Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Anthropocene Rag” as Want to Read:
Anthropocene Rag
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Anthropocene Rag

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  223 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Anthropocene Rag is "a rare distillation of nanotech, apocalypse, and mythic Americana into a heady psychedelic brew."—Nebula and World Fantasy award-winning author Jeffrey Ford

In the future United States, our own history has faded into myth and traveling across the country means navigating wastelands and ever-changing landscapes.

The country teems with monsters and artific
ebook, 256 pages
Published March 31st 2020 by
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Anthropocene Rag, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Anthropocene Rag

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  223 ratings  ·  56 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Anthropocene Rag
Greg Chatham
Mar 20, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I don't normally provide this caveat because I think reviews should speak for themselves. But I received an advanced review copy of this book, and I eagerly await its publication. I'm sure there will be people who really like it and maybe the Internet can tell me what I'm missing.

At first I thought what I was missing was the rest of the book. I've re-read the last chapter a couple times now, and the book just stops. The characters reach their destination and that's it. I get the idea (AI reachin
William Brownridge
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Arc provided by NetGalley for review.

If The Wizard of Oz and Blade Runner sat around a campfire telling tales, chances are they'd eventually tell you Anthropocene Rag.

A seemingly random group of six people are given golden tickets to Monument City, a mythical creation somewhere in an American landscape that has been devastated by ecological disasters and a mysterious technology that can create and destroy however it sees fit. Led by an A.I. that is starting to have thoughts of its own, the group
*I received a free ARC copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley*

The only reason why I finished this book was because I wanted to be able to honestly say that I read it from beginning to end and didn’t care for it, to know that there wasn’t any twist or redeeming moment at the end that people could point to and say “but you should’ve waited for that!”

There are some books that leave me confused as to what the author was trying to say when they wrote it. “Anthropocene Rag” fits into that
Nicki Markus
Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Anthropocene Rag has proven a difficult book to review, because I am still not sure how I felt about it. Essentially, I loved the premise and the idea of an AI bringing together a group of people, and there were moments of great humour and fun. However, at the end, I was left asking myself what it had all been about. I also found the narrative voice a little off-putting at times. That said, this book did offer something new and different, and the concept behind it was fresh and fun, so I am givi ...more
The Nerd Daily
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray

Dubbed a “nanotech Western,” Alex Irvine’s latest novel is a wild, whirling ride of a read; a wickedly engaging dance through the effects of the human hand on the world around us.

Anthropocene Rag is set in a post-apocalyptic future where nanotechnology has ravaged the United States. Real human beings live alongside creations of artificial intelligence (AI), at times virtually indistinguishable from one another. Nanotech causes landsc
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, uno-2020, arcs
Thanks to NetGalley for a providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book, that in all honesty I thought was going to turn out to be pretty dumb, had me hooked from the first page in a bizarre adventure that I could not put down. This odd little novel manages to be equal parts Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Westworld and Welcome to Night Vale while at the same time being a very distinct work.

The thing I was most concerned with while reading this was the question
Allen Adams

Speculative fiction often offers a glimpse at new beginnings that spring forth from cataclysmic endings. The entire subgenre of dystopian fiction is built largely on the premise. We’re fascinated by the idea of what might rise anew in the aftermath of the collapsing old.

The popularity of that fundamental concept, however, means that the resulting literary work is often wildly variant in terms of quality. Yes, it’s easy to write about the end and what comes
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

This was... bizarre, for lack of a better word. That isn't a bad thing! It's just how it is. As a whole, there were a lot of things I enjoyed about this one, and a few things that left me wanting more (or wanting to understand more, perhaps). So let's break them down!

The Stuff I Liked:

In is unarguably unique. I mean, can I even explain this? It is quite simply like nothing else I hav
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
There's a lot going on in this western mythos infused post-singularity-apocalypse-nanotech-travelogue. And it's all good. Anthropocene Rag, gives a new spin to each of those genres, putting them in a blender to come out with something interesting and unique, and because it's Alexander C. Irvine writing it, it's fun to read too.

After AIs emerge and rewrite America with nanotech, it's as though the inside of our collective heads is now on the outside, walking around in fluid instances from dinosa
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Did we not show you the reverence due a creator? We made ourselves not in your image but in the image of your stories.

This new (? Or new to me) subgenre of nihilistic American dystopias (cf. The Mandibles) is really fascinating. This is the kritik of the US I want to read forever: insightful, cutting, and beautiful.
Alexander Tas
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this and other Sci-Fi/Fantasy book reviews at The Quill to Live

I am always on the lookout for stories about America, especially when it comes to speculative fiction. I find the myths about the United States, its formation, and expansion fascinating especially when they so often cover up many complicated and horrific histories. Its simplicity is enchanting to me and constantly begs deconstruction to find what the true “heart” of the American Story is. This is heightened during an election se
Beth M.
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a wild, weird ride this one was!

I simultaneously want to say 1000 things about this book (but that would spoil the story) and I am also struggling with what to say about it due to my limited understanding of technology.

Described as a “nanotech Western,” Anthropocene Rag is set in a post-apocalyptic future where nanotechnology has ravaged the United States. Real humans live alongside AI, at times virtually indistinguishable from one another. The nanotech causes landscapes to change right bef
Peter Tillman
Mixed reviews, both here and at Amazon. Plus: Ernest Lilley liked it 4-stars worth, and we often agree. Minuses: a LOT of negative or wishy-washy reviews. Wait for the library copy.
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Seriously good. If SF is basically philosophical, this is a prime example of how.
Jeff Cosmi
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
In a word, different. I’m not sure if this was good, I know it wasn’t awful, but I know it wasn’t that good. The story was all sorts of random and nonsensical weirdness. I found myself let down at the end I wanted to know more about their destination, however I suppose it’s about the journey not the destination. Ex-Machinas were used through out but honestly it was just that kind of story.
Kelly Spoer
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a post-apocalyptic, post-singularity Wizard of Oz.
I want to know more about this world so badly.
August Bourré
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Did not hold my interest.
Stephanie Biek
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Stinson
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In general I found this book to be a satisfying read: quick, well written and engaginglt interesting. However, as a work: it feels like it doesn't fully deliver: the plot ends right as you start to get a sense of how the characters might develop. The handling of the AI and nanotechnology is interesting, but not really explored completely. Overall, satisfying as a quick read, but I find myself grasping for more. ...more
Derryl Murphy
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Only issue? I wanted more. But the journey feels like it was the point, and what a journey it was. Fits nicely as a piece with Karl Schoeder's also-excellent Stealing Worlds, and also brought to mind James Patrick Kelly's short story "Mr. Boy," although of course it is very clearly its own thing. ...more
Steve King
Maybe I've just read one too many "literary" books in a row for me to get what's happening here in Irvine's near-future semi-apocalyptic travelogue called Anthropocene Rag.

The setting is an ill-defined (probably purposely so) future in which nano-technology has gone through some sort of critical mass event and generally taken over large parts of United States in the form of constructs, AIs and other machine intelligence collectively known as The Boom. As the story progresses, a narrator sits in
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

I’m still trying to figure out what I just read. But then, I was trying to figure that out while I was reading it, and not coming up with terribly coherent answers.

The closest that I can come is that this is a “road” story, much in the same way that American Gods is a road story. But instead of the world’s mythology holding it all together, in Anthropocene Rag what’s holding the world together – for extremely loose definitions of together – is an amalgamati
May 18, 2020 rated it liked it
'Anthropocene Rag' by Alexander C. Irvine is a fascinating commentary on technology and the fables that shape our society. It paints a view of an America that has been taken over by nanotechnology that is obsessed with the folklore and past history of the country. This technology, called the Boom, fashions and refashions the world so that one moment you're standing beside Paul Bunyan and the next you're watching the history of a city's industrial district building itself from the ground up. T
Hannah L
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Review of Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine

This novella is described, right on the cover, as being part Willy Wonka and part Huckleberry Finn, and let me say, that description is exceedingly accurate. It’s a description that, at face value, I feel like I should enjoy, but ultimately this sci-fi dystopian novella about magical realism and robots left me wanting more.

About 90% of the novella follows six people from across America as they make their way to a city in the Rockies that has become
Bonnie McDaniel
This is one weird little book. It takes place about the end of this century, I believe, and has a post climate change setting of an America turned upside down by invasive nanotech. This is the "grey goo" variety that can deconstruct DNA and organic bodies down in an instant and remake it. The "replicators," plicks for short, have formed a hive-mind sentience. We gradually learn over the course of this book that the seemingly omniscient narrator is in fact this sentience, known as the Boom. The B ...more
Tim Hicks
Apr 24, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is hard to review. I'm trying to imagine Irvine's thought process and its sequence. Did he start with "how would an emergent AI think?" and then realize that Martha Wells and Ann Leckie OWN that space, so we move on to "what if the emergent AI were in a world where nano-replicators are getting out of hand?" which is good. We need a McGuffin, so we get Monument City, which is actually explained a little bit. Now what? Hm, I guess it'll have to be a Quest.

The quest is going to need several p
This book is an absolute trip.

I should preface my comments here with the reminder that I'm Australian. While cultural imperialism means I have a better knowledge of American culture than is probably appropriate, I don't know all the ins and outs of American myth: I have heard of Paul Bunyan and Babe, for instance, but I have zero knowledge of their context, or what purpose they served, and so on. There is undoubtedly nuance that I missed, here, as a result; clever puns or narrative twists that
Chris Branch
Apr 03, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Eh. Although Irvine's A Scattering of Jades remains one of my favorite books, I have to resign myself to the fact that the style of that book is not typical for him. He's clearly more interested in the experimental and the surreal, and this book has plenty of that. There's the literary and historical allusions, the poetic language, the evocative imagery, and even some thoughtful concepts, but the story, such as it is, is not much more than a roughly sketched background and a skeleton of a plot. ...more
Dan Trefethen
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Alex Irvine writes stories of quirky, usually flawed characters, immersed in some kind of fantastical situation that they must work through. In this case it's a set of six people from around the country who are given a golden ticket (yes, Wonka is name-checked) to visit the mystical Monument City in the Rocky Mountains. The Macguffin in this book is that the country has been transformed by nanotechnology, and it's hard to tell what is organic and what is a nano construct.

The overall narrator is
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Hearts of Oak
  • Real Life
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
  • Providence
  • A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)
  • The Ghost at the Table
  • Architects of Memory (The Memory War, #1)
  • 88 Names
  • Leadership: In Turbulent Times
  • Goldilocks
  • The Builders
  • Domnall and the Borrowed Child
  • Would Like to Meet
  • The Hook (Iron Seas, #0.6)
  • Rolling in the Deep (Rolling in the Deep, #0.5)
  • The Ragwitch
  • Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories (Abhorsen, #3.5)
  • The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2)
See similar books…
Alexander C. Irvine is an American fantasist and science fiction writer. He also writes under the pseudonym Alex Irvine. He first gained attention with his novel A Scattering of Jades and the stories that would form the collection Unintended Consequences. He has also published the Grail quest novel One King, One Soldier, and the World War II-era historical fantasy The Narrows.

In addition to his or

News & Interviews

Believe it or not, we're halfway through 2021! As is our tradition, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial team burrows into our data to...
110 likes · 80 comments