No one can remember anything--who they are, family and friends, or even how to read. Reality has fragmented and Earth consists of an islands of rock floating in an endless sky. Food, water, electricity--gone, except for what people can find, and they can't find much.
Faller's pockets contain tantalizing clues: a photo of himself and a woman he can't remember, a toy solider with a parachute, and a mysterious map drawn in blood. With only these materials as a guide, he makes a leap of faith from the edge of the world to find the woman and set things right.
He encounters other floating islands, impossible replicas of himself and others, and learns that one man hates him enough to take revenge for actions Faller can't even remember.
Will McIntosh is a Hugo Award-winning science fiction author, and a winner or finalist of many other awards. His alien invasion novel Defenders, is currently optioned for a feature film, while his Middle Grades novel The Classmate has been optioned for a TV series by Disney/ABC.
Along with ten novels that have been translated into nine different languages, Will has published over sixty short stories in magazines such as Asimov's Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed.
Will was a psychology professor before turning to writing full time. He lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, and is the father of twins. You can follow him on Twitter @willmcintoshSF.
This was amazing! I'm quickly revising my growing list of books that should be nominated for next year's Hugo, and this one certainly fits the bill. :)
The ideas are really awesome. Two big ones, slamming against each other in a truly horrific and out-there way, and all the while, our MC, Faller, falls through the skies on his quest.
The book has a parallel structure to it. The present mess and the past slowing catching up to where the present mess began. Revealing the events that made a world that has been broken into city-sized chunks that are repelled from each other as if we were all a part of quantum physics was nearly as fun as jumping and falling from each one of these lands.
And what's the other big idea? A virus that wipes everyone's memories. That reveal was pretty amazing, too, as was the epic battle between two old friends, one of whom blames the other for his wife's death and the Faller, who has lost all his memories.
Each world-island is just a dystopian present-day world that we know, with no one remembering how to use technology, no power to run things, and not even the ability to read. It feels pretty hopeless, but Faller has the picture of his wife and a map directing him far, far below, through the clouds and islands, to where he might find the answers. Any answers. It's a pretty sweet setup, and the adventure is downright awesome.
But how could something like this, the inclusion of a duplication machine, a singularity, and an Earth turned into a macroscopic version of quantum fields actually resolve into a glorious story, rather than a cool premise? Ah, don't worry about that. It does. Rely on the author to walk you through the cool reveals and set us up for one hell of an awesome resolution. :) He pulls it off.
I'm really excited for this year's best SF, and this one certainly fits that bill. :) This was really gloriously cool SF.
Great concepts, fearless execution and a very solid story with characters that I can't help but love.
I am at a loss for words. I like it. I really like it.
Everything starts on Day One when people cannot remember who they are or what happened to the world. And the world is not what it's supposed to be. The world is small, circular and there are clouds all around it. This is the place Clue wakes up to. He has no idea who he is, only that he has a picture, a map, and a small toy in his pocket.
Then Clue becomes Faller as he starts falling from one world to another. He discovers the woman in his picture, only to find another one just like her on other worlds. And not only her. There's another woman who keeps appearing on all worlds. And everything is as confusing as it can be.
At the same time, we get another storyline, the one from before Day One. It tells about a brilliant scientist called Peter an his greatest discovery. Slowly we learn Faller's story and what happened to the world.
I will admit that it was a bit hard getting into the novel. At first we know just as much as Faller does, and that's very little. Also, there's this horror at the beginning where . It made me cringe.
But then, as you learn more and more, you cannot help be fascinated with McIntosh's book. He spoke to my inner science-freak. There is a duplication machine and a a virus that makes everyone forget just about everything. And then, there's the thing that tore the world apart.
Faller is truly a great book with a perfect ending. I highly recommend it!
*I thank Will McIntosh, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
What a strange, strange book. But in a good way. Incidentally, that’s what I always think after finishing one of Will McIntosh’s novels. I’m a huge fan of the author, precisely because his ideas are always so unique and original—and yes, they can sometimes be off-the-wall as well. Faller probably isn’t his best work; the writing wasn’t as tight and the story’s many parts were a little incongruous, but that could be due to the book’s subject matter which admittedly is not my cup of tea. As long as you’re willing to accept a wildly unfeasible premise and some logical leaps though, this book is an overall fun time.
The story opens with a man suddenly becoming aware of himself while standing in the crumbled ruins of a floating city island. He has no memory of who he is, who his friends and family are, or where he comes from. He has even forgotten how to read. Looking around, he notices other people in the streets, but they all look just as lost and scared as he is. The only clue to the man’s identity are the items in his pocket: a toy soldier with a parachute, a candy wrapper with strange symbols on it scrawled in blood, and a photo showing himself smiling beside a woman he can’t recognize.
Before long, the survivors from what has become known as “Day One” are killing each other over the dwindling resources on the island. The weak, including children and the elderly, are deemed a burden and are mercilessly thrown off the edge to die. Our protagonist, inspired by the little toy soldier in his pocket, dubs himself Faller and decides to fashion his own parachute, initially as a stunt to help him and his newfound allies earn food. But unfortunately for them all, his big jump goes wrong, and to Faller’s horror he finds himself accidentally sailing over the edge and into the abyss.
Just as he thinks it’s all over though, that’s when he makes a startling discovery.
Alternating between Faller’s narrative and flashbacks to the lives of a group of scientists in the months leading up to Day One, McIntosh weaves a twisted tale of a world literally shattered—by war and by warped physics. Faller is a bizarre book and it admittedly requires no small amount of patience if you want to get down to the bottom of this mystery. On the face of it, I can understand why the author decided to structure the novel this way, but it also gave rise to many distractions and interrupts to the flow of both past and present stories. I also found myself more drawn to flashback chapters because that was where you would find the meat of the “science fiction” in this book, while the Faller sections were weirder and more confusing. Still, the mystery was tantalizing enough that at no point did I ever want to stop reading; I knew that the further I got, the more the clues will start leading to answers.
However, quantum physics and mechanics have never really been my favorite topic in sci-fi. While I enjoy reading about the science and theory, a lot of books that seek to tackle it often don’t do a satisfying job with the details. This is a problem I ran into with Faller. A lot of the scientists’ experiments and the scientific phenomena described in this book aren’t well explained, and in many instances you just have roll with it. If you don’t mind that a lot of the science is glossed over and rushed, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Otherwise, the many plot holes and questions left by logical gaps will make this one tough to get into.
But even with its implausible premise, I thought Faller offered a fun and engaging experience. You only have to see how quickly I devoured this book to know that. This is the fourth novel I’ve read by Will McIntosh, and even though it wasn’t my favorite of his, there’s definitely a reason why he will always be on my must-read list. While he admitted in the acknowledgements that this was a challenging novel to write, I’m glad he’s continuing to push the boundaries and experiment with bold ideas. I’ll always read anything he writes.
Thank you to Tor Books and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review purposes.
In the year of Dark Matter hype, it's understandable that the beginning of Faller feels somewhat (but not overly) familiar. A man comes to in the middle of a street, and literally everything is a mystery. He has no idea who he is, where he is, what has occurred, and these are just the first few of the questions that keep on coming at full speed.
In a world that resembles our own but is very different in several obvious ways - the most obvious being that it's much smaller, that this man's panic and circumstances are catching like a disease, the forgetting appears to be some sort of epidemic - chaos reigns. The contents of the man's pocket are only small, unhelpful clues at first glance - there's a photo of him with a woman, a toy parachuting man, and a paper with unintelligible symbols drawn in blood.
It's through an act of sheer desperation that this man, who comes to adopt the name Faller, falls off the edge of the world - and onto another yet strange world. This is just the first step of a long journey. There are an innumerable amount of worlds, and Faller ventures to many of them, searching for answers and the woman in the photo with him. It's no cakewalk, falling from world to world - there's little peace to be found with everyone in a similarly frantic state of forgetting, a run on limited resources, and people having odd reactions to him - and soon enough, trying to kill him. Faller must outrun enemies he can't put names or faces to, so how can he ever hope to outwit them?
In the midst of this narrative, we get interweaving chapters of a parallel story - a Nobel-prize winning scientist living a somewhat happy-go-lucky life apart from a terrible war over energy that's going on, his sister-in-law getting very ill with a terrible and fatal disease, a dangerous but thrilling invention and discovery that leads to man playing God, and eventually a terrible rift with a friend. It is through these chapters and people's reactions to Faller that the pieces start to fall together (pun intended).
Unfortunately, there are quite a few major problems with this book. It's slow to get off the ground and frustrating, and I found myself wanting to give up many times, pressing on only because I expected it to improve. It drags in several places and there are many holes in logic and answers that never come, characters that don't feel believable or rational. Even after the Big Picture becomes clear, it simply doesn't make sense - and yes, this is sci-fi/fantasy and it doesn't have to make sense, and that could be forgiven if the story adhered to its own established logic, but it doesn't. There are too many glaring plot holes to make this feel like a worthwhile reading experience.
2.5 stars because there are some good ideas here about fate, identity, sacrifice, and redemption, but I never warmed to the characters and was left scratching my head.
In the first, a man 'comes to' in the midst of a crowd. Everyone present seems to have lost their memory. They don't know who they are; how or if they are connected to the people around them. The objects they see seem vaguely familiar, but they're not sure exactly how to use them. Their 'world' is something that the reader recognizes as a few city blocks, seemingly ripped from their proper place and floating like an island in space. But "a few city blocks" is lacking in resources, and a bunch of amnesiacs aren't the best at cooperative survival. But our protagonist still seems to have a bit of curiosity; and a toy in his pocket leads him to make a parachute. This, in turn, will lead to the incident that spurs him to name himself "Faller."
In the second, we meet a brilliant physicist and his colleague (and relative-by-marriage). One is about to receive the Nobel Prize, and the other is quite resentful about the lack of accolades that he feels that he deserves. However, the discovery is quite remarkable - a duplicator that spits out copies of whatever is placed into it - with tweaks, this can be used to create organs for transplants. But that's just a first step. The device could end world hunger... could end energy worries - could transform the world. But these glorious plans go awry when one desperate experiment goes wrong, and human weakness and unpredictable effects cause the world to truly be transformed - but not in the way that was hoped.
A lot of the plot elements were a little random-feeling and far-fetched for me, but I think many fans of contemporary thrillers with a sci-fi element will find this to be right up their alley.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Tor for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.
The book is aptly titled as it felt like you're free falling through the pages of this non-stop action, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery. It was an easily devoured book that moved at a fast pace, always guessing and always wanting to turn the page to see what happens next.
The book opens with everyone waking up without any memory at all. They can't read, they don't know who they are, where they are, nothing. They can speak, they can even recall what things are called but not how to use them. There's no power..... what else?... what else?.... oh yeah... and they are on a fairly small piece of land floating in the middle of nowhere and the edges just drop off into oblivian! This is Day One.
Running parallel to this story is another. I don't want to say much else about the story. Obviously the two stories running at different times converge for plenty of reveals throughout the book. Just the description of Day One had me plenty interested enough to read this novel so if you're like me then skip reading anymore reviews to avoid even mild spoilers as the reveals will be that much more grandiose. Just know it's action packed... i'm talking like you'd probably need Jason Statham to play Faller or something but in the kind of movie you'd never find him in full of big ideas and plenty of Sci-Fi. Though it's almost more Fantasy than Sci-Fi if you ask me. The explanations are fairly weak and this may turn some hard Sci-Fi fans off. The only way you can enjoy this is if you're willing to just roll with it. If you can get past the implausible scenarios and almost read this as an urban fantasy then it becomes all that more fun because that's really what this novel is.... FUN.
If you're still not convinced then let me tell you of another book that I couldn't help thinking about while reading this. It reminded me a lot of Dark Matter. There are certain themes at play that are obviously similar (we find these out early enough for this not to be a spoiler) and it was difficult for me not to compare the two. Dark Matter was action packed as well with limited (although better thought out) explanations on the science aspect. Dark Matter was a kiddie ride compared to the action here. That can be a good thing or bad thing depending on your tastes. For some it will be over the top and you won't be able to look past the implausible scenarios surrounding our characters. For others willing to look past and enjoy the ride, a hell of a ride it will be. Dark Matter had more heart overall but each story has it's own merits. I enjoyed the love story in both as well.
This was my first Will McIntosh read and I'm definitely interested in checking out his work further. Imaginative beyond reason but able to corral it in enough to provide something huge and unlike anything else. Pushing boundaries to provide us with something unique and again..... just a hell of a ride!!!
I began this book loving it: there is what will be called "day one", in which people found themselves hacing forgotten everything, even their names. Our main character, auto named Faller, finds in his pocket a pic of himself with a red haired woman, a toy soldier with a parachute and some kind of a map drawn with his own blood.
Soon, Faller discovers using a parachute he can float from the edge of the world to another one under it. Looks like Earth has been fragmented and memories erased... oh! and also there are lots of duplicates of people. What's going on?
Artfully complimenting this narrative we find another one, which tells us the story of a bunch of scientists looking for the cure of a new illness, making duplicates of organs and reforming virus... sounds familiar... too much to be a coincidence... That is one of the things that I enjoyed more about this book, how these two stories interlop until they end up making a sole story. What I haven't enjoyed was the lot of jumping around detailing all kinds of words and people (when those were important it was better), and also IMO I think sometimes the narrative was quite slow, moving things at a snail pace and making me lose interest. Towards the end, when most of the mysteries are resolved and there is the unpending ending is when I found my attention on the book fluctuating a lot.
Közepesen érdektelen disztópiából egy egészen szép világépítés kerekedett néhány tucat oldal után, amelyben szürreális, lebegő világtöredékek között ejtőernyőző hősökről, na meg kutatólaborban rejtegetett titokzatos szingularitásról olvashatunk, illetve egy biológiai hadviselésre épülő, egész világra kiterjedő világháborúról. Tetszett, ahogy a két, látszólag független történet váltogatta egymást és ahogy a várakozásoknak megfelelően fokozatosan egyre közelebb sodródtak a szálak.
Ugyanakkor a könyv kétharmada körül már sejteni lehetett, hogy több a habarcs, mint a tégla, és valóban: végül az igazán érdekesebb építőelemek teljesen kidolgozatlanok maradtak a regényben, a finálé felé haladva egyre csak halmozódtak az olcsó megoldások, a tessék-lássék odakent kötőanyag, miközben a szöveg is gyengült, a stílus is egyre inkább szétesett.
A visszatérő képletet tapasztaltam megint: néhány tényleg remek ötlet, viszonylag feszes kezdés, majd kiátlagolva egy inkább közepes kivitelezés, sok locsogás, túlírás. Hát kár érte.
Is there a way to say that the book had too much going on without coming across as a mentally inferior reader? I'm not, really not, but this book had too much going on, it overwhelmed at times. Although in all fairness if that's the main complaint about a book, that's a pretty good book. And so it was, a pretty good book, original, imaginative, well written...and positively crammed with different worlds, clones, singularities, apocalypses and action. I'm relatively new to science fiction and this one definitely concentrated heavily on the science part. In fact, all the story's conflicts and solutions are science based and scientists driven. The world as we know it ended based on the misguided applications of scientifically based power, misguided intentions and misguided ambitions. Faller woke up in a new world, no memories, just a toy parachute solider and a vague map. Now he has worlds to fall through and worlds to save, just him and a merry band of clones. This is a very clone happy book. And so through alternating timelines we learn the story of what happened to the world and what can be done about it. Faller is definitely a nesting doll of a book and after a while it seemed like a scifi show or maybe a movie. Too many balls were thrown in the air and, though the skill with which they were juggled was impressive, eventually it just as I mentioned before overwhelmed. Credit goes to the character development, the world building was not as elaborate, but there were so many worlds to build and only one to demolish. Some interesting ethical questions were also introduced about the cost of peace in a time of war and so on. Meant to check out this author before and I'm quite impressed, there's definitely talent at work. Entertaining, interesting and primarily enjoyable read and I'm glad to have found it on Netgalley.
Listen. This was a fast read, intriguing, not difficult in terms of language and sentence structure, but GOOD GOD several hundred (700 in particular) joules of energy on 250 mL of water raises the temperature by 0.8 degrees Celsius so it's NOT GONNA KILL ANYONE. In case you're not science minded, this is like, real real easy to look up yourself. Like. Wtf dude?
Lots of bad bad science. I could suspend my disbelief for a bit but like sorry nobody is going to win a Nobel prize for research they JUST completed and dude why isn't he more concerned about violating the law of conservation of mass-energy AND ALSO I will accept his stupid "the land masses are repelling one another" explanation but refuse the idea that clouds and atmosphere are all over. Just. What???
Honestly part of why I read this so quickly was because I knew I wouldn't be able to suspend my disbelief long enough to read this over more than a couple days, ha.
(Was he trying to say he fed the singularity a few hundred joules and then it made it exponentially larger??? I doubt it, but if so... okay I guess? Write better so it's clear?)
At the start of Faller, the new SF novel by Will McIntosh, a man regains consciousness lying on a city street. He doesn’t remember his name, the name of the city, or how he got there. In fact, his mind is almost completely blank, just like all the mcintosh-fallerother people who are waking up in complete confusion around him. What’s even stranger, the world appears to end a few city blocks from where the man woke up. Rather than more streets and buildings, there’s just a chasm looking out over empty sky, as if this fragment of a city was torn from a larger whole and then tossed into the air. This feels odd to the man, somehow, even though he has no recollection of what a city is supposed to look like.
I love this author. No matter what McIntosh always impresses me. In my opinion he is one of the most forward thinking and interesting writers in contemporary Science Fiction. Every book is not only entertaining and well written, but the story is peopled by characters who work against stereotypes and are believable and relatable and the worlds and plots he creates speak to current events, social and environmental issues and what it means to be human.
This book takes place in a very recognizable future. A plausible future, much like most of his other books. It has two story lines that switch each chapter and have connections that become more and more apparent and vital as the story continues. The first chapter puts readers right into the action, the main character, who doesn’t remember his own name, wakes up on the street, along with many other people who suffer the same memory loss. The first thing he notices is that the world is a chunk of cityscape, with edges that fall into the sky. He has no memories of before the moment he awoke on the street, but he along with everyone else, seem to remember things like the names of some landmarks, objects (like forks, baseballs, mailboxes, etc.) and feelings, but have a limited sense of their functions or reasons, such as knowing that a baseball was used in some kind of game, but not really remembering rules, or knowing that there is a word for what you’re forgetting, but not being able to remember the word.
The second narrative is much more similar to our current world. Peter is a scientist working towards figuring out how to create replicated tissue for organ transplantation, especially creating new healthy organs from infected tissue. The world is on the brink of war with several other countries, and a new disease Pearson-Jantz is affecting many people. Peter is hopeful that he and his boss Ugo (who is also married to his Sister-in-law) will help find a cure when his sister-in-law becomes infected with the deadly disease (and World War III breaks out), which has a prognosis of a short and painful life, he get’s asked an impossible question. Izabella wants him to duplicate her. He recently had success in duplicating a mouse, free from disease, using his machine, but he has no idea what the machine would do with a complex organism like a human. Like Izabella. But her time is running short and ultimately it’s her body, right? She should be the one to decide what happens to it. The decision Peter makes could lead to a scientific breakthrough...or it could lead to the death and murder.
As the reader progresses through the two timelines it becomes apparent that something with Peter’s machine has gone horribly wrong, but not exactly what, and the suspense created between the two narratives gives this novel one of the fastest paces of all McIntosh’s work I’ve read, it was an epic page-turner, in fact I had to put my cell phone out of reach when I needed to concentrate on something else, otherwise it was too much of a temptation to read ‘just one more chapter.’ The great thing about his books, including this one, is that his stories always make me think about the world and the issues humanity is already facing, such as wars over diminishing resources.
This is a must read for any science fiction fan. Those who enjoyed Scalzi’s Lock-in will find this a similarly toothsome mystery with characters who really speak to what it means to be human, especially in a world where technology gives us greater opportunities to bring both good and ill worldwide.
A book that should have been a lot better than it was. I was excited to find this in the book shop and was immediately intrigued. The plot sounded so interesting and I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of the mystery.... Only it turns out I could wait. While the plot was interesting, it dragged on to the point where I began to lose interest. It was slow moving and it felt empty somehow. I didn't feel any connection to any of the characters. They felt hollow in most cases, boring in others or just plain unlikable. The ending was also disappointing as it felt like a quick fix that limited Peter's growth as a character. All in all, a rather forgettable book.
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)
Although it's certainly a valid trick that can occasionally be put to very good use (Memento comes to mind, for example), genre authors need to be very careful when when deploying the "selective amnesia" trope within their fantastical stories; because when done wrong, you get something like Will McIntosh's disappointing science-fiction novel Faller, whose logic often feels like the author just flat-out confessing, "For the purposes of my badly constructed plot I just happened to need this character to forget this random thing at this particular random moment, which is why they did; then for the purposes of my badly constructed plot I just happened to need this other character to remember this other random thing at this particular random moment, which is why they did." That always feels like a cop-out because it always is, an internal logic that makes no sense merely because the author is trying to hide a weak storyline; in this case, a story that begins with a big chunk of Manhattan floating in space and the people on it having no recollection of who they are or why they're there, but who for some inexplicable reason do remember that violent gangs string up their enemies on telephone poles as a way of intimidating everyone who's left, which is exactly what the violent gangs start doing the moment this chunk of New York starts running out of food.
The whole novel is like this, full of lazy moments of random remembrances and forgetfulness based on what McIntosh needs to have happen on that particular page of the story: humanity has apparently completely forgotten the very concept of English proper names, yet remembers enough about English to assign themselves poetically symbolic names like "Clue" and "Orchid" and "Steel;" humanity has forgotten what cars and planes are, but seemingly remember every single stereotype about small-town rural people being conservatively superstitious and their children plaintively playing hopscotch on the sidewalk with chalk like something out of a bad alt-country song. That makes it even more of a disappointment, then, when the cause of the planet-busting and mass amnesia is finally revealed and it turns out to be a trendy explanation that anyone even vaguely familiar with particle colliders can already guess; and this doesn't even take into account the pre-explosion situation McIntosh invents to get our players all into a place where they're taking such desperate measures in the first place, one whose details defy any and all believability whatsoever (including a ground war in which enemy combatants have invaded California yet not a single nuclear weapon has been used in retaliation; a global conflict that has left tens of millions dead over a final grab for the planet's last fossil fuels, yet with not even a single word said about the current state of solar, water and wind power; and a world in which a coalition of barely functioning third-world nations like Russia and North Korea can somehow completely overpower the endlessly vast and all-powerful US military complex).
The whole thing feels like a case of McIntosh getting one great image in his head one day (and to be fair, the image of a hollowed-out Midtown Manhattan free-floating in the sky is a great image), but then never seeming able to dream up 60,000 words of credible three-act story to wrap around that central image, which unfortunately is the case with way more science-fiction novels than any of us genre fans care to admit. It's getting a minimally decent score for at least being well-written and a fast read, although with a plot that only the most undiscerning hardcore SF fan could love.
I really liked this one. The concept is extraordinary. The main character wakes up on a chunk of New York City that just stops at the edges, as if the rest of the world has just fallen away. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there, and neither does anybody else. As far as he knows, these few city blocks is the whole world. At first everyone is healthy and well-fed, though confused. Of course, the food can't last...
That story is interleaved, chapter by chapter, with another story with a unique and inventive concept of its own, about a scientist with a remarkable quantum invention that may save the world from war and hunger. Populated with some fascinating characters, this storyline features some tough and painful choices where ethics and love seem to collide.
It's a great way to tell a story, switching back and forth between a crazy, impossible scenario and the backstory that explains how things got to be that way. Its themes and ideas and storytelling style also reminded me a lot of Superposition and Supersymmetry! So, if you like my books, there's a good chance you'll like this one, too.
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi thriller eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
I have loved this author's work ever since I read love minus eighty and have gobbled up all of his novels but one.
Side note: Get me hands on soft apocalypse!
So I was thrilled to read this one. It was extremely fun. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where people wake up on Day One with no memories of who they are or even where they are. Terrifying concept. Most people are just struggling to survive. One man, Faller, wants more. He wants answers.
So with just three clues in his pockets, Faller sets out on an adventure.
And what an odd adventure. This book splits into sections about the present that Faller is experiencing and the past of how the world became what it is. Personally, the present sections were the most fun. The past sections didn't bore me but I always wanted to rush through to get back to Faller.
As usual, many of the physics concepts went over me head as physics is want to do. And, as usual, I loved the consequences of those physics principals. The world building was certainly unique. I don't believe I would ever want to live in a world like it. I am glad I could read about it though.
While Faller was definitely me favorite character, I also very much enjoyed side characters like Storm and One-Thirty-One. For me the only downsides of this novel were that not all questions are answered even though many of the pieces tied together nicely. And the ending! I didn't hate all of it and I didn't love all of it. It was just different.
It was certainly a fast read and I am glad I read it. I will read the next book he writes, too. If ye have never read a book by this author, I would start with a different one because I do not think this is the best introduction to his work. Though I do believe if ye haven't read anything by this author, ye should pick one of his books up.
Additional side note: On release day, Mr. McIntosh had this fun fact on his blog about the novel:
"FALLER is based on a dream, and not just any dream, but the dream that kicked off my entire writing career. When I dreamed what became FALLER the dream was so vivid, and felt so much like a science fiction story, that I decided to try writing it down. It was the first SF story I ever wrote, and set me on a path that eventually led me to resign my tenured position as a psychology professor to write full time.
If you decide to give FALLER a try, I hope you enjoy it."
I'm a big fan of McIntosh and have read all but one of his non-YA books, so he's definitely a Must Read for me. I have to say, I don't think this one is his best (I think that title is still safely held by Love Minus Eighty, if you're wondering). I liked how the story was told in tandem (with Faller, awaking after some apocalyptic event where everyone's memories have been summarily wiped and the world broken up into seemingly floating islands in the atmosphere & the past thread centering on Peter Sandoval & other scientific researchers having made a seminal breakthrough) but the science was a bit... thin in explanation so I felt this was skirting more the fantasy category. I'm not the biggest fantasy fan so that likely explains my reticence here. To be clear, I didn't need this to go hard scifi but this needed a bit more firming up for the central characters to be so steeped in physics. Still, this was full of interesting ideas and imagery and that's something I definitely think McIntosh excelled at. There are quite a few things that will remain with me for a bit so this wasn't a wasted read in any way.
I'd recommend this but not as your entry to McIntosh's books (try Defenders or Love Minus Eighty). It's a quick read and not a bad weekend book.
3.4 An interesting book with a neat concept, I only wish it had had more "umpf" to it. I don't know which part seemed to have lacked for me because I did like the book. -Maybe it was a lack of delving into the science aspect or the action moments or character developments? These points weren't done badly, I think it's just that I would've liked to have seen some part made to be the main focus point for the story. •I will say however, that the book felt solid in: the author had an idea, molded it over and made it how he planned it out. The story felt solid in its Beginning, Middle & End motion.
Faller awakens alongside thousands of others on a 6 x 10 mile stretch of city floating in the sky. Nobody knows how they got there, or who they are, or what came before; this is the entirety of the known world, although paintings and pictures of strange places and animals hint that there may be more out there somewhere. Faller finds three things in his pockets: --a photo of himself with a woman --a toy soldier with a working parachute --and a puzzling map drawn in his own blood.
It's a hell of a hook and the author unspools progress at a satisfying clip.
The characters are thinly drawn and not very likeable; I found it hard to care what happened to them (and when the POV character is told that he's hard to get to know, I couldn't help wondering if the author was masking a known failing.) The compelling mystery culminates in a dumb, hurried, 80s-action-hero ending. Disappointing enough that I shaved off a star.
So if I’m reading pure fantasy, especially young adult fantasy, I’m willing to suspend some disbelief. Even in science fiction that deals with science, I’m relatively lenient – but “Faller” (Tor, $25.99, 352 pages) goes way too far over the line.
Will McIntosh begins with a great premise: People suddenly “awake” with no memories and can’t read. They know the names of things and can talk, but they can’t operate the present-day machinery that’s still around them, and they’re stuck on small pieces of what used to be a major American city.
By “small pieces,” I mean just that: a few square miles horizontally and not close to that vertically. But the sun still rises and sets, and even though food runs out, there’s apparently plenty of water – though there’s no reason for it except that otherwise everyone would die.
I was reluctantly going along with the anomalies up to this point, but then things got even more fanciful. For example, the main character (well, sort of, as there are a lot of him) falls through the sky for four straight days, which works out to about 11,500 miles. Then, he manages to land directly on another small piece of 21st century America, which would lead one to believe that there was a very limited set of possible destinations – except for the fact that many others had fallen before and none of them landed on this parcel, dead or alive.
I could go on, but it’s enough to say that by the end of “Faller,” improbability after impossibility had piled on each other to the point that pretty much anything was believable, and therefore nothing was. Even in the slightest of fantasies, that won’t fly, and in a book that supposedly involves high level science and references to quantum mechanics, it’s inexcusable.
Faller is not a bad book it was just not a book for me. It is original and contains some great writing but in the end it was just a little slow for me. I can't really put my finger on what it was that I didn't get on with but Faller left me a little cold.
Nah, I'm not going to file this under science fiction. It's a fantasy, and a sloppy one. I admit I'm curious how McIntosh, always a big-idea guy, came up with this one.
I'm going to take a minority position. I finished this book only because I wanted to see if it could really be as bad as I thought it would be (it was).
So, to the story. All spoiler from here out:
Thanks, yes, I do feel better now. Maybe some water? So lookit, McIntosh is a smart guy. I have to assume he did all this on purpose. A tribute to the Edgar Rice Burroughs era, heck, to Jules Verne. Written with a mental picture of colourful illustrations and busty women in torn blouses, defended by lantern-jawed heroes with stubble and pistols and a lit pipe. And no need to ever explain anything sensibly. If so, applause and four stars.
Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an un-biased review.
What a surprise this book was! I was initially attracted by the cover, but I knew nothing about the author. Shame on me! Mr. McIntosh is a celebrated author of many science fiction books and a Hugo Award winner! In my ignorance I almost passed this book up when I found it on Netgalley, as I said the picture and the premise drew me in.
A man wakes up on an island, floating in the sky. He and everyone around him are unable to remember even the most basic things about themselves. Their names, their family, their friends, or even how this happened is all a mystery to them. In his pocket, the man called Faller finds three items. A photo of himself with a lovely woman, a scrawled picture drawn in blood, and a child’s parachute soldier toy.
From there things get better and better. How did he end up there? Why does he have no memory? What do the items mean? I can’t even start to hint at the reasons because I would be sorry to let the cat out of the bag. This is an excellent book, full of twists and turns and adventure. It also has some very interesting things to say about the society we live in today. It touches on our struggle with finding clean energy sources and international conflicts over resources. It also reflects on the ethics surrounding biochemical weapons and human bio-engineering.
Don’t let the big words scare you. I’m often reluctant to start sci-fi books because I am not confident in my science skills. I am worried that my eyes will start to glaze over and roll into the back of my head while I’m reading a passage about really technical information. It couldn’t happen? It feels like it totally could! Mr. McIntosh does an excellent job of presenting complicated issues in a way that is easy to grasp.
It is a precarious book. It has a sense of danger. Please pick it up. You won’t be sorry. As for me, it is time to start looking into some of his older novels. It’s exciting when you find a new author to follow.
**Full disclosure, I received an egalley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.**
Faller is an interesting novel. The premise is fairly unique. A group of people wake up with their memories blank in a world which has clearly faced some sort of catastrophe. The city in which they find themselves ends abruptly, surrounded by nothing but clear blue sky for as far as the eye can see: above, below, and all around. The novel follows several of these people as they try to figure out how they got to be on this floating city, what happened, and how to fix it.
It sounds like McIntosh had this idea for a while but had a hard time getting it written. I can understand that as its a tricky concept. I've only read one other of Will McIntosh's novels and find that he does have some very interesting ideas so I was excited to give it a chance. I'm glad that I did. This novel could have been a mess, but its not. It's not perfect, but I think the author did a good job of conveying the concept and building characters in what gets to be a bit of a confusing world. His use of two different timelines works well in teasing questions and answers. That said, I definitely enjoyed one of the timelines more than the other. I don't know that there's much I could suggest to change that. I think it's more inherent in the story he was trying to tell. My fear is that elaborating on the other timeline would just make it convoluted and add pages for pages sake.
I can't go into detail without spoiling anything, but there are a couple of scenes a little later in the book that are really incredible. One involving a main character making a seemingly impossible decision is a major standout. The end game has a few fun twists too, and the over all moral/philosophical questions are interesting and thought provoking with out being dry or heavy handed, which is something I think McIntosh excels in.
Faller is an interesting, unique concept with a decent amount of adventure and ideas. It's not perfect but it is a fun, thought provoking adventure set in an environment I hadn't quite experienced before.
This is going to be a tough review to write. That’s not to say that Will McIntosh’s latest novel failed to live up to my expectations — in fact, it was easily one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I’ve had all year — but that so much of the book’s genius relies on knowing as little as possible going into it.
The premise itself is strange and unique: a man with no memory, known only as Faller, parachutes off the edge of the world in search of a woman he believes holds the key to his identity. Alternating chapters introduce us to Peter Sandoval, a renowned physicist whose Nobel Prize-winning research could save the world — or end it. While appearing unrelated at first, these narratives begin to converge as the book progresses, telling the story of how Faller came to exist.
When McIntosh announced that he had started work on Faller back in 2013, he compared the plot an episode of Lost. I realise this is loaded statement for some people, but for a diehard fan of both the ABC series and McIntosh’s books, this sounded almost too good to be true. Now having read it, I agree that the comparison is apt: Faller captures the tantalising weirdness of the early seasons, before the show began to collapse under the weight of its own mythology, ultimately grounding these mysteries with sound explanations that even the most sceptical reader should find satisfying.
Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reading Copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Will McIntosh never disappoints. This is definitely a fun page turner. There's nothing wrong with it and the premise is fun and interesting but, for me, it is missing something critical or interesting that makes me want to rave about it to everyone I meet.