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Palimpsest

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  583 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Welcome to the Stasis, the clandestine, near-omnipotent organization that stands at the heart of Charles Stross's Hugo Award-winning novella, Palimpsest.

By mastering the mysteries of the Timegate, the Stasis has repeatedly steered mankind away from the brink of utter extinction. Through countless millennia, through the 'mayfly flickerings' of innumerable transient civiliza
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Hardcover, 131 pages
Published 2011 by Subterranean Press (first published July 2009)
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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  583 ratings  ·  53 reviews


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Scott
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I blame the TARDIS.

I was exposed to the time-travelling blue telephone box, and its quirky, scarf-adorned occupant at an early age, and this exposure left me with a taste for causality violation, for the bending of the unbreakable constraints of physics in time travel stories that bring modern people into contact with both the pre-modern and their far-future descendants.

As a result, Palimpsest - a time travel story written by the very skilled Charles Stross - immediately appealed to me.

Stross,
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Jamie
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hugo Award for Best Novella (2010)

What a ride! I daresay this is the best, most imaginative time travel story I've read, far beyond usual time travel fare. The scope here is staggering, nothing less than the origin and fate of humanity, Earth and the universe. Reminds me quite a lot of Poul Anderson's classic Tau Zero, with elements of Asimov's The End of Eternity. There is a lot of hard science and brain busting time paradoxes, which may make this unapproachable for some. Yet Stross masterfully
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Ben Babcock
So after finishing The Time Traveler’s Wife I realized that the next book on my shelf was Family Matters. The last Rohinton Mistry book I read cut me up, so I decided that before I attempted this next one, I would need something I was guaranteed to enjoy. Fortunately, my awesome limited edition of Palimpsest had just arrived from Subterranean Press. I first read Palimpsest when it was a nominee for the Hugo Award for Best Novella. It subsequently won, deservedly, the award, and so when I heard ...more
Kat  Hooper
May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Agent Pierce murdered his own grandfather to join Stasis, the covert organization which works outside of time to reseed the Earth with humans every time they’re about to make themselves extinct. Pierce considers himself a loyal agent, and he didn’t even realize that there is a group that works in Opposition to Stasis — he’s only in training. So, why is someone trying to assassinate him?

Palimpsest follows Agent Pierce from initiation, through his twenty yea
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Liam Proven
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Found and read online following a Twitter discussion about time-travel stories.

This is an odd work, atypical of Stross' work IMHO. I am not sure I fully understood it. As soon as I finished it, I restarted it, but I lack time to reread the whole thing immediately.

As a piece of large-scale SF, it puts me in mind of Liu Cixin. As a story which involves jump-cuts into the far far cosmic future, of Robert Charles Wilson's /Spin/. As a story which involves multiple time-journeys, characters meeting a
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Costin Manda
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
This is how I love my sci-fi: short and to the point. We still get the Charlie Stross signature nice techie guy who falls for girls in sci-fi settings, but since this is a novella, Palimpsest focuses almost entirely on the catch, the "what if" kernel of the story. And that is another exploration of what time travel would lead to, in this case an out of time organization called the Stasis that exists solely to protect Earth from inevitable extinction by reseeding it with humanity whenever it happ ...more
Eloise Sunshine
While it is true that there are basically only about 4 characters in this story, it doesn't make it less valuable or interesting. Quite opposite, I would say. The skills it must take to compile all the actions in a logical row when you only get to use endless copies of just one man in different times and realities or palimpsests being created and overwritten...
I would recommend to enjoy the good sides of this story - the games with reality and history, the possibilities of our planet's future a
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Laura
Accelerando meets the Total Awareness Society. Great meditation on the different ways we could be, as the universe grows colder and darker, individually and collectively. That's the wrong conjunction junction, because in the world of the Palimpsest and frequent backups of EVERYTHING, we can be copied, overwritten, copied, overwritten again and again and again. Whole spaceships staffed by variations on a theme.

Smart book, but a chilly one.



John
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, charles-stross
Quite a mind-blowing novella from a master of future imaginings! Good science-fiction always gets the reader to think, often to think way outside the box, and Charles Stross has the mental power and writing ability to bring his stories to fruition in a way that provides challenges, and insights, and humor, and wonder for his audience's delight. A terrific read!
Moira
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Vividly sketched, but a sketch nonetheless. An unwelcome dose of bullshit gender tropes - our women range from the stern teacher who secretly wants to fuck you to the eager student who will also gladly fuck you, with a stop-off in the middle for the pliant, dumb wife and a mysterious, sensual soldier - drops Stross off my read-again-soon list.
Charl
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
I've got really mixed feelings about this story. Overall I liked it, but the repeated "grandfather paradoxes" throughout the story kept me from really enjoying it.

It seems clear to me that Stross is positing only one timeline, since he talks about rewritten history and unhistory (histories that no longer exist), but it seems to me that if there's only one timeline, the Stasis are (yes, that's correct, he uses it as a plural noun in the story) creating paradoxes left and right.

It's bad enough tha
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Sam Gor
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I wish this was a full on novel because this was too short.

Everything is simply introduced and the plot is piecemeal until the end when you know how things fit into place. 131 pages with this much information is intense.

Granted, the world building is an essential part of the plot and sometimes the characters are thrown aside. The slides of the world is interesting to read but immense in scope and it made me feel like I'm just reading a textbook rather than experiencing what the characters are
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Gregg Kellogg
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a really inventive book, which proves what Stross is capable of, when he leaves the comfort zone of his long running series. The time-travelers grandfather paradox turned on its head. Quite a bit of fun, and great to come across.
Joe Jungers
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Time hopping secret agents.
Nicolas Garcia
Good ideas but to short and too fast...
It would have been great to explore further...
G33z3r
"Palimpsest" Imagines a universe (or maybe it's a multi-verse) where an organization of time travelers flit through the millennia making adjustments to human history. The time agents, an organization called Stasis, exist outside of time (originally plucked from various eras of human history.) (that has, in fact, a superficial similarity to Asimov's The End of Eternity.)

But Stasis has a much grander plan than Asimov's time travelers ever did. These time travelers concentrate on re-seeding the hu
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Raj
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, time-travel
I enjoyed this novella that covers some of the more intricate nature of time travel. The Stasis is an organisation that has access to time travel and uses it to shape human history, preserving the human race, and reseeding it on Earth after it goes extinct, as it inevitably does.

Our protagonist is Pierce, someone plucked out of time in the early 21st century after he fulfils the initiation of killing his own grandfather and we follow him as he progresses through his training to a full agent of t
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Seawood
Didn't really connect with this one, unfortunately. Partly this is due to the fact that I was expecting something rather different - my copy (which I think I got as part of a Humble Bundle or some other download pack) has the name and cover of Catherynne M Valente's Palimpsest (one I suspect would have been more my thing!), and that I was listening to it whilst sewing, so not giving it my undivided attention. The general idea was interesting enough but carried out in a fairly patchy way with mor ...more
Jonathan Lupa
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yikes!

This one caught me by surprise. Normally, I quite enjoy Charles Stross work, though he tangents into contexts which don't interest me. He tends to cover big-topic SF, which seems to me to be more challenging and rewarding than lightsabre pulp.

Anyway, this particular story is fundamentally a mind boggling story of time travel, and he pulls it off terrifically. I had a really challenging time keeping track of timelines and light cones, so I can see where some people would probably not be int
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Vickey Foggin
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This is a Hugo-nominated novella from Charles Stross' short story collection "Wireless" that was released as a stand-alone e-book. A quick, captivating read. Pierce is a agent of Stasis, an organisation that uses extreme interventions through time to prevent the extinction of the human race. Stasis is very powerful, but it is not always right.
Hannah
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Honestly, I felt as if I couldn't understand about half the book and felt pretty stupid trying to read a book meant for "experienced sci-fi readers". Maybe my 14-year-old brain just didn't have the mental capacity to comprehend it without consulting a dictionary every few pages. I might come back and read it in a few years time, after expanding my vocabulary.
Evilynn
Nov 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, 2011
I almost feel bad for buying this book, it turns out it was a signed copy, 925 out of 1000 printed, seems like that kind of book should go to a proper fan, not someone who's never read anything by Stross before.

I'd give this novella 4.5 stars if I could, it's a very interesting mix of time travel and history, paradoxes abound.
Michael Hirsch
Nov 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Not one of Stross's best. Maybe I'd have liked it better if he'd fleshed it out into a full novel, but as it is, too many details were left out for my taste. Out feels like a concept for a story, without the story.
S
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Good, quick read. Well written.
Clyde
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
One of Charles Stross's best works.
Rolf Eberhardt
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this novel which delves into the intricacies of time travel.
Riversue
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this in English, needless to say - but it was one of the best primers on the intricacies of the paradoxes in time travel. Good fun.
Michele
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. There were just a few times when I was kind of lost. Otherwise, I would have given it 5 stars. A really great time travel story.
yangsta
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
mind bending...that's all
Terry
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi-read
Possibly the best Time Travel story I've ever had the pleasure to read. What an imagination.
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Charles David George "Charlie" Stross is a writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. His works range from science fiction and Lovecraftian horror to fantasy.

Stross is sometimes regarded as being part of a new generation of British science fiction writers who specialise in hard science fiction and space opera. His contemporaries include Alastair Reynolds, Ken MacLeod, Liz Williams and Richard Morgan.

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