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Electric Forest

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  491 ratings  ·  34 reviews
The world called Indigo turned upside down for Magdala Cled one unexpected morning. From being that world's only genetic misfit, the shunned outcast of an otherwise ideal society, she became the focus of attention for mighty forces. Once they had installed her in the midst of the Electric Forest, with its weird trees and its super-luxurious private home, Magdala awoke to t ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 7th 1979 by DAW (first published 1979)
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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  491 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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mark monday
poor Ugly! her misshapen appearance really sticks out on the planet Indigo, where everyone is practically perfect in every way. Ugly needs to trade up! time to move into a new body, freshly made and certainly more pleasing to the eye.

this is a futuristic morality tale in which Pygmalion is a beautiful, psychopathic young genius and Galatea his equally beautiful handmade toy. it is also a chilly deconstruction of independence and class with a sad-at-heart, sadistic Henry Higgins transforming, deg
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it
I haven't read this since I was little, but I found its take on body image fascinating then; may not hold up. The ending is absolutely ridiculous -- she clearly got there and realized there was no way to do a happy ending, so she punted to the closest thing to "It was all a dream" she could get away with.
Electric Forest is Tanith Lee's take on The Girl Who Was Plugged In/Screwtop. Read that instead, this has a particularly tacky ending.
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Magdala Cled, known only as “Ugly”, lives in a world where people are bred to be beautiful, healthy, normal. But she was born by a natural birth and is seen as a genetic mistake among the perfection of her peers. When a man shows up at her table one day during lunch, Magdala is presented with an opportunity that changes her entire life, but at what cost?

Jacob, over at Red Star Reviews introduced me to Vintage Sci-Fi month, wherein you read any sci-fi that was written before you were born. In my
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Electric Forest is classic Tanith Lee science fiction. In a world full of trilogies and 1000 page novels, 150 pages of a compact story with rich, descriptive writing is a breath of fresh air.

The story itself is not very remarkable; like plenty of science fiction, it focusses on investigation of what makes the "other," even when that "other" is oneself. Ugly girl in beautiful society is transitioned into a beautiful, android body by enigmatic stranger bent on some sort of retributi
Raymond St.
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
At the end of this book, the character sits at the piano and begins playing variations on a theme. It is Lee's way of saying that she herself has been giving us variations on religious metaphor, twined within what seems a classic sci-fi tale. Lee is riffing on Christian themes such as sacrifice, transubstantiation, resurrection and original sin. The writing here is more subtle than in much of Lee's writing. But more moving.
Leila Anani
Some books leave you stunned when you finish them. This was one of those for me. Conceptual sci-fi at its best. – Magdela Cled, a hideous dwarf jumps at the chance of having her consciousness transferred to a stunning new body. Little does she realise the fiendish plot hatched by her handsome Dr Frankenstein, Claudio. Amazing plot twist.
• Pygmalion, Frankenstein,
• Nature of “self”
• Line of Sanity/Insanity
• Narcissism
• Love/Hate relationship

Probably my favourite work by Tanith Lee to d
The Cat
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
WHY on Earth did she do that to the ending. It was a nice story with good characters written with style that feels like eating an infinite bowl of home-grown strawberries (delicious!) and when you are full, and decide to have the last one, it's rotten. That much about the ending which made no sense and I am going to pretend the story ended ten pages earlier than it actually had.
Oct 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've recently borrowed a bunch of relatively obscure Tanith Lee books - I read her a bunch when I was in high school, then I fell off reading, then I started come back to it though now I read "realistic" fiction as opposed to SF/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction, which comprised most of my reading diet when I was younger. I remembered that her prose writing was lush and evocative, but it could also be taut when it had to be. Sometimes the lushness was a bit too indulgent, especially when it would cree ...more
Meagan Houle
Jul 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Gorgeous imagery, fascinating premise...but a very disappointing ending. Originally, I felt enormous sympathy for Magdala, the "ugly" protagonist, but once she is made "beautiful", she becomes by turns disgustingly obedient, pointlessly spiteful, and horribly indecisive. I felt that, eventually, I lost the thread of the whole thing, and only finished it to see where it was all going. I'd have given this 2 stars, but I really, really loved the writing, and the beginning, as I said, was intriguing ...more
Well, Tanith Lee sort of failed with this one. The prose, as usual, is lush and compelling, but the ending is absurd to the point of unintentional hilarity. It also reads like an afterthought, a phoned in attempt to blunt the narrative's bleak (yet fitting) conclusion.

Imma pretend the editor demanded a happier ending, so she deliberately chose to make it as ridiculous as possible just to subvert that request.
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Feminist sci-fi nerds
Shelves: books-i-own
A meditation on identity and beauty by the illustrious Ms. Lee.
Complex narrative style meets science and robotics. Similar to the short story "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" by Alice B. Sheldon, but with a twist.
Mar 16, 2008 rated it liked it
There were some interesting ideas in this book, but the writing and follow-through was average. Summary: Deformed girl meets mystery man who promises he can make her beautiful. She becomes more or less his property and gets involved in planetary intrigue, with a surprise twist ending.
Thom Dunn
Nov 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: a-own-hardcover
This and Tiptree's The Girl Who Was Plugged In, with essentially the same premise, published at the same time , each claiming to know nothing of the other. Premise: A supremely deformed woman with a beautiful waldo-body out in the world. Could be considered variants of The Wife of Bath's Tale
Oct 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love Tanith Lee. Like most of her books that I've read, the last five pages change the entire story.
Jul 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Entertaining, but I probably won't remember it in 2 weeks.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Actually a decent novel but it wasn't quite what I was expecting. I did like the portrayal of the psychological impacts of the events on the characters, but I didn't like the framing device used at the beginning and end (i.e. report speak).
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I forget in between-times how reading Tanith Lee is like a sensory experience, layered with meaning. The point isn't the plot or the twists, but the experience of them.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wrote "mediocre SF" on my list of books read.
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, sf, fiction
I picked up this fantastic old paperback at John King in Detroit. Tanith Lee is one of the authors I should always be reading more of. The cover is fantastic and the synopsis along the lines of one of Lee's themes -- a society where people can basically create designer bodies -- except this book focuses on a character without the good fortune to have had even basic genetic selection, and is considered a monstrosity.

Or so we're led to believe. This book is entirely impossible to discuss without s
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
The protagonist is a female which is described as ugly in a world full of perfectly, while genetically engineered, beautiful people. She is given the chance to become beautiful; by a man which motives aren't as benevolent as they seem at first glance.

The story is quite intriguing, playing with the image of one self, the idea what really defines how we see ourselves, and how the perception of others shaped our image of ourselves.

I enjoyed reading this book but it takes a while until the true plo
May 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lee is an incredible writer. She interweaves so many different things. Mythology, religions, sexuality, legends, multiple story lines. You fall in love with the characters, but more importantly, you immerse yourself in their lives. You enter the realm they inhabit. One of those rare authors who can transport you to their worlds. I love her work.
Jules Jones
Sep 14, 2006 rated it really liked it
[2006-10-12] Short sf novel exploring identity and manipulation via consciousness transfer into android bodies, with the usual Lee sting in the tail.
I am both inspired to try harder and filled with despair that I will never be as talented as this woman.
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: o, fa, sfhf_challenge, rtw
Reminds me of Tiptree's The Girl Who Was Plugged In.
May 19, 2012 rated it liked it

The middle of the book was flat and a little vague- not as much imagery.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the worst kind of science fiction --- all ideas and no heart. I gave up about a quarter of the way in.
Aug 26, 2008 rated it liked it
A psychologically compelling story; makes you question what a person is capable of.
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: tanith-lee
A very enjoyable, aesthetic scifi story.
The ending did not work for me at all.
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Tanith Lee was a British writer of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. She was the author of 77 novels, 14 collections, and almost 300 short stories. She also wrote four radio plays broadcast by the BBC and two scripts for the UK, science fiction, cult television series "Blake's 7."
Before becoming a full time writer, Lee worked as a file clerk, an assistant librarian, a shop assistant, and a wai