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Out on Blue Six

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  287 ratings  ·  49 reviews
In a totalitarian future controlled by the Compassionate Society, the Ministry of Pain, and the Love Police, cartoonist Courtney Hall finds herself a fugitive. Her only escape is to an underground society--a society of violence and decadence Courtney must traverse to realize her dreams.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 1st 1989 by Spectra
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  287 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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A playful romp and the onset of rebellion among the citizens of a utopia run by computers. It is about 500 years since the big “Break”, when most of humanity destroyed itself in some war or ecological disaster, and one city, Yu, was preserved and nurtured by the AIs and now comprises about 1.5 billion people. In this sort of Brave New World, people are channeled into various castes with daily life managed to maximize happiness. There is a Polytheon of gods to worship, and the Love Police and the ...more
Althea Ann
It’s always a great feeling to find a cyberpunk dystopia that I’d somehow overlooked.
Reminded me – just slightly – of Melissa Scott’s ‘Dreamships’ and ‘Dreaming Metal,’ – mostly because the story focuses on transgressive artists in a future, cyber city with strict caste rules.

Here, Courtney Hall, yulp (it’s the ‘yuppie’ caste), a successful cartoonist, wants to do a bit more with her comic strip, and introduce some social satire into it. She’s given a warning – but when she resorts to using a ha
Had this from NetGalley aaaages ago, and finally got round to reading it now. It's something very much in the vein of 1984, with some aspects clearly riffing on that, and it gives me really major déjà vu about something I've read before (but which I suspect was published since). It's one of McDonald's earliest novels, published in the year I was born, and yet I don't think it's gone out of date as speculative fiction so often can.

In a way, I found it predictable: once you know the roles of certa
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
In a teeming city of arcologies and love police, the only illegal thing you can really do is disrupt the happiness of others as mandated by The Compassionate Society, a governing body composed of seven benevolent AIs originating from ancient corporate bodies.

Welcome to Yu, where the manswarm walk rain soaked streets the neon and gray of noir Korean films. Yu is where you live in buildings, veritable cities in themselves, that thrust into the monsoon sky where wire runners slide on the cables wi
David Willson
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I first became familiar with Ian McDonald from his first novel Desolation Road, published in 1988, and since have always considered him one of the best writers in science fiction. When I saw Out on Blue Six offered at an e-book discount I grabbed it. Even though new to me, it was another early novel in his career (either two or three, based on some rather incomplete bibliographies out there).
McDonald has a definite propensity for putting visual and performing art at the forefront of his stories.
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an electronic copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.

This is one of the most intoxicating, wild, and imaginative science fiction novels I've had a chance to read. The introduction by Cory Doctorow compares it in terms of broad thematics to 1984 and Brave New World, with good reason, and I understand why Doctorow would return to this novel to reread again and again.

McDonald writes this following two protagonists who are fighting to exist outside of the Compassionate Society, bu
Tom Rowe
Weird, wild, whimsical. Ian McDonald is quickly becoming a fave author. Imagine John Bruner and Dr. Seuss writing a story like Big Trouble in Little China. On audiobook, Jeff Harding really captures the music in the language of this book. And listening at double speed was fun just to hear the rhythm of the whole thing.

If you like weird science fiction, this is the story for you. If you don't like weird, stay away. It will lose you right at the beginning. Actually, the book was better at the beg
Feb 09, 2014 rated it liked it
His first novel, I believe. All of his interests are there: super intelligent computers, AI or as near as, the multiverse (although only referenced here, unlike Brasyl), the 'god' who knows all and nothing and a sweet romantic streak. A little shaky in parts but that seems to stem from lax editing and this being an early effort. Read this if you are a completist of Mr McDonald's work but you are better off reading River of Gods and Brasyl.
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've not read anything from Ian McDonald before, but if this book is typical of his skill, Imma fix that right away.

Take Douglas Adams, William Gibson, and Ogden Nash, blend them together and strain them through Lewis Carroll, and the result might vaguely resemble Out On Blue Six. Excellent, poetic, and zany as hell.
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Imaginen un remake de 1984 escrito a seis manos, por George Orwell, Terry Gillian y China Mieville, después se le entrega a Philip K. Dick para que lo reescriba y a final William Gibson lo rehace en clave cyberpunk.
Brenda (aka Gamma)
Brave New World falls down a rabbit hole and goes on a techno-based acid trip. That's honestly how I'm going to remember this.

I might recommend it to someone wishing for more creative science fiction, but I needed to care about a character or a plot.
Mario Di Maggio
Jan 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
I love science fiction set in the not-too-distant future, so I was drawn to the setting of this book: planet Earth after the (impending?) economic and environmental collapse.

To avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, a tightly controlled Compassionate Society is subsequently established, ensuring happiness and stability become law. Exploitation of others (in any form) is not allowed - with this state of affairs strictly enforced by the Ministry of Pain and the Love Police.

The Compassionate Soc
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Summary: Interesting, Interesting, Interesting ... The premise didn't quite work and I found it hard work to understand the basics. But an interesting and convoluted plot with an unexpected ending. Overall very imaginative

Plotline: Plot seems to go in many strange directions, but it all makes sense in the end

Premise: Slightly weird and not somewhere I would like to be

Writing: Imaginative but the writing didn't really flow for me

Ending: Unusual

Pace: Never a dull moment!
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
God, I've read so many disappointing books recently. This book had so much potential but McDonald just ruined it with excessive additional vocabulary. On the first page alone we find:
- Arcologies
- Co-habs
- Caste
- Yulp
Why is this necessary? Any form of world building would be appreciated before throwing us into a dystopian world.

I love the concept, but the execution killed me. DNFed
John Ostwald
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
So, imagine getting buffeted around in a blender with several sci fi novels, a dystopia, a few children's books, a radio dj, a beatnik poet and a generous handful of mind altering substances. That's a reasonable approximation of this book. And yet it hangs together pretty well and is, on the whole, quite enjoyable. Works well as an audiobook.
Toomas Nipernaadi
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I would have loved this one in 1989.

But what I seek in fiction has changed and the world is different place today, so I forced myself to finish it just so I could be aware what I missed.
AnnMarie Johnson
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
I recall loving this as a young adult. I found it very difficult to finish as a somewhat older adult. :(
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had a bit of a hard time finishing the book. At a certain point around 2/3rds of the way in the language got just too flowery and psychodelic.

In any case, it's pretty good!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kat  Hooper
Jul 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

Courtney Hall is a cartoonist because that’s the job she’s been assigned by the tyrannical government agencies that dictate all of the details of everyone’s life — where they live, who their friends are, who they marry, what job they do. The goal of the government, which consists of such agencies as the Ministry of Pain, the Compassionate Society, and the Love Police, is to analyze every citizen’s genes and personal
Glen Engel-Cox
Nov 14, 2014 rated it liked it
After my review of McDonald’s short story collection, Speaking in Tongues, several people, among them Michael Sumbera, recommended to me what they felt was McDonald’s best novel, Out on Blue Six. There was also some attention focused on the novel on rec.arts.sf.written, because of its similarity to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. The comparison is not misplaced, although McDonald has a different agenda than Gilliam. Both stories feature a huge government that relegates people’s lives, in which a small m ...more
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
As has been mentioned, it calls to mind Terry Gilliam's movie Brazil which came out a few years before. But, other than the general environment and atmosphere, there's really very little similar. It's like comparing Last Exit to Brooklyn and City of Glass. Yeah, they're both set in New York, but that's beside the point and it doesn't diminish either of them.

I have to admit that, while I knew Ian McDonald, I'd never even heard of this book. I really wish I had so I could have read it earlier. I r
Fantasy Literature
Oct 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Courtney Hall is a cartoonist because that’s the job she’s been assigned by the tyrannical government agencies that dictate all of the details of everyone’s life — where they live, who their friends are, who they marry, what job they do. The goal of the government, which consists of such agencies as the Ministry of Pain, the Compassionate Society, and the Love Police, is to analyze every citizen’s genes and personality so that they can be assigned to the lifestyle that will minimize their pain a ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
...Out on Blue Six is a marvelous trip though a dystopian future but in the end I think McDonald doesn't manage to put all that creativity in the service of novel as a whole. That being said, there are people who absolutely adore this book. Author Cory Doctorow, who wrote the introduction to this edition, among them. For some readers this novel works, but I suspect it has a quite modest following. Creatively, McDonald pushed the style of his earlier work as far as it would go in this novel. So f ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I bought this on the recommendation of someone, sometime. Given my ebook has a forward by Cory Doctorow, it was probably someone (if not Cory himself) on Boingboing. I am SO glad I bought this book, ages ago, but not that I hadn't yet read it. It is SO good. Such great thoughts about the future of humanity, what it is to be human, what happens when all the ice on earth melts, and AIs. I particularly loved that two of the three main characters were women, one of them not slim and athletic.

I now w
Aug 02, 2014 added it
Shelves: gaveup
I think Ian McDonald is not for me - I keep trying his books and just can't get into them. Someone convince me to read one I'll like - I've read Brasyl but didn't really enjoy it, and I tried River of Gods but couldn't get into it (I haven't officially given up on it yet because I still like the idea of it and may try again).
Lee McIlmoyle
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes my writing or tastes in books and movies.
Recommended to Lee by: No one.
It's been decades since I read it, and I don't remember the story now (and would dearly love to find another copy, as the one I read was borrowed from the library). However, I've got this little flag in the memory banks that assures me I loved that book dearly, and if I read it now, it would probably come rushing back to me.

That said, as I can't remember the book properly, I won't rate it until I do find a copy (at a reasonable price).

Does anyone have Ian McDonald's email address? Perhaps he ha
Nov 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
I really really tried to 1) like 2) understand and 3) finish this book. But I just couldn't!
Total confusion isn't a bad thing. Like when there are so many characters you can't keep them straight. But in this book I could keep them straight, after I realized we'd changed from one to another; I just didn't care anymore. And the names made less than no sense Love Police, pantycar, yulp and Ministry of Pain. And the best ones famulus, arcologies, zillie and tlakhs. There's no dictionary that covers
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
while the story is not the most original or thrilling, McDonald's language sparkles! This is pure sci fi nonsense uplifted to pynchon-like heights - McDonald manages to world build with clever word combinations, brilliant use of satire/puns, and a lightness of prose that is wonderfully readable. This novel's language sings the pure joy of imagination and invention and reminds me while science fiction is a liberating genre full of potential and endless expanses.
Walter Underwood
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who value worldbuilding over characters
Astonishing world-building, but at the expense of character and plot. I put it down a few times, but finished it because I wanted to know what happened to the city, not because of the characters.

This was McDonald's first novel and the problems are teething pains, not permanent flaws. His River of Gods has a rich world, real characters, and a twisted, involving plot.
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Ian Neil McDonald was born in 1960 in Manchester, England, to an Irish mother and a Scottish father. He moved with his family to Northern Ireland in 1965. He used to live in a house built in the back garden of C. S. Lewis’s childhood home but has since moved to central Belfast, where he now lives, exploring interests like cats, contemplative religion, bonsai, bicycles, and comic-book collecting. H ...more