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News From Gardenia

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  338 ratings  ·  58 reviews
When Gavin Meckler's light aircraft encounters a mysterious cloud and crashes to earth, he discovers that the eerily quiet landscape in which he has landed is 200 years older than the one from which he took off. In this gentle, peaceful, sustainable new world, it is possible to travel from one side of the globe to the other in a matter of minutes without burning fuel, and ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 22nd 2012 by Unbound
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The idea of creating a proper utopia, as opposed to portraying an idea that was meant to lead to a utopia and ended up being oppressive/only working for the upper class citizens, is not a new one, but it's not one I've seen around much recently. Part of that is probably that it's hard to make a society like that interesting; my English teacher Mr. E always used to point out that literature is about things going wrong, that what we are interested in is not happy people, but the conflicts they com ...more
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have several major quibbles with this book, the last of which may seem a little contradictory.

The first and most significant - the protagonist is a jerk. He reminded me of that bit in ‘The Social Network’, when Mark Zuckerberg’s girlfriend is breaking up with him and says, “You think women don’t like you because you’re a nerd [geek?]. But it’s actually because you’re an asshole.” I paraphrase, but you get the idea. Someone needs to say this to Gavin. When he rocked up in the future, I kept exp
Darren Sant
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was one of those novels that I devoured in a day. Llewellyn captivated me from the first page. Gavin is a busy man and he has little time to reflect on his life and little time for his wife. An important man, a busy man. However, when a freak anomaly sees him transported two hundred years into the future he realises the world is a very different place to the one he left behind and time might be all he has.

Llewellyn has created a very different utopia within this novel. The lead character Ga
James Cridland
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Much to my irritation, Robert Llewellyn books aren't available in Kindle format: and, as far as I can tell, he's not written one for a while. So when he popped up on Google+ asking for funding for a new book (using a website called unbound), I thought I'd pop along and help. Three months later, the book is finished - my name's in the back - and, once I realised I could actually download it (that's a whole other story), I settled down to read it on the Kindle (and in a nicely-produced .mobi versi ...more
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Sadly, I have to say that I did not think this book was very good. It's a utopian novel, and suffered from the same problems that all utopian novels seem to me to have: nothing actually happens beyond "character goes to utopia, residents of utopia explain things about their society and history". At least in Herland there's some conflict, but seriously nothing happens in this book at all. I also thought that the setting was wrong - it's supposed to be about 200 years in the future, 150 years afte ...more
Derek Erb
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
A wonderfully optimistic view of the future. For once the future is Utopic and wonderful instead of apocalyptic and dreadful.

Bits inspired from News From Nowhere, from The Time Machine, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, amongst others.

Truly enjoyable, and thought-provoking read. I highly recommend the audio version as the author reads and does wonderful voices which brings his story even more to life.
Apr 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
This is a Utopian novel and as the author has acknowledged it's a tricky thing to write well. I think he does a decent job but in the end it feels more like a travelogue than a novel. It wasn't too long though.

Also, I've just finished reading a few minutes ago and I have to say I felt the ending was a bit abrupt.

Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is one of those that caught my eye right from the shelf in the store. Not just because of its striking green cover (which helps), but because of what the preamble promises. It's a book about the future, but not a future where war, zombies or aliens have ravaged society. It's a future where humanity seems to get it right. This in itself intrigued me, so it was inevitable that I was eventually going to buy and read it.

Initially I have to admit that this book really held my interest. Lle
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had been wanting to read this book for around a year, since I interviewed Robert Llewellyn for Crowdfund it! as a case study for Unbound.

News from Gardenia is set 200 years in the future where the main character Gavin accidentally arrives by plane after flying through a strange cloud. Almost without exception movies set into the future have a world much bleaker than the one we currently inhabit. In fact, this was highlighted for me only last night when my husband suggested we watch 'Loopers' w
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A thought-provoking foray into a futuristic utopia where the possibility of living in harmony with the natural world whilst still enjoying advanced technology is explored. News from Gardenia isn't a deep or complex novel, but it is an interesting and inviting read, with a main character who is hard not to warm to. Its hard to describe this book as a novel though as it often reads as a polite character-lead essay on the possibility of living a life of sustainability through education, socio-econo ...more
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Robert Llewellyn is very outspoken regarding alternative energy, so when I saw the plot of this book I expected there to be points where he laboured his anti fossil fuels message so much that it distracted from the story. Thankfully this isn't the case.

A very well written yarn that is definitely more about the story than the writing- in some sections he could have been writing in broken english, the story is gripping enough that it really wouldn't matter. The story is about Gavin, who has an arg
Maya Panika
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
An odd little book, strongly inspired by William Morris's utopian-socialist News from Nowhere, News from Gardenia is the antidote to all those miserable dystopian novels that abound at the moment. It's a great idea and - after having heard Robert Llewellyn talk about this book on Radio Four, I was really keen to get hold of a copy.

Unfortunately, News from Gardenia doesn't do justice to the boldness of the idea. The style is too self-conscious in its attempts to amuse. The story is repetitive and
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, science-fiction
I'll start by showing off: Robert Llewellyn himself signed my copy at Cardiff Comic Con 2013.

A solid, entertaining novel. A nice read, but not for everyone. It's utopian science fiction. The book is heavily based on technology, so if you have no interest in it whatsoever then do not even bother with this story.

I was slightly disappointed with the story. I enjoyed the first half of the book; the unfolding of an interesting and exciting plot, a number of likable characters and an overall enjoyab
Thomas Hale
Jun 18, 2014 rated it liked it
The premise of the book is notable in itself: actual *utopian* SF, which is a rarity in today's world of Hunger Gameses and Maze Runners (and, well, actual world politics). A regular middle-class Englishman ends up two hundred years in the future, in a green and strangely empty land known as Gardenia. He learns about their technology, their social structure, and even gets to tour around different parts of the world to discover what things are like. It's a pretty straightforward plot, but it's re ...more
Sean Randall
Oct 05, 2012 rated it liked it
"I was in a room with what looked like normal human beings, but things were steadily and relentlessly going out of whack."

The opening of this book was quite intriguing; I'd heard an audio reading of the first chapter a few months ago and so was glad to give it a go. The writing is lightly amusing, Llewellyn has a style that is both comfortable, informative and funny.

"It sounded like the whole system I’d known, in fact the whole country, had broken down into some sort of anarchist semi-medieval s
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: electronic
A wonderfully realised utopia story set some 200 years in the future where Britain has lead the way from excessive consumerist capitalism to pastoral gardening (hence Gardenia).

Reading this after The Secret Agent shows anarchism in a positive light - there is no law or government, and people just seem to "Do The Right Thing". My underlying feeling, highlighted by the main character's trip to still hustling and bustling Beijing and Mumbai, is that the ageing population of Gardenia no longer have
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I bought this after seeing Robert talk at the "Unbound meets Catalyst Club" event as part of the 2013 Brighton Festival. The way he described the sequel made me interested in reading this book. I've since registered as a subscriber of the next book News From the Squares.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I was engrossed in the world he describes and I love the near-future-ness of the technology he describes. As he said in his talk, it's all possible, nothing is conjured up, some of it is stretched
Christine Blachford
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wasn't too sure where this book was going to start with but I was soon captivated, as I travelled along with Gavin to Gardenia. It's so unusual to have a utopian fiction novel rather than the more disturbing dystopian premises that actually, in its own way, it was still rather creepy.

Very interesting ideas in here though, about what life would be like if energy consumption wasn't an issue - about how society would function if left to their own devices. Would we all just get on or would it become
I thought the book was fantastic! Wonderfully written, and despite detailing some pretty advanced technology that would normally go straight over my head, it was easy to follow.
I was constantly engaged and there was no lull in interest at all, which is a problem I sometimes experience due to to ADD. Heck, if you can keep me engaged from start to finish, I think you've just about performed a miracle!
I felt that the book focuses a bit more on the advancements between the time period and less on t
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
I've got to be honest, I was expecting a lot more. Not a lot happened. The protagonist, Gavin did a few things, but nothing exciting. I would have been happier with a longer book, and a much more thrilling story. The ending was slightly abrupt, which is somewhat frustrating; however, it does leave opportunity for a sequel. The concept of the novel was great, however, and I suppose it makes you think, like all futuristic novels. I would recommend it, with hesitation though. It wasn't great, but i ...more
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, science-fiction
Really enjoyed reading this book. It's an easy read an engaging story.
I follow the author online (not in a stalkerish way) and I have to say I could very much hear his voice in the central character, and I think the did add an authenticity to what I was reading.
I would have like to have known a little more about this world, I do feel that the end was very abrupt. I know it's a trilogy, and from what I can ascertain Gavin (the main character) goes to different worlds in each one. Here's hoping
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
i see that this book has been rated any where between one star and five, such a contrast but I guess its all according to one's point of view and how the book is regarded. I did enjoy it and wanted to know if and how Gavin got back to his real time, so actually read the book quite quickly. as it was an inconclusive end, I saw that there is a sequel book so I took a peak at the precis of that, and thus News from Gardenia isn't the end
Craig Arnush
Apr 28, 2015 rated it liked it
As something that paints a portrait of a utopian future, it works well enough. The problem with the book is that it has no real, discernable plot. A man goes to the future, then he travels around and looks at stuff. There's no conflict, no resolution, just sight-seeing. I have yet to read the next book in the series, _News from the Squares_, and I'm hoping there will be something more than just world-building when I get to that one.
Chrissie Edden
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book really opened my eyes to the future. There is a lot we are going to face in our lifetimes that is going to completely change how we live but hardly anyone is preparing or even talking about it. I found the main character a bit abrasive and heartless when it came to his relationships particularly in regards to his wife. However that served to make him seem all the more genuine.

Thanks Bobby, really made me think.
Jun 06, 2014 rated it liked it
I had been looking forward to reading this for quite a long time, but sadly was a bit disappointed with it. For a book which was set in a supposedly utopian technology-free future, the language was incredibly technology-obsessed. I also found the writing style fairly naive, but maybe that was intentional. Don't think I will be reading the sequel.
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
The story of a man who gets taken to the future and talks a lot to the people there to find out how utopia came to be. If it had been the story of the founding of the utopia rather than the story of talking about the founding of utopia it might have been a better book, but really, just talking about it, Meh.
Quite readable and pleasant, but I somehow expected something better.
Paul Gannon
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this book. I think Robert has showed us his hope for the future in this novel :) This futuristic utopia could be a wonderful place to live; albeit a tad confusing at times. One thing I didn't like was how suddenly the book ended; however if this was the plan, to release a sequel, then I suppose it's okay.
Martin Watts
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good old fashioned utopia. You don't see many of them these days. Gavin is, as has been said in other reviews, a bit of a jerk but by the end of the book he is showing signs of improvement. Where will the tether take him next? My main quibble is that the space pods as described make no sense. Perhaps the author will give a fuller explanation elsewhere.
Jul 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really rather enjoying the tale, and then it was over. By that I mean, it didn't end so much as it just stopped. Having done some poking around on Google, I discovered that my Kindle edition wasn't actually missing any chapters (as I first thought), it just ends the way it ends. Ah, well - it certainly leaves open the possibility of a sequel, at least.
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great novel about the future where humans have not wiped themselves and all other live off the planet. An insight into what we need may need to do to ensure the future of our race. Brilliantly written, beautifully bound. The sequel is available to pre-order here
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The ending - possible spoilers 4 11 Jun 17, 2012 02:13PM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads data base.

Robert Llewellyn is an English actor, presenter, and writer. He is best known for his roles as presenter of Scrapheap Challenge, and as the android Kryten in the hit sitcom Red Dwarf.