Let's cut to the chase, this book suffers from exactly the same issue as Consider Phlebas. There's a bloody great plot cliff in the book and it took me to the brink of quitting this book. (view spoiler)[ Why does Gurgeh cheat? There seems practically nothing in for him. It is frankly ridiculous to suggest that after all this time that Gurgeh will do this. But Gurgeh cheating is the moment Gurgeh stops being an insufferable prat.
After I managed to reanimate my sense of belief in what occurred the book was a decent enough read and the plot rolls along at a decent pace. There are deficiencies in the who whole culture concept though. The machines are little more than constructs who do the right thing at the right time for the plot. So really you can never empathise with them. Why they don't just vaporise the clearly inferior humans is never clear. And once you think that the world takes on a distinctly pale feel.
Not bad, but no classic. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I have no reasonable excuse, I know Asimov is excellent, I know this book is a classic, yet I've still not read it. Clearly I should spend some time i...moreI have no reasonable excuse, I know Asimov is excellent, I know this book is a classic, yet I've still not read it. Clearly I should spend some time in the stocks.
There's not much I can add to the legion of reviews out there. This book is lovely. I had great fun reading it. You should too :) (less)
This book is really good. Particularly it's post-apocalyptic without being overly trite. The books conclusion felt right, as though the author had cha...moreThis book is really good. Particularly it's post-apocalyptic without being overly trite. The books conclusion felt right, as though the author had changed his mind over the course of the book as the book had developed. Certainly the transition from rebuilding to survival is handled with some aplomb. Like movies from the 30's you're not going to get stacks of gore or the visceral horror. Where death is dealt with it's dealt with in a sensitive manner. The tough times are portrayed through the discussion they generate and the thoughts of the lead character. This gives the book an interesting feel because the thought in the book is unvarnished. The lead character does hold opinions that he's unable to express and some of those opinions are not flattering to the other characters. Also the lead character is both human and not an action-oriented individual. Which is great for a geek like me to relate to.
There are a couple of things I didn't like. The treatment of mental illness and women leaves a lot to be desired by modern standards. Frankly almost all of the female characters serve as little more than reproduction machines, including the lead character's wife. By the end I was pleased the book stopped talking about women as it was really making me uncomfortable. But perhaps that says more about me than the book. Also I was sad the inter-group dynamics weren't better explored.
I'd recommend the book, it's not average fare for the genre and characterisation aside it's a thought-provoking read.
I went into this book with some trepidation, I didn't enjoy the introduction of te second foundation and left this book on the shelf for a long time b...moreI went into this book with some trepidation, I didn't enjoy the introduction of te second foundation and left this book on the shelf for a long time because I was worried it would further tarnish the series. However this book left me feeling like I could pick up the next book in the series.
In truth you're not going to enjoy this as much as the first foundation novels (particularly Foundation) but any Asimov book generally puts modern SF to shame. This book's plot is more predictable than the other and the characters interplay betrays the age of the book (the attitude to issues like jocks vs geeks and women is frankly odd in 2013). Also the tie-ins from Asimov's other work feels strained (something the author admits in the epilogue) but overall this is a fine book and you'll enjoy the story even if it feels a little too comfortable.(less)
**spoiler alert** Normally I don't read books like this as my suspicion of fantasy as a genre is pretty deep. However the description and weirdly the...more**spoiler alert** Normally I don't read books like this as my suspicion of fantasy as a genre is pretty deep. However the description and weirdly the foreword drew me in. Having read some reasonably downbeat books beforehand this book was exactly the antidote I was looking for. The tale had some swashbuckle, the ending was appropriate and the story moved well enough to be described as a page turner.
There's a lot of other things to like in this book too. The storyline feels a lot like something from Hustle/Ocean's 11 etc. so if you like a crime caper you'll enjoy this. The characters are well fleshed out in the main with some minor exceptions. The other thing to say here is that the world the characters inhabit is well fleshed out too. The prose style is easy and while there's an element of different language at play it's not stifling.
In terms of criticism I'd say that some of the characters are quite clearly props for the other characters to use/dispose of as necessary. Certainly the Sanza twins fell into this category, which was a pity because it telegraphed their role in the story. Also some of the motivations felt slightly facile at times, again that made the plot less twisty than it might have been.
Having said that I'm looking forward to more from this author and can happily recommend this book.(less)
**spoiler alert** Wow, I'm not sure what to say. this book is better than any modern SF I can think of by such a distance I dare not pick up another s...more**spoiler alert** Wow, I'm not sure what to say. this book is better than any modern SF I can think of by such a distance I dare not pick up another space opera for at least another month or two. People talk about vision and ambition in books, get this one and see what that really means. It took me ages to read this and I'm glad. This book rewards reflection and thought. It's not rollicking or immediate, it's graceful, sad and beautiful.
The feeling of sweeping and swooping through time in the book is wonderful, the various travails of man as depicted in the book are heart-wrenching an the ultimate end left me moved almost to tears. There's no hero, no escape and no romantic interest, yet the book is so much better for not having these things. I found it dense and at times challenging to read as disaster is heaped upon disaster. But i came back again and again and I felt rewarded for doing so.
The worst thing about the book is a foreword that talks about the book written recently. It suggests dismissing the first few chapters. Codswallop, read the whole thing. While Stapledon might have got the period of the 1930s and 1940s wrong in detail his overarching themes of religion and intolerance are wincingly painful to the modern reader. The end of which seems plausible enough too given where we are with oil too.
I'm ashamed to say that I've never read any Phillip K. Dick before. It isn't that I've avoided him, although minority report the film didn't make me t...moreI'm ashamed to say that I've never read any Phillip K. Dick before. It isn't that I've avoided him, although minority report the film didn't make me think I needed to run out and get hold of his work. However having read this book I'm looking forward to the next Phillip K. Dick book I purchase.
Some of the themes within the book are odd (the autism/schizophrenia angle feels odd) and some of the technology harks back to an earlier age. Having said that there's a coherence to the choies made that doesn't impede the book. The cast of characters is believable and the interplay is coherent. The overall plot rollocks along and the feeling I didn't see the end coming until quite late in the piece. The finale also neatly tied up the plot lines, which is something I prefer.
All-in-all pick this book up and acknowledge it was written in the sixties. After that enjoy the book :)(less)
I should preface this with a note that I am really not a fan of the short story. I miss the character development. So heading into this thing I wasn't...moreI should preface this with a note that I am really not a fan of the short story. I miss the character development. So heading into this thing I wasn't exactly ecstatic. However this is a slice of humble pie that I'm going to eat. This book was really good.
The ideas were excellent and the first story "Scanners Live In Vain" was as good as I'd hoped it would be. If you read any story in that book read that one. A couple of the stories were a bit whimsical for me but all of them were readable. Also the annotations are interesting and place some context around the tales.(less)