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Dark Constellations

3.03  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Argentinian Pola Oloixarac's novel investigates humanity’s quest for knowledge and control, hurtling from the 19th century mania for scientific classification to present-day mass surveillance and the next steps in human evolution.

Canary Islands, 1882: Caught in the 19th-century wave of scientific classification, explorer and plant biologist Niklas Bruunis researches
Kindle Edition, 216 pages
Published April 16th 2019 by Soho Press (first published June 2015)
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Average rating 3.03  · 
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 ·  291 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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May 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't get a lot out of this one. Strange and an okay read. It's a mix of lost-world and techno sci-fi. The story is disjointed, but it's more odd than unpleasant.

Dark Constellations Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Pola Oloixarac (Author), Roy Kesey - translator (Author), Justine Eyre (Narrator), a division of Recorded Books HighBridge (Publisher)

Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-for-fun
This is exactly my kind of book tbh. I'd say read if you enjoyed "2666" and "Cloud Atlas." It swings between cyberpunk near future and darkly sexual magical realism 1880s and it's a wild ride for 215 or so pages. Alternately, it's a lost world biotech parable about exploitation. Either way it would be well at home on the syllabus for my senior English seminar on the seven deadly sins.
Mar 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is a difficult review to write because I am not sure where to begin. Before I continue with this review, I would like to add a disclaimer: I don’t think I fully “got” this book. I think I missed something crucial, or maybe I am just in too much of a cultural bubble to have been able to understand. But I did not enjoy this book.

The concept intrigued me. The novel centers around the “quest for knowledge and control.” It covers themes of privacy, mass surveillance, and evolutionary concepts.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Thought it was a good Techy sci fi . It was hard to read and follow so I decided to persevere . It was not worth it. I was hoping the weird floating ideas and scenes would settle out and resolve bit I could not figure out what happened at the end.
I keep falling for these beautiful covers...
Renee // Feminist Book Club Box and Podcast
Dark Constellations is a very different book than what I usually read. I was excited to read outside my comfort zone and grateful for the opportunity to explore literature from Latin America. Pola Oloixarac hails from Argentina and the setting of the book is partially in Argentina (as well as the Canary Islands, Brazil, and Patagonia).

The writing style is reminiscent of Haruki Murakami -- surrealist, magical, and at times inelegant. The pace moves at breakneck speed in a narrative style that is
Nov 02, 2019 added it
While reading, I constantly felt like the book was just about to tell me something important, what all this lurid backstory was leading up to. It never really does though. Initially frustrating, eventually I found myself thinking that might be at least part of the point.

The three timelines revolve around researchers of different types, in the modern and near future narratives on computer scientists and geneticists, the past on botanists. The novel gives a hyperbolic version of the promises of
Carlos Anaya Camarillo
The premise is that characters in 3 different timelines will be somehow all connected or affected by the actions of each other.

However, there is nothing that clearly connects them. We start off with Niklas Brunn in 1882 as part of an expedition in search of a plant with hallucinogenic properties. This somehow was supposed to connect to Cassio (like the watch) who gets introduced to us in Buenos Aires in 1983.

Cassio is such a terrible unlikable character. I started to loath Cassio almost
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
So close to being a five, but the timeline was screwed up - middle section went from nineties (learning C and assembler, starting to study) to suddenly WiFi, botnets and microdrones (to make the story make sense), then stepped backwards to having Ninja Turtles and V for Vendetta coexist together with Coke Zero! There were also problems with the translation "numbers theory" and "cellular automatons". Ultimately, though, the ending was sketchy and unresolved - supposedly the virus was biological ...more
Kate Poirier
This isn’t the type of book I usually read. Actually I can’t even tell what kind of book this is. I did enjoy some of the word choices and sentence structures, so the act of reading was pleasant even if I didn’t really understand the story...but with one small quibble: in English, the sub-field of math is called “number theory,” not “numbers theory.”
Mark Schlatter
Jun 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: shreve, new_book_area
I will honestly say I did not get this novel. I thought the prose was colorful and inventive (kudos to the translator!), but the whole thing felt like the background for a story, not a story itself. We get three characters from different time periods that are all connected around concepts of merging, biological dependence, and evolution. But events just transpire with no sense of drive or causality, and the result feels like a plot that existed only to make a philosophical point with splashes of ...more
May 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF. Felt like I was back in college reading theoretical research pieces, which I sometimes enjoy, but not when I'm expecting fiction.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
Code is law, because code determines conduct, but what happens if we start writing code that we’re incapable of reading? Algorithms are like a new adaptive species, a breed that is potentially superior to all others, because they acquire the form of truth very quickly, and blend themselves in with it. They are both the medium and the message, perhaps comparable, in terms of overwhelming power and attributed virtues, to the written word in the Biblical past. They are capable of becoming more and ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
‘What creates space for meaning isn’t the bright dots or the presence of light – for dark constellations, the light is the noise. What matters is the darkness.’

OK, up front honesty: this isn’t generally the kind of book I would read, but I’m also a big fan of world literature and so was keen to read Argentinian author Pola Oloixarac’s second novel. It’s a hard book to pin down; part science fiction, part ‘techno-thriller’, part historical fiction. I’m not totally sure it worked for me, or that I
Alisa Wilhelm
#AlisaReadstheWorld : Argentina

I didn’t enjoy reading this book. There is next to zero dialogue and no traditional plot to speak of. The translation was heavy handed in some areas. It reads like a hallucinogenic dream sequence (I hate dream sequences as a rule across all mediums), jumping frenetically from the microscopic to the cosmic and from the 22nd century to the 18th often in the same sentence.

On top of all that, I listened to this on audio and the narrator absolutely butchers the
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
A sprawling, sci-fi-slash-literary epic, despite being a slim book, which makes it dense with ideas and exposition. I was grabbed by the opening, a team of scientists in the late 1800s exploring an island’s underground cave system, looking for hallucinogenic plants and insects, initiated into indigenous sexual rites. From there it jumps into the future. In fact, it jumps around quite a bit and it’s tough to keep track of where you are. The narrative finally settles on a young hacker genius and, ...more
Oct 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
What I liked most about this book were all the illustrations depicting what the author meant throughout the seemingly typical novellesque-like book. Well, sometimes it appeared that's what they were for, but sometimes it looked like they were just for the sake of beauty. I mean, I think that's what it has to be.

There are Komodo dragons, Chilean abalones, king crabs, mathematical functions and industrial espionage depicted in here. Maybe I should like it better.

But I don't.

I saw what Pola
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book because I’ve heard great things about the author. I thought I would have a bigger connection to it due to my own history with Argentina and Brazil, but unfortunately the plot and the style didn’t capture my attention at all.

Another reviewer mentioned that the three narratives presented are disjointed and I have to agree. Those three POVs are supposed to get intertwined and make sense at the end but they never get there. Also, I didn’t feel a connection with any
Laura Mills
I had really high hopes for this one. I mean, a time-hopping narrative that covers everything from psychedelic plants to tech surveillance in futuristic Latin America? Sign me up. Unfortunately, it didn't really deliver on its premise. I definitely enjoyed parts of this book, and I thought the characters were well drawn, but ultimately, the characters' personalities were the only clear things about this book. Beyond that, it was a lot of strange philosophizing about the nature of viruses, the ...more
William O'Neill
Apr 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
If I could, I would have given this book ZERO stars. There us imagery here that is REPULSIVE (one particularly stands out, where a man is fantasizing about having intercourse with a woman and squeezing worms out of her anus! Seriously?!) The author also jumps freely from past tense to present tense, often on the same page! There us little dialogue here as well. Most of the story is simply told to the reader as if reading a history or text book. Whatever happened to revealing plot points through, ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
I finished reading Pola Oloixarac’s Dark Constellations (translated by Roy Kesey) a few hours ago and I’m still not sure what I read. This work of science fiction blends ideas from cutting edge computer science, botany, virology, anthropology and much more into a whirlwind of ideas. I don’t fault the translator or the author for my lack of comprehension; I am not smart enough to understand this book...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the
Afton Montgomery
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the epitome of everything I love about Argentine literature-- it's dark and grotesque; it's sexual; it's obsessed with interstices and femininity and masculinity. Pola Oloixarac tells three stories, set many decades apart, with this general thesis: the dark spaces between the lights are far more important than what's illuminated. Her "dark constellations"-- those things which are interstitial-- include the area between two individual minds, the space separating human and computer, ...more
André Habet
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was wild. I typically am not into sci-fi that's this centered on the lives of hacker-types, but Oloixarac does something wholly unique with the genre on the level of William Gibson's 'Neuromancer,' referenced in 'Dark Constellations'. I love the ideas regarding the cross-pollination of computer and biological ones, and the main characters are fascinating to read this narrative of European colonization of South America and the explosion of hacker culture in Argentina. Really recommend ...more
Jeff Cohen
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I intentionally seek out books written in other languages sometimes to expand my cultural horizons. There may have been something lost in translation here with this Argentinian loosely sci-fi, past/present/future novel. What was this book about? I’m not sure. The merging of biology and technology through the metaphor of DNA and viruses? There’s a primordial presence/creature that I never really got. Anyway, I would have put this down, but since it was short I skimmed the second half. I didn’t ...more
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Here is a unique and fascinating work coming in translation to us anglophones from the world of Argentine literature. Some of Oloixarac's aesthetic sensibilities are quite unfamiliar, especially her treatments of sex and gender. But her lovecraftian cyberpunk imaginary is worth it all for its distinctive strangeness. This novel is biological and oozing at every opportunity. It is sometimes hard to follow but never dull to read.
Raven Terry
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this one, dark and twisted, complex relationships with sci fi, and sex depicted in what I can only describe as scientific sexiness!!! I had never heard of the author before but the language used is so beautiful, I feel like it would be a grave injustice not to read everything she's written!
Jul 14, 2019 marked it as abandoned-dnf
Abandoned at 12%

I have no idea what I just read, but it did nothing to engage me. The concept of mass servellience and control foisted onto the world via the marriage of DNA and data mining held promise, but the writing didn't appeal to me. It seemed to try too hard to be edgy and experimental. Also, there is a big difference between vivid and lurid.
Laila Brown
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
There was a lot going on in this book in a good way. A high density of ideas and information that make you think and also make you uncomfortable. The writing style (hectic, maximal) reminded me so much of One Hundred Years of Solitude. I look forward to reading her other books.
Dec 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling, hypnotic prose that renders the themes into a wholly engrossing sketch of technology, science, and self determination. Definitely something that the reader will know if they'll love or hate within the first three chapters.
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Pola Oloixarac (Buenos Aires, 13 de septiembre de 1977) es una escritora y traductora argentina. Estudió Filosofía en la Universidad de Buenos Aires y ha publicado artículos sobre arte y tecnología en medios como The Telegraph, The New York Times International, Folha de Sao Paulo, Página 12, Revista Quimera, Etiqueta Negra, Qué Leer, Revista Alfa, América Economía y Brando.
Su primera novela es Las