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An Uncertain Grace

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Some time in the near future, university lecturer Caspar receives a gift from a former student called Liv: a memory stick containing a virtual narrative. Hooked up to a virtual reality bodysuit, he becomes immersed in the experience of their past sexual relationship. But this time it is her experience. What was for him an erotic interlude, resonant with the thrill of seduc ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published August 31st 2017 by Text Publishing (first published February 27th 2017)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  191 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Text Publishing
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australian, fiction
‘An Uncertain Grace imagines a future deeply affected by climate change, where technology and sex collide in new and confronting ways. But at its heart, it is a story about love, intimacy and finding humanity.’
ABC Arts

‘Kneen's adventures in speculative erotica are invariably amusing and playful…In a series of interlinked stories spanning a century from the near present to a post-human future, Kneen explores questions of sex, science and gender…A complex feat of speculative world building.’
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 ★s

“Time. Something odd has happened to it. It has taken on physical form. Time rubs up against me like an invisible film, like Glad Wrap but the whole roll of it goes on and on forever. There is so much plastic wrap stretching out behind me, and in front of me, an age of it. I feel like I am trapped under an invisible film, staring out, perfectly preserved”

An Uncertain Grace is the sixth book by Australian poet, television director and author, Krissy Kneen. It consists of five separate short
This was a very early birthday present from lovely Zoe, and she basically totally hit the mark with it. I had no real idea what to expect and I was just blown away; it's speculative and literary, confronting and uncomfortable, but beautiful too. There are elements of ecological science fiction (cli-fi?), subtly done, but the focus is on the exploration of sexuality; what it is, what it might look like in the future and how humans handle perceived deviance.

It reads less like a novel and more like
Apr 18, 2018 marked it as not-for-me
Sometimes it pays to read the blurb before sitting down to read a book with a nice hot cuppa. I would have needed something a lot stronger to get through this one.

DEFINITELY not for me.
Cass Moriarty
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
An Uncertain Grace (Text Publishing 2017) is the latest novel by Brisbane author Krissy Kneen, and as befitting a work by this most adventurous, intelligent and playful writer, the book was nothing I expected, everything I feared and all I dreamt it would be. Krissy is not afraid to look into the abyss, whatever that personal abyss may be for each of us; she is unafraid of peeling back the thin veneer of respectability and prudence, to poke at our sore bits and titillate our sensitive bits. The ...more
Rating: 4.5

Full review also on my blog Here

Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me the chance to read this.

This story has 5 parts, all connected. In the first part I was very uncomfortable (TW: Rape), in the second I was just confused but then as I read parts 3-5 the story and points to it became clearer. This is a story that I am still processing and thinking about. It's very thought-provoking. It takes on gender, sexuality, body image, sex, aging, and a future with how technology might alter o
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘First person is a very narrow and limiting point of view.’

A five-part novel, with five different narrators. The stories are linked: the last narrator, Liv has a role in each part of the novel. Where to begin? This is erotic literature, and sex is prominent and explicitly described. Each character has a different role, along a spectrum of sexual experience and identity. And it’s that exploration of identity, of the limiting expectations of gender that kept me reading. Caspar, in Part 1, experien
Michael Livingston
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a thought-provoking look at how technology might alter our relationships with our bodies. The five linked stories in this book follow Liv, a pioneer of a kind of immersive, embodied storytelling that evolves over the course of the book into something much more. Kneen is fascinated by the body and by sex, and she explores all the ways that the self and the body are connected and how they might be disconnected. It's fascinating, smart and beautifully written.
Wow. What a novel.
At times ethereal and dreamlike. At times gritty and stomach churning.
I stand by my comparison to Kirsty Logan but now I see a darker side as well.
Experimental and challenging theme of memories from different perspectives. What shapes us? Is our memory true?
Not everyones taste but I enjoyed it. A worth Stella Prize short list book.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
An Uncertain Grace is a bold, unique and thought provoking read. Five short stories set in the not too distant future, we first meet a lecturer who is sent a synthetic suit and hardware to live a memoir of a former flame. The reader follows as he experiences their relationship from her point of view. We also meet a synthetic child, a man connecting with jellyfish, a new treatment for gender fluid people and life once our bodies have worn out.

This most certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea bu
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing

It's been quite a while since I so thoroughly enjoyed a collection of short stories. Considering they are classified as erotic, the detail put to speculative fiction was outstanding. These make the reader completely reconsider sexuality as a whole while taking him on her on enthralling experiences. They are all connected by a common denominator and are chronologically order, taking the reader on a trip where we see the world changing, along with the charac
Jessica Gregory
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
An undeniably challenging and provocative book but unfortunately so overwritten that it smothers some really interesting narratives. Each character is given an unrelenting depth of interiority that grants them a metaphor for every aspect of every minute interaction of their life. In this way, Kneen’s characters feel almost like rehashings of each other.
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After the first part of this book I wasn't really quite sure what I was getting into. It gradually unfolded into beautifully written exploration of sensations, gender, sexuality bit futuristic kinda sci fi like as well. It isn't like anything I have ever read before and I really enjoyed.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is bananas.

I didn’t ‘like’ it but it’s hard not to be impressed by something that is so incredibly creative and thought-provoking.

But before I go on, it should be noted that Krissy Kneen’s An Uncertain Grace comes with a big bunch of trigger warnings (rape, sex crimes against children, treatment of paedophiles).

An Uncertain Grace is a novel in five parts, each story linked by a single character, Liv, at different stages of her life. Over decades, Liv develops ‘virtual narrative’ techno
Provocative, sensual, sensitive, dystopian, uncanny scrutinisings and funny.
I guess you could say I really enjoyed this book and will look out for more works written by this creative author. The book is divided into five parts; Caspar, Ronnie, Cameron, M and Liv. All of whom are personalities but Liv is important to each of the others during different decades of her long life.
I enjoyed the ultimate “what if” sci-fi possibilities that Kneen poses. What is real, what is human, who, when, how and
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adultfiction
This is an utterly exquisite book, a meditation in five voices on sex and power, love, sexuality and gender, technology, ageing and memory and loss, the act of narration itself, and jellyfish. And that last is not a toss-away line; underlying the steady progress of the narrative into our human future where all kinds of so-far almost unimaginable human connections are now possible, are glimpses of a world almost completely denuded of sea life, of nature itself. While each chapter can be more or l ...more
Chris Waterford
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ever since I read this author's amazing memoir "Affection" (5 stars) and her novel "Triptych" (5 stars), I have been a fan of her writing. This book is about imagining where sexual experiences could go in the future. This book consists of 5 different stories pushing the sexual boundaries. I loved the 3rd story (Cameron) and the last (Liv) but didn't care much for the 2nd and 4th. Her work is explicitly sexual and I can enjoy that when she writes as well as she does.
Bronwyn Haines
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An Uncertain Grace is a fresh, smart and wholly compassionate illustration of humans as sexual beings. Kneen uses science fiction to explore the endless variations of sexual expression. She shows the reader how to see all forms of sexual attraction, including pedophilia, with an open and accepting mind, while still strongly objecting to sexual harm. As others have said, this book is about sex, but it isn't really. It's about humans and how we see each other and what is the same in all of us.
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
The thing with books like this, when they are individual stories brought together by a common theme, is that they are really hard to rate. There are 5 stories in this novel. 2 of them get 5 stars. The others get between 2 and 4. Overall the book gets 3.5.
Krissy Kneen writes beautifully, and frankly reminds me of David Mitchell, my all time favourite author. But sometimes i find her material too full on.
Jessica Currie
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fuck me there’s a lot of cunt, cock and cum in this one! What a fascinating speculative read; Kneen takes an idea and stretches it in all kinds of directions and it’s fascinating. Brilliant read.
Jaclyn Crupi
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Kneen mentions Lidia Yuknavitch early on and her influence on this novel is clear - parts of it reminded me of The Small Backs of Children. This is a provocative read and at times quite challenging. Kneen is an inventive writer and her work always takes me to unexpected and disturbing places.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Each chapter follows the same scenario. You get a futuristic idea, some questions to think about and a character without much of a personality who is just showcasing you this futuristic world and has lots of sex.
James Whitmore
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this novel beautifully written, daring, and unsettling. The central character is Liv, although we see her story mainly through other characters. When we first see her she is a writing student, experimenting with new forms of narrative. From this tongue-in-cheek beginning we pitch headfirst into the future. Liv as a student experiments with a kind of VR suit to tell stories, which reproduces all the sensations of someone else's experience. In the first case to show her middle-aged male pr ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
An Uncertain Grace is a novel made up of five stories, told from the perspective of characters whose lives intersect with Liv. Liv, it seems, is a writer who uses new tech to construct and convey narrative. The five stories are quite disparate, but have in common an exploration of embodiment.

In the first, Caspar experiences his relationship with Liv through her eyes and her body, via a VR skin suit. He experiences not just her physical body but her thoughts and emotions, too, and struggles to r
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a shame that this book has so few reviews, but how grateful I am to have discovered this little gem! As a fan of relationship-based science fiction, this novel is right in line with my particular set of interests. Kneen's exploration of the evolution of sexuality as it is affected by future technologies is fantastic in that it feels so realistic and visceral, yet she never crosses the boundary into gratuitous sex or pornography. My favorite of the stories was the first, Caspar, as I found t ...more
Lisa Kenway
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was seduced initially by the sumptuous cover, and then drawn in by the extraordinary writing in this erotic, literary dystopian novella. Structured in five parts, with five point-of-view characters, it reads as distinct stories, linked by the presence of one central character, Liv, and the interwoven themes of sexuality, aging, autonomy, and our impact on the natural world.

Kneen writes with humour and a deft hand to create this intelligent, sexy story. Liv is a writer of fiction in a futuristi
Jul 30, 2017 added it
Shelves: arc, netgalley, dnf
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The first story was unexpectedly different and engaging. It opens with a professor who has a habit of picking up the female students in his class. As he is eyeing a new girl to add to his harem, he receives a package from a former student with whom he had an ongoing relationship many years prior. She's sent him something that she's developed and wants his opinion. What he gets is a suit that he can put on and experience their e
Ian Mond
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Krissy Kneen's An Uncertain Grace is a marvelous book, the sort of marvelous book that deserves the type of in-depth analysis that I don't have time to provide. It's a toss-up between this novel and Jane Rawson's From The Wreck as to which is my favourite book (so far) for the year. While I might struggle to pick between the two, what I do know is that Australian women are currently producing some top-flight science fiction.

The novel is a story-suite (quickly becoming my preferred form of narrat
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Let Krissy Kneen take you far from the comfort of the shore. Trust her. Swim with her. She has something extraordinary to show you.
I was confused, revolted and frightened but also moved, fascinated and startled by this provocative five part exploration of technology, time, ageing, gender and sexuality.
Set in a future Australia where the consequences of climate change are apparent, where gender can be transcended, where the individual becomes plural, where virtual reality suits are used to educ
Susie Anderson
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I started this open to the concept and everything, it kind of grappled with the emerging technologies in a way that made me feel better about the adverse effects I see happening in real time. I became frustrated about not getting to know Liv and I stopped wanting to pick the book up. I also stopped eventually because the author began to write about a koori character and it just... made me sigh massively so I had to put it away. Ultimately I liked the suggestion hope it had for the tech. But mayb ...more
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Krissy Kneen has been shortlisted three times for the Queensland Premier's Literary awards. She is founding member of Eatbooks Inc and is the marketing and promotions officer at Avid Reader bookshop. Find out more about Krissy Kneen at and