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Jack Glass

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,244 ratings  ·  317 reviews
Golden Age SF meets Golden Age Crime in this British Science Fiction Award winner for best novel, from the author of Swiftly, New Model Army, and Yellow Blue Tibia

Jack Glass is the murderer—we know this from the start. Yet as this extraordinary novel unfolds, readers will be astonished to discover how he committed the murders and by the end of the book, their sympathies fo
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published July 26th 2012 by Gollancz
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  2,244 ratings  ·  317 reviews

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Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Beautiful cover, but not at all reflective of the tone or content of the book. What you're getting is a dark, rather nasty series of interlocked stories set in a future of corporate dictatorships, widespread poverty, and minimal concern for human rights. So, um, kind of like now, actually, only with more advanced technology and drugs.

Because I read the blurb and some reviews, I wasn't expected a fun, optimistic tale a la the early days of science fiction, but I was hoping for at least some nods
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Vonnegut fans, Powers fans

“A quantity of blood is spilled in this story, I’m sorry to say; and a good many people die; and there is some politics too. There is danger and fear. Accordingly I have told his tale in the form of a murder mystery; or to be more precise (and at all costs we must be precise) three, connected murder mysteries.

But I intend to play fair with you, reader, right from the start, or I’m no true Watson. So let me tell everything now, at the beginning, before the story gets going.“

Such a promising begin
This is still the best book I've read this year. I know it's only April, and I read this in February, and there's still a lot of time. But I bloody loved it. And I haven't even got to lend my copy out yet, which is a travesty.

I found it in a way that usually turns up a lot of dross but has actually done me quite proud in the last few months, which is to say in the comments section of a Guardian Online article, this time on locked room mysteries. Every so often, I discover that someone has writte
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction

Don't go to Adam Roberts looking for utopian visions of the future. If you want harmonious co-operation, post-scarcity paradises or futures where humanity has forged it's nobler instincts into the foundations of Brave New Worlds, look elsewhere - most of Robert's books will give you screaming nightmares.

In On Earth's gravity has literally flipped ninety degrees, and it's a hardscrabble, borderline medieval dump. In new Model Army the world is ravaged and broken by conflict wrought by chea
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
3 crimes scenes, 1 man

Mass murderer Jack Glass is on loose and the Solar System is not safe. Enveloping theoretical physics and power dynamics, Roberts offers this suspense. It questions values from loyalty to the ever present, does the ends justify the means.

Broken down into three separate vignettes, it's not immediately obvious that these are sequential events, but the impetus for Jack's actions unfolds. The first vignette, "In the Box", I loved; it was gritty science fiction and a big surpris
Mike Carey
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful thing this book is! Roberts himself describes it as arising from "a desire to collide together some of the conventions of 'Golden Age' science fiction and 'Golden Age' detective fiction." He does that beautifully, but he does so much more.

Does the book satisfy as a mystery? One hundred per cent, I'd say. Of course there are three mysteries, and each of them articulates in a different way. And each of them pays off beautifully. But it's not even scratching the surface of the nove
Guy Haley
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Roberts' books are truly difficult to rate, because there isn't anything else like them in the modern SF genre. He writes beautifully, really beautifully; the kind of image-dense, well-crafted sentences that you have to read three times just to savour the feel of them sliding through your neurons. His ideas are magical, and he's no imaginative slouch - each novel he writes sports a new and freshly minted world of wondrous veracity.

Set in a future where humans thickly clot the space between the w

Dear readers, I fear I have to convey a terrible, terrible tragedy to you! The fifth rating star was murdered and now lies dead in front of you.
But the strangest thing is that we already know who did the killing. It was a collarboration of the remaining four stars, who have fled into this review.
It's like in the novel "Jack Glass", where we are told who is the murderer in all three cases within the book right upfront in the prologue.
So, follow me into this murder mystery review and h
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2,5 / 5

Jack Glass, by Adam Roberts is a book that tries too much to be many things but ultimately fails in most, if not all of them. Here’s my personal view and opinion why this is so and why I was disappointed. As usual, I will avoid going into too much detail describing what this book is about, you can read the synopsis up there ^. Instead, I will go straight into my review. Be wary, this review will probably contain light spoilers but nothing too revealing. Quick summary?: A book with a very
Emma Sea
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Holy wow, I loved this book!

The book is in three sections, and the first just sucked me in. I was obsessed with the world Roberts created within nine pages. Roberts's writing is marvelous; tender yet precise, dancing in rhythms then breaking out of step, like a flaneur's pause. The world he created is compelling and vast and utterly believable.

The second and third sections had a different focalizing character, and so I couldn't relate to them as easily. And then there is a plot development in s
Jack Glass is one of those "cannot read anything else until finished books" and despite the occasional gruesomeness inside, I thought it had the same combination of inventiveness and exuberance that made Land of the Headless one of my most favorite sff books. Stone, Splinter and By Light Alone are also comparable in quality (all being among the top tier books I've read)though darker and arguably denser and "less accessible" to casual readers - however much i tend to dislike this expression, some ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, space-opera
This is the third Roberts novel I've read, after Swiftly and By Light Alone. It shares a number of qualities with those two books: division into several interlinked but tonally dissimilar sections, cold and not conventionally likable characters who nonetheless grow on the reader, flashy science fiction concepts that don't dominate the story the way one might expect them to, incessant reminders of extreme economic inequality, strange pacing with lurches and changes of focus, etc. I would rank it ...more
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jack Glass is an impossible book.


I’ve had this on my radar ever since it came out but it wasn’t until it won the British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel this year that I decided to read it.

Jack Glass is ostensibly a blend of Golden Age Science Fiction and Golden Age Crime – to which point this is a homage or subversion is up for discussion. I feel it’s both.


The opening like is one of the best opening lines I have ever read:

This narrative, which I hereby doctorwatson for your benefit,
Tudor Ciocarlie
Another great novel by Adam Roberts, Jack Glass is a very exciting-to-read blend between "Golden Age science fiction and Golden Age detective fiction". Roberts doesn't try to make these genres something they are not, but he shows us what extraordinary things were done with this kind of fiction in the past, that Golden Age SF can still kick a punch or two and reminds us why we fell in love with SF. ...more
Tom LA
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a splendid thing this book is. Inside and outside. Full disclosure: I bought this book ONLY because I loved its cover. I didn't read anything about the content or the author, I carefully avoided reading the cover blurb, and jumped into it in complete ignorance.

I have a very visual imagination and I've loved many book covers before, but I've never bought a book just because of its cover, this was the very first time for me. A complete gamble. And I'm glad it paid off so well.

So, just for a
M.D. Lachlan
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
OK, I'll stick a caveat on this review - Adam Roberts has been very nice about my books, which I suppose leaves me very well disposed to his. However, if I didn't like the book I would just probably lie and tell him I liked it and not bother to review it. There are mild spoilers in this review, though I've done my best to be vague.
This book is a take on the classic locked room mystery. However, it is a Russian doll of a novel, locked rooms inside locked rooms inside locked rooms varying in size
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Excellent blend of classic whodunnits and classic sci-fi. Three scenarios - prison escape, country house murder mystery and locked-room murder - form the framework for perfectly paced revelations about a fascinating 'hero', most unusual 'heroine', and consistent, believable Solar System with corrupt political system.
There have been comments in other reviews that the book ended abruptly, but in my view the author has revealed answers to all the mysteries and we appropriately leave the protagonis
Brian Clegg
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
On the science fiction front I have to confess that pretty well every author I like I already liked in the 1970s. I really haven't picked up anyone new. But I was blown away by Jack Glass by Adam Roberts. I suspect what made this for me is that Roberts consciously was setting out to write a book that took on some of the conventions of the golden ages of science fiction and crime writing - both favourites for me. It is a new book. It is a modern book. However it encompasses the best of the old. A ...more
I found this snippet of a review in my e-mail drafts folder (apparently, I was typing a review in an e-mail window back in 2013 and forgot about it all these years - impressive, no?) and thought I'd put it in its proper home. Here it is:

This book hit all of my sweet spots. Antihero. Noble assassin. Gory deaths. Murder mystery. Thoughtful world-building. Novel space travel. It's tricky, intellectual, and a little weird.

The structure is set-up as a three-part puzzle, with a frame tale that gives y
K.J. Charles
Dec 07, 2017 added it
Shelves: sci-fi
Didn't like this much, I think because I didn't connect to/engage with any of the characters. It felt very like the Golden Age mysteries Roberts is riffing off, in that it was three cleverly constructed puzzles and the people were basically puzzle pieces moved to fit. Basically rather cold and hard with pages of dialogue about equations and physics and some really deathly dream sequences (I don't want to hear lengthy accounts of people's dreams in real life; still less do I need five pages at a ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to write a more substantial review, but other stuff is piling up, so here’s a quick impression. V. v. slight spoilers ahead.

This is something of a concept novel, pursued with much acuity and panache. Roberts claims to be braiding together the two so-called Golden Ages of genre fiction: the Golden Age of crime fiction (roughly the interwar period) and the Golden Age of science fiction (roughly just afterwards). The Golden Ages are here to inspire, not to invigilate – Jack Glass does cont
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa Prange
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, mystery, scifi
It’s so much easier to rant about a bad book than to describe why exactly you truly fell in love with a good book. There’s just something inexplicable about why a certain book nuzzles its way into your heart. (Now it sounds as if I’m going to go on to describe a romance novel or a cozy mystery. I’m so, so sorry, but no.) Jack Glass is one of those books that gave me lovey-dovey feelings and I’m finding those feelings hard to quantify. The story is rock solid. That I can say. I loved the combo of ...more
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, fiction, scifi
Adam Roberts is one of the most consistently interesting sci-fi writers that I've come across. His novels tend to contain a strikingly bizarre central concept, the implications of which are then spun out. My favourite example of this is Land of the Headless, probably the only novel you will ever read in which the main characters have been decapitated before the story begins. In 'Jack Glass', the central conceit is stylistic - the reader is told of three murder mysteries and that the eponymous an ...more
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2014
Jack Glass is an exceptional science-fiction novel. While I often find science-fiction both tedious and difficult to read, I really enjoyed this book.

The only downside to this novel was that, for me, it got progressively weaker.

The book is separated into three sections. The introduction was by far the most compelling one I’ve ever read and I absolutely adored the first section. I found the characterisations absolutely stunning and, above all, interesting. The descriptions were wonderfully done a
Dragos Iosif
Aug 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is the first case I encounter where a book's marketing("golden age SF and golden age detective" - this sounds so good that it got obsessively repeated by every reviewer; pre-chewed thoughts for everyone!), a book's cover and it's prologue are the best parts of a book. Actually, they are the only good parts about it.

First story: starts slow, couldn't care less about the characters, a lot of nothing happens, get the feeling that maybe the writer was payed by the number of pages. Solution: the
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
Roberts writes wonderfully flawed sci-fi. This book is a mashup of dystopian scifi with the "duh-duh-duh" mystery short story, except we always know who did it - "Jack Glass", but the challenge is to figure out how. This is introduced to us by a narrator, presumably to let us prepare for the convoluted explanations that abound in these sorts of books (and indeed a character in one story even pokes fun at this tendency in murder mysteries). The first story is great, and unfortunately the best. I ...more
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
This has been one of the most difficult novels to give a rating to. It has a 3-part structure and the first part is considerably different from the rest. It's hard to get your head around the change in tone (from gritty prisoners to self-entitled teenagers) and, for me, the ending completely ruins the whole experience. ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Replete with both the charm and chaff of golden age fiction, Roberts crafts a series of Hard Scifi murder mysteries to stump the reader, while drawing on the tropiest tropishness of tropocity. Space bubbles!
Charles Dee Mitchell
Roberts' novel is an ingenious combination of sf and old-fashioned "locked room" mysteries. I didn't understand my growing lack of engagement with the story until I remembered about half way through it that I have never cared for locked-room mysteries. But is is very well done. ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Dragons & Jetpacks: Discussion: Jack Glass Part II 8 31 Nov 13, 2013 12:08PM  
Dragons & Jetpacks: Discussion: Jack Glass, part I 9 37 Nov 08, 2013 08:07PM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: 2012 BSFA Award Winners Announced 1 11 Apr 01, 2013 08:41AM  

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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Adam Roberts (born 1965) is an academic, critic and novelist. He also writes parodies under the pseudonyms of A.R.R.R. Roberts, A3R Roberts and Don Brine. He also blogs at The Valve, a group blog devoted to literature and cultural studies.

He has a degree in English from the

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