Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Air” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.61  ·  Rating details ·  2,233 ratings  ·  219 reviews
Chung Mae is the only connection her small farming village has to culture of a wider world beyond the fields and simple houses of her village. A new communications technology is sweeping the world and promises to connect everyone, everywhere without power lines, computers, or machines. This technology is Air. An initial testing of Air goes disastrously wrong and people are ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Air, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Paul Jackson Personally, I enjoyed the very direct dialog and found it quite realistic. A shift in perspective may enable you to enter the head-space of the…morePersonally, I enjoyed the very direct dialog and found it quite realistic. A shift in perspective may enable you to enter the head-space of the characters and why they talked the way they did. I felt like it enabled my imagination to form very subtle images of the mannerisms of characters as they spoke; a kind of cinematic, almost script-like quality which I am a huge fan of. I am, however, not much into poetry or other flowery writing so I feel like many people will agree with both our opinions :)(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,233 ratings  ·  219 reviews

Sort order
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Oriana by: Joe R.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
There were many things I enjoyed about this gracefully written novel, and a few minor blemishes that were mildly irksome. The portrait of small village life in an imaginary (but realistic) third world country in Central Asia, the thought of which originally made me cringe a little, turns out to be so full of wonderful detail and character shading that you can almost smell the diesel fuel emissions from the passing trucks. In particular, some of the best, most dramatic parts of the novel come fro ...more
Pocas veces crítica y público coinciden, y ’Aire’ es uno de esos casos. En el año 2006 se hizo con algunos de los premios más importantes del género: Arthur C. Clarke, British SF, James Tiptree Jr. y Sunburst, además de ser finalista al Nebula, Philip K. Dick y John W. Campbell. Esto de los premios es relativo, pero en este caso realmente la obra se los merece. Geoff Ryman realiza una profunda reflexión sobre las consecuencias derivadas de la implantación de una nueva tecnología en una comunidad ...more
Alain Dewitt
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wow, really great read. I heard about this book from Amazon's adaptive marketing and from a podcast interview with Richard K. Morgan. Morgan was telling the interviewer that he thought 'Air' was better than his own award-winning novel, 'Market Forces'. As big a Morgan fan as I am (and there aren't many bigger), I have to say Richard's right.

'Air' is not just a good science fiction novel. It's a great novel period. It's one of the rare science fiction novels that is also a really good literary no
Vanessa - My own book of disquiet
O que achei deste livro? Não sei dizer ao certo.
A premissa é muito interessante e teria certamente muito potencial...
Não gostei nada do início - as coisas só começam a fazer (algum), sentido por volta da página 100 - e detestei o final.

Valerá a pena ler?
Apesar de tudo eu diria que sim.
Avance, sobretudo, no caso de não se importar em considerar algum do tempo de leitura perdido, um certo desapontamento final, e/ou de, tal como eu, ter o (péssimo?) hábito de não desistir de uma leitura depois de
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
wikipeidia has a nice non-spoiler summary of the plot concept, so I'll just quote it. "Air is the story of a town's fashion expert Chung Mae, a smart but illiterate peasant woman in a small village in the fictional country of Karzistan, and her suddenly leading role in reaction to dramatic, worldwide experiments with a new information technology called Air. Air is information exchange, not unlike the Internet, that occurs in everyone's brain and is intended to connect the world. After a test of ...more
Jul 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago but still remember whole sections; it absolutely astounded me. It's the tale of Mae, who lives in the not-quite-distant future. Mae is the exact opposite of an expected main character: middle-aged, not white, a woman, not a revolutionary or particularly gifted or chosen in any way. But her personality is so vibrant, and Ryman writes her world so well, that I couldn't imagine a more appropriate heroine.

Last year I saw Geoff Ryman speak, and he mentioned his ambivalence abou
Zen Cho
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, asia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff, tiptree_award
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nope
Firstly, I take issue with this book being listed on a best SciFi of the last decade list where I found it.

This is NOT a good SciFi book. The fictional science is weak at best, and outright fantasy at worst. This book would be a prime example of why many people see the genres of SciFi and fantasy to be blurred. In my opinion if you're going to write about implausible, bad science, just leave it and call it magic.

That is not to say this was a bad book, but simply a bad SCIENCE fiction book.

What i
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Sci fi club book.
It's a good thing this was an assignment, although we did feel it
started off a little slowly, we kept at it - and did enjoy it.
The basic premise describes the next generation of world wide
connectivity, AIR, a method that accesses and explores the Internet
directly by the mind.  An initial trial goes very wrong, overloading
many people to the point of suicide, but the full launch is still on
schedule. In a little and backward village in a Third World country
one of the villagers, Mae
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
A tiny mountain village in loosely fictionalized 2020 Asia is the test site for Air, the internet beamed right into your brain. Chung Mae is a proper wife and a fashionista – the test and her collapsing world make her become a whole hell of a lot more.

Marvelous. This is how a mcguffin story ought to work – Air doesn’t make the story happen, the story happens to it. But then again that’s Mae all over. She is this intense, homegrown, bootstrapped, amazing kind of savvy, sharp enough to cut herself
Ian Prest
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel (Kalanadi)
This is about the coming of technology, and the old way of life dying to make way for the new. It's about grieving and celebrating that change and struggling to learn how to live in a new way. I really loved the ideas and the people. The weird pregnancy storyline did put me off at the end though.
May 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
I gave up on page 9. seems patronising, badly written, ugh cringe. I borrowed this book at the last second because I love random sci fi....i have so many regrets
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
There is a most excellent book inside of this novel. Kizuldah is a poor back-water village in fictionalized Kazakhstan, where only the richest family owns a TV/computer and they let their neighbors use to watch kung-fu movies. However the internet is coming, specifically Air - a new wireless technology that is beamed directly into the brain. A trial run of Air goes wrong, but leaves the village woman Chung Mae with a permanent internet connection along with some side effects. It is both an oppor ...more
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Čo by sa stalo, keby bol internet (airnet) dostupný pre každého? Nepotrebovali by ste počítače, ani inú elektroniku, úplne by stačil len váš mozog a realita by zrazu dostala 11 dimenzií.
Príbehom nás vedie Mae, miestna dedinská udávačka módy, v zapadnutej dedine kdesi vysoko v horách. Miestny kolorit je úžasne podaný - aj susedia, aj ich charaktery - a ako sa menia - a ten, kto bol na začiatku nepríjemný, bude nepríjemný aj na konci, to áno, ale iným spôsobom. Dedina prežívala... Mix etník a nábo
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, dnf
I really did try to finish this book... but eventually gave in around the halfway mark. It wasn't that I found it particularly horrendous, more that life is too short, there is other stuff I want to read and I wasn't particularly enjoying it.

I got annoyed how the heroine (who was at first very likeable) was ALWAYS right and much cleverer than all the other characters, who were repeatedly portrayed as ridiculously stupid in comparison. And everything bad that could've happened to her did - so muc
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Mesmerising from the first page, an exquisitely drawn exploration of the impact of techonology on an isolated rural community, and how these "un-technological" villagers change the very nature of communication across the world using the same technology that almost destroyed them. A story of transformation, of unpredictable consequences of change, of the nature of communication, but especially of how solutions to present problems may not always be found in the halls of the powerful and privileged ...more
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasyandscifi
Set in the near future in what appears to be Kazakstan, Mae lives in a village which is the last place to be connected to the net. The next step is air which allows people to connect to the web straight to the brain, but there has to be a test of the new technology, a test which creates problems as well as oppotunities.
Takes a little while to get started but the characters range from loveable, to quirky, to strange etc.
Tim Hicks
Jul 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Sci-fi fans
An excellent exploration of how we think of less-developed countries and of where the Internet might go - and also an intriguing plot with believable characters. We're in "Karzistan" in 2020, and a backward village is about to get "Air", the wireless computerless network. One woman sees that everything will change, and tries to get the village ready. But something isn't quite right...
Michael Battaglia
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The cover copy reads like the entrance to some futuristic cyberpunk horror show but the story stars a middle-aged Asian woman who can't read yet still tangles with the government and eventually climaxes with a natural disaster. And despite everyone getting access to a form of the Internet, no one really talks about the very spine of the World Wide Web, namely adult entertainment and cats (and those dark, dark corners where such things are intermingled). What gives?

Ryman is an author whose name I
Kenneth A. Mugi
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
I brought 'Air' on a whim at a Borders' closing down sale. I saw the cover, liked the art and procured it for the less than a McDonald's value meal. I also brought it because I wanted to 'expand my reading horizons' by consuming something other than my standard fare of male heroic violence.

I don't believe that I wasted my time; I just think that this book is not written for me. I believe it is written by a very serious person for other very serious people who want to think about things in a ver
Daniel Roy
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
As William Gibson said, "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed." I travel a lot, and I see the evidence of this everywhere I go; I once sat in an Aboriginal village council meeting in rural India where discussions on the necessity of clean running water were interrupted by the village leader's ringtone.

Air is the story of that point when the future will be evenly distributed, and the one village on Earth that's the least ready to welcome it. The novel does something
Paul  Perry
Air takes place in the near future, in a poor village high in the remote mountains of a fictional central Asian republic. Just as the village gets its first joint TV and internet connection, a global test takes place for a new technology that allows every human being on the planet to access the web directly without the interface of a computer or machinery or any kind. Publicity for the test – only heard in the village at second hand from the nearest town – says that this technology, Air, will ch ...more
One of those books that took me a long time to read because I didn't want it to end. The protagonist is a delight--uneducated but always open to learning, judgmental but also quick to love and forgive, incisive about everyone around (and inside) her, and always and unrepentantly herself.

So often I ignore maps at the beginnings of books, but this one catches the eye; it's not a map of a world or a country or a city, but a single village, with a couple dozen houses (each named) and a handful of st
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Another Tiptree Award winner for my book club. This is the story of what happens when the last city on Earth to get online is suddenly given a brief test for Air - a quantum information interface that effectively gives you internet access in your head. The main character, Mae Chung, is with a woman who is killed by the test, and ends up not only with a live and very enhanced version of Air still in her head, but also with the personality and the memories of the dead woman.

The action takes place
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Příběh z blízké budoucnosti, ze světa takříkajíc "online". Pomocí nové technologie jsou zapojovány do celosvětové sítě přímo lidské mozky, nejsou tak už zapotřebí žádná další zařízení, Ale jako každá nová technologie, i tahle má své mouchy.
V zapadlé středoasijské vesničce místní vesničané pěstují rýži jako jejich předkové a okolní moderní svět je příliš nezajímá. Příchod Airnetu je pro ně něco na úrovni návštěvy mimozemšťanů (nebo místních bohů). A navíc když síť dosáhne až k nim, skončí první t
Deborah Biancotti
Jun 26, 2010 rated it liked it
I'm really impressed with how Ryman can push a premise to its logical conclusion. This is really what science fiction is meant to do; THIS is the literature of ideas!

And this is also the literature that proves you can write an interesting book about an unlikeable character. Chang Wei is superior & vain, & despite that I kept reading. I kept reading largely because the technology was so weird, & the abuse--really, the abuse--of it by frankly everyone with access to it (yes, including
Daniel Riveong
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, central-asia
This was a difficult book to review. The characters, especially the dialogue, are wooden and sometimes unconvincing, while the mechanism of the subplot was utterly ridiculous. I struggled through this at times because of these two factors.

Yet at the end, this was a illuminating sci-fi story that focuses on a broad impact of change. It is story that focuses on the cultural, social, economic, and personal upheavals brought by technological change, and that this technological change is neither goo
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's the Name o...: Mae [s] 3 21 Jun 26, 2013 09:21AM  
  • The Mount
  • Song of Time
  • Bold as Love (Bold as Love, #1)
  • Take Back Plenty (Tabitha Jute, #1)
  • Fairyland
  • The Execution Channel
  • The Separation
  • China Mountain Zhang
  • Dreaming in Smoke
  • Fools
  • Crescent City Rhapsody (Nanotech, #3)
  • Drowning Towers
  • A Woman of the Iron People
  • To Crush the Moon (The Queendom of Sol #4)
  • Solitaire
  • Brasyl
  • Felaheen
  • Yellow Blue Tibia
Geoffrey Charles Ryman (born 1951) is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and slipstream fiction. He was born in Canada, and has lived most of his life in England.

His science fiction and fantasy works include The Warrior Who Carried Life (1985), the novella The Unconquered Country (1986) (winner of the British Science Fiction Award and the World Fantasy Award), and The Child Garden (1989) (winner
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“He might as well have been talking English, for all Mae understood him.” 4 likes
“Once there was a dictator. He drove millions to various kinds of deaths, by war, in prison, or simply in harsh deserts farming their lives away. He destroyed temples, burned books, and ruined the art of calligraphy. He wrote terrible poetry and forced everyone to learn it, so destroying the literary taste of one quarter of humanity. He remained a warrior even as Chairman. He was at his best as a warrior, because as a warrior, he was fighting for his people, dreaming for them. After that, he only ground them down. But I forgive him for saying one beautiful thing:

'Women hold up half the sky.' -- Chairman Mao Tse Tung”
More quotes…