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The Incrementalists

(Incrementalists #1)

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,876 ratings  ·  358 reviews
"Secret societies, immortality, murder mysteries and Las Vegas all in one book? Shut up and take my money." —John Scalzi

The Incrementalists—a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.27  · 
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 ·  1,876 ratings  ·  358 reviews

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Steven Brust
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Yeah, so, this is the first time I've rated something I've written. It goes against every bone in my Minnesota body, but I tell myself that it's Skyler's parts I'm rating.

Several years ago, Tappan King suggested to me the idea of an immortal secret society dedicated to making the world just a little better. After I read Skyler's first two novels (and Falling, Fly; In Dreams Begin) I very much wanted to work with her. Hanging out with her one day, Tappan's idea came to mind, and we started kickin
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: not Brust's normal fans
Let me be honest: I’m a fan of Steven Brust. I like his complex world-building, his characters and his willingness to integrate challenging issues of race and class (and occasionally gender) into his writing. Unfortunately, while I was predisposed to love The Incrementalists, it fell flat for me.

Narrative is first-person, shifting between Phil and Renee, often multiple times in the same chapter. Someone decided to use some pretty cursive typeset to head the sections with “Phil” or “Ren,” and to
Walking around in a constant state of confusion might be the best way to sum up my feelings on this tale. If this muddled state actually led me to some definitive suppositions on the universe, or put me in touch with all the answers to THE INCREMENTALISTS, or even offered me a sense of well-being, I would have been okay with my scrambled brains and possibly the head scratching as well. But that wasn’t the case here. Instead, I felt a bit exhausted after finishing this tale, like I’d been running ...more
Kara Babcock
These people are oddly obsessed with putting bathrobes on after showering. She used his bathrobe, so he had to settle for a towel—what, you don’t towel off and then put on a bathrobe?

I was hesitant to borrow this from the library—the description screamed “generic pseudo–science-fiction thriller.” Neverthless, I resolved to give it a chance. I swear I didn’t notice that John Scalzi had blurbed it until I started reading. And it makes sense that Scalzi would blurb this, because it’s in his wheelho
Sep 22, 2013 added it
Started out okay, but I found the plausibility of the plot thin. Characters accepted too much at face value and, as more folks were introduced, I had a hard time distinguishing them. Ren and Phil felt interchangeable and their romance convenient and rushed. Weird.

The plot is interesting, but left high and dry while characters run around eating pizza and drinking coffee. The idea of the Incrementalists is also pretty damned cool, but not explored enough for my satisfaction.

I kinda had to force m
Feb 07, 2013 rated it liked it
As a left-brainer, my thoughts often stop me from fully enjoying stories. I don't need every little thing explained in extensive detail, but something more than vagueness. For a novel filled with symbols and analogies, my experience was less than optimal.

Logic-fail kept me from falling under The Incrementalists's spell. When even immortality sounds more believable than the concept herein, it's a sign the world-building is somewhat flawed. An incrementalist's memories can be implanted into someon
Oct 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013
I hadn't purchased a hardcover new release in years, but the flashy cover grabbed my attention in Powell's and it jumped into my cart. The cover (with it's impressive John Scalzi quote) might have been the best part.

Biggest issues:
The book is written in the first person, which is fine, but it jumps between POV several times in a chapter. That would also be fine if it added to the story. But, since the main characters are in a passionate, lust-filled relationship and unable to leave each other's
Thomas Edmund
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
The Incrementalists is in my opinion a lazy book. Two authors have clearly come up with a brilliant concept - immortal beings who 'meddlework' with us humans, ostensibly for the better, and preserve their lengthy lives by storing their memories jointly in a celestial garden and occasionally trading their psyches into a new body.

The laziness is apparent in the book lacking anything other than a great concept. The characters have little personality (despite the constant discussions about personalt
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I got to read an advance review copy of this book some time ago, and as I am drawn to books that not only defy genre, but actively buck it, The Incrementalists and I quickly became fast friends. Brust and White have created a complex and fascinating world that kept me thinking about it long after I put the book down. From a plot perspective, there's plenty here to keep you reading -- secret societies, mystery, romance, and a fascinating premise -- but it's the deeper threads and questions that s ...more
Sci-Fi & Scary
Jun 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I do not like male/female narrator pairings. That is the main thing I learned from listening to this book.

Other than that, it was a decent read but not one that stayed with me after finishing it. The idea of the Incrementalists is an interesting one but... well, yeah, that's all I've got for right now. May flesh this out later.

Basically good but forgettable.
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 stars. My copy of this book was an ARC I received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Tor Books and NetGalley for making that happen! My recent positive experiences with the Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust had made me curious about this novel, so I was looking forward to checking it out.

The concept behind The Incrementalists is a very interesting and original one, and it only gets wilder as you read more of the story. Phil and Celeste are part of a secret societ
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
40000 years ago, some folks figured out how to archive memories in the collective unconscious -- up to and including their own personalities. Result: a gang of more-or-less immortals, slipping under the radar of civilization, not trying to rule the world (their hold is not so sure) but to make it suck a little less.

This is a strange, low-key book. It doesn't much resemble SF or fantasy, although it works hard to make the memory-architecture of the Incrementalists feel like an interesting "magic
All Things Urban Fantasy
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

THE INCREMENTALISTS novel is one of those novels I expected to pick up and immediately love. I mean, c’mon, it’s set in Vegas, involves secret societies and is co-written by the amazing Steven Brust. Needless to say my hopes were extremely high when I started this book and then they quickly came crashing down.

I freely admit that my score for this novel is partly based on the expectations I had for THE INCREMENTALISTS. Reviews are entirely subjective and
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE INCREMENTALISTS is not an easy book to talk about. From the blurb, you get pretty much everything you need going in: secret society, two main characters, subtle magic, modern day.

What you don't get is the beauty. The way the early confusion unfolds like a night-blooming desert flower, revealing not just cleverness but compassion for the reader. You don't get the laugh-out-loud jokes and the quiet harmonies. You don't see two masterful writers using all of their art to create a work of treme
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was ok

The Incrementalists was a book that I was very excited about. Its was co-written by Steven Brust whose Jhereg series was intriguing. This book however failed to capture my attention throughout.

The book has a very interesting take on immortality & human perceptions in regards to immortality. I couldn't connect with main two characters through out the story and in the end at least for me this book was something that I finished reading but didn't want to review.

This will have its fans & again i
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
When I get on with Steven Brust, we get on extremely well. Although it doesn't happen as often, when I don't get on with him, I get really, really aggravated, as happened here. (No idea how much of that was the co-author.) The book sounded very interesting, but I didn't kill it with high expectations - just couldn't understand why this group of special people was supposed to be anything other than arrogant creeps. Add to that writing that seemed designed to leave the reader following with maximu ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting concept, strong start- weak finish...
Kate Stone
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Steven Brust's most recent work and finding it intriguing but ultimately a little incoherent, I was delighted to go back and discover one of his earlier works that reminded me why I find his work so compelling. It's especially remarkable given that it tries some of the same narrative tricks, notably that it's written in first person from two different perspectives. The technique gives it something of an off-balance feeling that worked better for me with the story being told. It may ...more
Maine Colonial
Oct 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
What a terrific premise, I thought, when I read the book description. A secret society--the Incrementalists--has existed for all of human history and they "meddle" with people with a goal of bettering society. Sometimes that works out well, sometimes not. Incrementalists have finite bodies, but their memories and wisdom are immortal, because they are "stubbed" into a new recruited Incrementalist.

Celeste, Phil's lover for the last 400 years, give or take, has died in her physical body and Phil ch
Dec 05, 2013 rated it liked it
The Incrementalists creates an interesting vision of a secret society of individuals who have unlocked the potential of the human mind. Not only are they able to subtly influence individuals - a process they call "meddling" - to do their bidding, but they have learned how to store and access memories remotely through The Garden... essentially a communal memory palace. Moreover, they're capable of actually cheating death by implanting the memories and personality of dead members in a new body.

Chris Bauer
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Immediately after finishing this work by Steven Brust & Skyler White I felt as though somebody had scooped my brains out with a spatula, rearranged more than a few neurons and dumped it back in the cranial cavity.

"The Incrementalists" does so many things "right" on so many different levels, that I'll be pondering it for some time to come.

The duo of authors take common tropes (immortality, secret societies, etc.) and promptly scrambles it all into something new and undone before.

I won't/ can't go
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Why did I enjoy this book? It beats me. As far as I can tell, it broke practically every rule I have for an enjoyable novel.

To begin, it's told from alternating viewpoints: Phil (I'm betting written primarily by Steven Brust) and Ren (Renée - presumably written by Skyler White). I'm a simple sort, and easily confused, so despite the fact that every section is headed by the name of the first-person character, I fairly often got a page into a change of viewpoint before realizing that I was thin
Althea Ann
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Found an advance copy of this on the ‘free’ shelf at work, and was pretty enthused – I’ve read Brust before, and found his books to be good fun.

However, this one didn’t do it for me. The premise is engaging: an ancient secret society has knowledge of the technique of transferring memories from one body to another (as well as storing information in a kind of mental ‘cloud’ internet). The society is devoted to using their experience and knowledge to become adept at psychological manipulation, whi
I need to learn not to trust the blurb, let alone the endorsement of people I admire.
What a disappointment this was...boring, muddled and with dialogues that alternate between "look how clever we are" and "sitcom with laugh-track".
We're told the characters are fighting this dangerous and possibly world-changing battle and urgency, no sense of danger, no energy at all.
The whole Incrementalist idea, this brilliant, brilliant idea is just used as a backdrop for a insta-love romance with se
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Martin
This wasn't the book I wanted it to be.

It seemed to start out as a book about a secret society of immortal-ish people who "meddle" in human affairs to make things slightly better. I liked the idea of an Illuminati-lite, and I was willing to set aside the fact that I would have found it more interesting if they actually were immortal, rather than having a weird process of essentially taking over new hosts with old memories when they die.

But the whole process of how the memories are passed forward
... Brust and White are a powerhouse duo. The text flows smoothly. Their prose is often hauntingly beautiful and poetic, and filled with atmosphere. While this is a rather serious book that will make you work for it, the authors keep enough humor throughout to keep the serious, deeper notes from becoming too overwhelming. The Incrementalists is a gripping, keep-you-guessing, not-what-you-expect sort of read. It might be confusing. It is definitely deep and thought provoking. The first person per ...more
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: hipsters
Recommended to David by: I liked some of his other books
First Person. Las Vegas. Poker. Secret Society. Immortals. Reincarnation. Insta-Love™. Mind Control. Omphaloskepsis. Power Struggles. Lost Interest.
(view spoiler)
Fantasy Literature
Dec 03, 2013 rated it liked it
The Incrementalists is collaboration between authors Steven Brust and Skyler White. I was more familiar with White going in, having enjoyed her trippy novels and Falling, Fly and In Dreams Begin. My experience with Brust’s vast catalogue was sadly limited to having read The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars many years ago while obsessively collecting the FAIRY TALE SERIES. In The Incrementalists, Brust and White team up to create a millennia-old secret society dedicated to making the world better... ...more
Despite some of my reservations, I can’t deny that The Incrementalists is a unique and surprising novel about the power of memory and the impact of even the smallest actions. Its occasionally breezy tone masks a spectacular amount of depth and history. When it allows that depth to shine through, The Incrementalists is at its best. I’m glad I read it, and I’m glad there are authors who still manage to surprise even their long-time fans.

Read the entire review on my site Far Beyond Reality!
Tasha Turner
So many mixed feelings on this one. Some fascinating world-building, interesting characters, even though it's more philosophical than I usually like I was drawn into the philosophical ideas. Was surprised by the explicit sex scenes and thought they were for the most part unnecessary YMMV. Some if my issues have to do with how several of the women were portrayed and how sex was used to manipulate. To say more would be giving away spoilers. So as I said very mixed feelings with parts I loved and p ...more
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Steven Karl Zoltán Brust (born November 23, 1955) is an American fantasy and science fiction author of Hungarian descent. He was a member of the writers' group The Scribblies, which included Emma Bull, Pamela Dean, Will Shetterly, Nate Bucklin, Kara Dalkey, and Patricia Wrede, and also belongs to the Pre-Joycean Fellowship.

(Photo by David Dyer-Bennet)

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Incrementalists (2 books)
  • The Skill of Our Hands (Incrementalists, 2)

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