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3.54  ·  Rating details ·  830 ratings  ·  229 reviews
A computer program etched into the atmosphere has a story to tell, the story of two people, of a city lost to chaos, of survival and love. The program's data, however, has been corrupted. As the novel's characters struggle to survive apocalypse, they are sustained and challenged by the demands of love in a shattered world both haunted and dangerous.
Kindle Edition, 190 pages
Published November 30th 2014 by Aqueduct Press
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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Well this was a mess of a book in so many ways. I think I sort of see what the author was trying to do with it, but the story came across as a confusing jumble of scenes that danced around the main theme and had a conclusion that was downright unsatisfying and anti-climatic.

I think the author wanted to show the power and importance of love (I could be totally off base here) but the way they went about this was quite odd Not to spoil too much, but the beginning of the book has a series of scenes
This was one of the most emotionally powerful, surprising and poetic books I had the pleasure to read this year (and I read a lot).

Brissett presents in a delightfully sure-footed prose a book like a piece of music. The recurring theme is of love and loss narrated in ever changing variations along the whole bandwith of what love can constitute of. It is a memorial against oblivion. The reader could easily get lost in layer upon layer of different settings and lives, but Brissett skillfully uses r
Allison Hurd
An ambitious, imaginative retelling that I think juuuuust didn't quite gel.

CONTENT WARNINGS: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things that were very well done:

-The glitching. Gender, location, purpose, cause all kept changing around an evolving theme in a way that felt hallucinatory, fragmented and critical.

-The concept. From the retelling (I won't mention it, eith
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a very unusual reading experience, in that I found the writing itself to be wonderfully assured, subtle, and clear, with a simplicity and directness of approach that at times reminded me of the work of Octavia Butler. Many, if not most, of the individual sequences of this mosaic novel were effectively drawn, and were often quite evocative and affecting. And yet, I’m not sure that the collage approach that Bissett took paid off in the ways she hoped or aspired to. I was always enthralled ...more
Starts slow and muddled, but with some gorgeous prose and description and some small interesting plot developments. Then answers begin to emerge, and the sense of it all begins to pull together.
There were parts I didn't like, and the end was tragic in the vein of the Greek tragedies, as was the premise. But this work is very creative, and although moralistic, I never found it heavy-handed.

I think this finished my TBR 2018 Challenge, less than a year late...
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This is a weird and ambitious novel that pulls the ground out from under the reader every two pages. The prose is lovely and the structure gives room for more SFnal ideas in one book than many novelists get to put forth in their whole career. The characters are reinvented over and over again, always in orbit with each other, as the larger story gradually unfolds. There were one or two characterizations that put me off (view spoiler) ...more
Justin Howe
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A damaged AI seeks to understand itself and the story of how it lost its mate.

Possibly one of the more ambitious debut novels I’ve read, Elysium is a bewildering and rewarding read that proceeds from fragmentation to unity over a constantly shifting pattern of times and places. It avoids confusion by having similar characters and circumstances appear over and over again.

There’s a lot to grasp here, and a lot left unexplained, or at least a lot left for the reader to figure out on their own, but
Dawn C
*ETA: Changed the rating from 3 to 4 because it made enough of an impression that I'm still thinking about it.

This is one of those stories that didn’t really work for me until literally the last chapter or 15 minutes and then it worked REALLY WELL. I guess I love endings like this. It reminded me of the game SOMA in a way.

It would have worked better as a short story, though. It just took too long to get to the point.
Kristin B. Bodreau
This read like a fever dream crossed with a creative writing college assignment. Take two characters, put them in different scenarios, see what you can write in a couple hours, then swap. But make sure that you either have a fever of 103 or are on so much cold medicine that you are just as delirious. Lather, rinse, repeat. Ad infinitum. Or for 199 pages. Which in this case felt infinite. And throw in some lines of computer code while you're at it. Maybe your roommate is a computer science major ...more
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Elysium is a standalone science fiction novel by Jennifer Marie Brissett. It’s a short, fast read and it held my interest from start to finish.

In the first chapter, we meet Adrianne and Antoine, a couple whose relationship seems to be ending. There are also some slightly weird things, things that only Adrianne sees. In the second chapter, we meet Adrian and Antoine. Everything is different, and yet it’s really not. I don’t think I can say anything else about the story without spoiling the fun fo
Oleksandr Zholud
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a SF novel that from the start strongly reminds you of the Matrix. It was nominated for Locus Award for Best First Novel (2015) and won Philip K. Dick Award for Special Citation (2015).

The few first pages show us a pair that replay their relations again and again, the pieces are interjected with machine’s output, reporting about errors and attempts to restore data. The pair, Antoin(-e) and Adrian(-ne) from piece to piece shift their genders, so they are: a married couple, whose love burn
Debut novelist Jennifer Marie Brissett takes a simple story of loss—a very human story of loss and love—and refracts it into multiple narratives to explore interesting ideas related to AI, alternate realities, and memory and history.

The opening scene in Elysium starts off with a literary kick. Those first few pages read like a surreal, ghost-in-the-machine version of Mrs. Dalloway. In the first line, an omniscient observer of some kind swoops down and zeroes in on a city scene. It observes a w
This book is supremely weird, which would be great if the weirdness didn't keep distracting me from actually being able to emotionally invest in the story and the characters. I am quite awed by the author's bravery and creativity in how this book is framed, but I wish there were a few more lifelines in there for the reader so the abrupt changes and shifts didn't completely throw me off constantly. I still really enjoyed it, and curious to see what the sequel brings. I think this might work bette ...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Incredible! I can't believe that this perfect book is a debut novel. This is a story like you've never read before about human beings and love, about artificial intelligence and alien invasion, about apocalypse and alternate realities. It is so wonderful that science-fiction literature can still say wonderful, new and interesting things about what makes us human, about our connections with others, about love and its never-ending creations.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-club-read
This is going to be a spoiler filled review, I can't think of any other way to describe it. I liked it, weird while reading, less weird at the ending. (view spoiler) ...more
Linda Robinson
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unusual and masterful book: unusual in the visual typographical choices made, and the treatment of a world after. Masterful in the compilation of the plot lines. Really fun to read, like the best mystery. I tried to catalog the wait! that's going to be important parts, and then had to give up because it's all important. Every binary bit. Because every word contributes, it's tough to review with details. Superb writing in a debut novel by a writer I will follow. I bought this book in January as i ...more
I don't really know what to make of this book. There were some incredibly cool concepts, some things I absolutely hated (especially regarding the portrayal of the Hector/Helen character), and a lot of things I just never understood. This is a wildly ambitious book that was only partially successful in the execution, for me.
There is, allegedly, an unspoken codex for reviewers when it comes to debut novels. The short of it is: debut novels deserve a little slack. Harumpf, I say, and hogwash. Whether a book is someone’s first or their fortieth, I want to give it the same once over, the same burning eye of Sauron, the same bubbling enthusiam—where each applies. But there’s no need to turn a blind eye to the faults of Jennifer Marie Brissett‘s debut novel Elysium (2014, Aqueduct Press) because Elysium is a fucking grea ...more
Lis Ursell
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My reactions to this book, in order:

"Changing gender roles and maybe a computer program inside people's brains? I dig it."

"A broken computer program? Someone is trying to access it."

"Ok so now there's a brief interlude that feels like it's been pulled out of The Handmaid's Tale. I'm not sure where this is going."

"This is starting to feel like Inception. Also, wtf is up with all of the elk?"

"Ok now this is like Inception and the Matrix and The Handmaid's Tale has gone out the window but I don't
Skye Kilaen
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-genre-scifi
Reality-bending science fiction, really good! I went into this with zero details about the plot, because I'd seen Brissett on a panel and wanted to read some of her work, and I'm so glad I did. I suspect the story almost works better if you don't know what's happening the first time reality shifts. And it shifts a LOT. It's the story of two people, manifesting in different ways in different settings, but always with some kind of love between them, and usually struggling to survive. I don't want ...more
Ian Mond
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What’s It About

This is not an easy book to describe without giving away spoilers. So I’ve borrowed from the back cover blurb.

"As the novel’s characters struggle to survive apocalypse, they are sustained and challenged by the demands of love in a shattered world both haunted and dangerous."

Should I Read It?

Yes. While it’s another apocalypse novel it’s also the most imaginative book on the PKD ballot. Crammed with SFnal ideas that go well beyond your traditional apocalypse narrative, the novel has
Okay, it’s not that I hated this or thought it was problematic. I was just so confused and bewildered the entire time I was reading it. I still don’t understand anything. And that doesn’t make for an enjoyable reading experience. I don’t think I’m the correct audience for mind-bending/ambitious SFF, basically.

Read for August 22, 2019 SFF Book Club (The Sword and the Laser).
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled across this during a Google search for SFF written by WOC. It’s fresh and fascinating and I couldn’t put it down. Protagonists Adrian/Adrianne and Antoine/Antoinette cycle through genders, relationships to each other, and situations, as each story of their lives is cut off and rebooted by a computer program. Adrian/Adrianne loves Antoine/Antoinette in every iteration, but one thing throughout all the narratives is the same: one of them always loses the other.

Elysium tackles history,
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Well, I guess it was okay in the end. But be warned: it's kinda wacky. 😃 There's a man and a woman. Suddenly, both of 'em are men, and one of them is dying. Then they get back to being a man and a woman. Sometimes they switch several times in a single scene. One of them is hallucinating animals, when he/she isn't dying. Then there are modern-times ancient-roman-goddess worshippers, who are sometimes maybe aliens? Then they're both women again. Then one is pregnant and dying. Everyone's name star ...more
I really don't know how to write this review. To be truthful I wasn't excited to read this book, mostly because of the cover. Imagine my surprise when this became one of my favorite reads of the year. Elysium is complex, nuanced, and really needs to be read rather than explained. This is one of those rare reads wherein as soon as I finished it I immediately wanted to press it into the hands of everyone around me. To say this book is science fiction, or a post-apocalyptic tale, is to drastically ...more
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that turns everything you think you know on its head, over and over again. It should be super confusing, but it's not. That speaks to the clarity of the writing, but also the power of the story that carries through every place and time. This may be a science fiction story, but it's not about the sci-fi. It's about the two people who love each other. Their genders, circumstances, and relationships change, but they're always together. The story is compelling while you're reading it, ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, time-traveller
This was nice to have running in the background while doing other stuff, but it didn't affect Texas deeply as I thought it might based on the description.
I do wonder if this might be one that improves in a re-read.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up. An interesting, at times touching yet at other times frustrating, story told in overlapping narratives. I enjoyed most of the individual narratives and the threads of love, perseverance and meaning of humanity woven throughout. I admire what the author was trying to accomplish in telling a story with a structure that reveals only a little of the larger context in each iteration, but there were several instances where I felt it devolved into a trope or caricature when it cou ...more
Kim Kaso
3.5 rounded up to 4. More to come.
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The Sword and Laser: * Ely: August 2020 Pick Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett 30 190 9 hours, 13 min ago  
The Sword and Laser: Ely: it gets better (SPOILERS) 1 26 17 hours, 44 min ago  
Norwescon: Elysium 8 31 Mar 30, 2015 10:02AM  

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Once in her life Jennifer Marie Brissett owned an indie bookstore. Now she is an author and has written the novels ELYSIUM (Aqueduct Press) and DESTROYER OF LIGHT (coming out from Tor Books in Fall 2021!) Her work has been the finalist for a number of awards and has won the Philip K. Dick Special Citation. You can find her short stories in FIYAH Magazine, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Ligh ...more

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“Circumstances change everything.” 0 likes
-Io voglio imparare a volare.
-Ci sono tanti modi per volare, Antoine. Uno è mettersi queste ali. Un altro è farlo con la propria mente, e quello è il modo più bello. Vedere cose che gli altri non posso vedere e renderle reali con le tue mani ti fa volare più in alto di qualunque uccello - e ti rende più grande di qualunque creatura capace di uccidere, come me quando ho questo affare addosso. Ecco cosa voglio per te. Voglio insegnarti a volare nel modo giusto. Queste ali sono fine, figliolo. Solo la tua mente è reale.”
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