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Ra

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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  593 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Magic is real.

Discovered in the 1970s, magic is now a bona fide field of engineering. There's magic in heavy industry and magic in your home. It's what's next after electricity.

Student mage Laura Ferno has designs on the future: her mother died trying to reach space using magic, and Laura wants to succeed where she failed. But first, she has to work out what went
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Kindle Edition, 506 pages
Published December 11th 2018 (first published December 13th 2014)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  593 ratings  ·  54 reviews


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Ben
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
There have been many stories which say they are about defining what magic is and giving it strict rules. All these stories have nothing on this one.

minor spoilers for chapter 4ish on

This is book by a science nerd, for science nerds. It's got heaps and heaps of techno babble, which rather than sounding completely ridiculous (star trek), it sounds like the author has a deep understanding of the way that magical physics works, and how people would use and think about it. The technobabble builds off
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Areign
Mar 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got immediately turned off by the use of aggressive technobabble. I had seen this book recommended because of its well thought out and understandable magic system I found something that is essentially the opposite. In books like WoT you have Nynaeve going 'hmm it feels like i should weave fire just so' and healing someone. In this book we have Laura creating spells using 'heavyweight theoretical results' of Quantum Mechanics and Vector Calculus. The point being, theres no difference between ...more
Pietro
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic ideas in a not-so-great novel.

World-building alone and some of its secrets brought me in a wonderful and terrible voyage full of technobubbles, computer language style magic system and unsettling illusions but redundant style and excess confusion made it a climb too hard to be objectively excellent.
Tomas Sedovic
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I complained that Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality had little scientific exploration of magic even though the protagonist was eager and well equipped to do so, a friend recommended this book. I was not disappointed.

It takes place in a world much like ours except that a new branch of physics was discovered in the 1970s. It was called magic because its practice vaguely resembles the old superstitions (staff, spells in a weird language, bracelets, drawings on the floor, etc.). It is
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Alfredo Amatriain
This novella has made me realize something about myself as a reader: there is a threshold of awesomeness beyond which I stop caring about a story. Ra starts small and personal, lays out the rules of an intriguing world (magic treated as real-world engineering, how cool is that?) and lets us know the main character, an interesting brilliant but damaged girl. But about halfway the story starts trying too hard to surpass itself in scale and grandioseness, going so over the top that it totally ...more
Maciej Konieczny
Coherent and packed with action. Will read again.
Ed
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book's concept is fascinating but held back by jumping around without helping the reader follow, confusing narrative at times, and over-reliance on jargon. It also didn't help that I disliked one of the PoV characters.

Also, I feel like the blurb describing the book is incorrect.
Will
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent “Magic is real and we are all fucked” progression.
Jordan Blanch
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cool as heck

I got halfway through the authors Web serial before I ran out of content and forgot about it years ago.

After an afternoon trying my best to remember what it was called, I found it again to discover that it was finished and published. Didn't even think twice about the purchase, and the last half of Ra is fucking amazing.

Sam you gone done good.
Jovan Dragisic
Probably the best SF I've ever read. I mean, the novel starts off with the premise that magic was discovered in the 70's and it's a normal scientific field. The protagonist is a mage who has the feeling that there is more to the whole thing. Seems like your run of the mill SF fantasy kind of thing, but as soon as you get lulled into this sense of false security, the author spins it in ways you find hard to imagine.

You get pretty much everything, near omnipotent AIs, people living inside the
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Phani Raj
The premise is very interesting in the way that I have never came across book which doesn't consider magic as just some mystic force, but as something which can be studied/researched/engineered methodologically as if it's some branch of science/engineering.

The story is amazing and would deserve 5 stars. But there are places when the writing wasn't clear and so only 4 stars.
Yuri Karabatov
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit over-the-top by the end, but I'm a sucker for technomagic.
Callie
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating world.

I like the characters.

Let down a little in the end, he may have written himself into a corner, earlier on.

I stick with the 5 stars though.
Efreak
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This deserves to be published.
belshikun
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aki-o
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worlds-i-like
I re-read this book after discovering it's on google Play Books, actually published! I first read it around the time it was being first published on qntm.org.

Uh, what to say about it? I forgot how it ended. Now I remember...

You might be thinking that this book will be about Laura's journey to discover her mother's secrets, and to resurrect/rescue her. This journey certainly happens. It just doesn't happen where you expect it to.

It was written as a serial, and that shows in the pacing and
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Betawolf

Magic is real, and it's a lot like physics. This is the initial conceit of *Ra*, a mildly interesting item of web fiction with a well-developed notion of how magical energy should work. With the world and several magical mysteries well-established, the story launches into various tangents and intricacies which tie together and explain the system, the central characters playing a sort of pinball to their grand, solar-system encompassing machine.

As it turns out, topics of simulation, recording and
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Nix Gerit
Phew, this one was borderline with "to be abandoned". In the end I was rather curious about the end and suffered through. I liked a lot the idea of the form of magic in this book, based on physics, requiring way more effort than usual magic forms in fictions, it was a scientific and rational approach, which captured my attention. Kudos regarding the idea, it was interesting. Otherwise... Well, characters came as very shallow, not behaving the way I'd expect them to or not having enough basis ...more
Nicolas Knight
A good idea hobbled by severe multiple personality disorder.

The original thought is good, the setting is meant to be low fantasy and starting out.
Then come the other two personalities.

The first one read too many illuminati novels in the early 90's and is trying to strongarm this into a conspiracy novel to keep magic out of the wide world.

The second is enamored with some of the more out there novels from the Cthulhu mythos and tries to crowbar in a dark and dreary dream world with horror creatues
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Lee
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a lot to unpack, and I would not recommend binge-reading this book (shockingly)
I really needed to take my time reading, the pacing sometimes changes drasticly in a space of a sentence, giving your whiplash. It doesn't really wait up for the reader to adjust. The hard-science fiction approach means you need to make sure you understand the rules of the world to really get what's going on, which also takes a bit of time, no rushing ahead.

So it's not easy to just inhale in a couple of
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Anton Hammarstedt
Setting presentation, design and originality (how cool is the setting?): 5
Setting verisimillitude and detail (how much sense does the setting make?): 5
Plot design, presentation and originality (How well-crafted was the plot, in the dramaturgic sense?): 5
Plot and character verisimillitude (How much sense did the plot and motivations make? Did events follow from motivations?): 5
Characterization and character development: 3
Character sympatheticness: 3
Prose: 4
Page turner factor: 4
Mind blown factor:
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Avinash Hindupur
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, that was an exhilarating read! One of those books you can't give a one-dimensional rating. Ra starts off with a fresh and spectacular notion, introducing characters and building the world steadily. By mid-book, I was thinking if it became too ambitious for its own good. And by the end, I felt there was more to the story.

All the pace, suspense, thrill, and action in the plotline and the way it's written would make it a great movie trilogy or TV series! Would love to watch it if and when it
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Kes
May 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2018
This is hard science fantasy - or possibly even hard science fiction. There's a lot of technical jargon going on, a clear underlying system on how magic works, and (view spoiler).

It's good and inventive, but really not my genre.

I did like the ending, with (view spoiler)

2.5/5
Allison
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thomas
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable read. Many twists and turns in the plot, and such layering. Unfortunately that the serialisation caused the latter stages to diverge on a tangent away from the author's aims, looking forward to a future edit.
Stephen
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting take on a classic merging of Scifi and Fantasy. It starts with a somewhat winding and opaque narrative, and keeps a bit of that quality throughout, but ultimately a good if slightly short story.
Finlay
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Physics-based magic, plus Inception, plus... a Unix manual? The original conceit was interesting, but this lost the thread about halfway in. Too long, too disjointed, too much crammed into one storyline. Too bad.
Mars
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of the book is wonderful. Magic exists, and follows fixed rules, and is a hard science.

And then we find out who/what Ra is and things go waaay downhill, very very fast.
Zimran Ahmed
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite mad
Dan Relluchs
I like the start but then it becomes too self-indulgent for me to enjoy. I did finish it and enjoyed the premise and world at the start.
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