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Fairyland

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,034 ratings  ·  76 reviews
In the next century, an underground chemist meets and becomes obsessed with Milena, a child genius who is the ultimate product of gene-splicing technology. Milena is an advocate of the dolls--artificial constructs that have replaced extinct companion animals. Milena wishes to free the dolls from bondage--but in doing so, she creates an autonomous race that may be a threat ...more
Paperback, 420 pages
Published August 1st 1997 by Eos (first published 1995)
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Warwick
A dark, immersive biopunk epic which is very close to being a top-tier achievement – and yet somehow, in the final third, it just kept slipping away from me faster and faster, until by the end I no longer had any firm grip on who half the characters were, or what exactly had happened to them, or why. Whether that's the book's fault or mine I'm not quite sure.

The setting is a nearish-future Europe of scientific advance and social decay, in which nanotechnology is as prominent a feature as conflic
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Adam
Jul 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Mcauley offers up a slice of what could be called biopunk treading similar ground to Difilippo’s Ribofunk, but definitely punk as opposed to funky from characters quoting Talking Heads (the appropriate “Life during Wartime”) and listening to Bad Brains, to the despairing and nihilistic tone. A near future revolution of manufactured dolls like Calder’s Dead Trilogy or Rucker’s ‘ware trilogy but with the intense characters, muscular realism, and realpolitik of Lucius Shepard. A great stylistic ran ...more
John
A Memorable Post-Cyberpunk Novel Set in a Wasted, Near Future Europe

“Fairyland” remains one of the most impressive works in post-cyberpunk fiction, conjuring a nightmarish vision of a near future Europe in which biotechnology has run amok, creating new species of humans designed for pleasure and violent sport. Paul J. McAuley’s novel is a fast-paced thriller reminiscent of William Gibson and John Shirley’s early cyberpunk novels in its pacing. Succumbing to the charm and vision of a megalomaniac
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Edward Davies
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such an odd world that McAuley has created yet, as someone who was born and raised in London, it is oddly familiar too. Slightly reminiscent of the works of both Philip K Dick and Isaac Asimov through its use of robots as a metaphor for humanity, this story tells the history of how robotic slaves called Dolls rise up against their masters and create their own species, the fairies. This is both funny and dark, and manages to make feel real a story that is otherwise pure fantasy.
Althea Ann
Fits firmly into the cyberpunk genre, with hints of Neal Stephenson influence.... However, I didn't really enjoy the 'feeling' of the book. I liked McAuley's Confluence trilogy much more than this novel.
Gray
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
“The man runs in a desperate zig-zag scramble, waving his arms as if trying to swat something. People scatter – they know what’s about to happen. The man has been targeted by a hornet, a small, self-powered micro-missile guided by scent to a specific target.” (p.267)


Paul McAuley’s 1995 novel Fairyland had been on my radar for a while until a laudatory tweet by author Adam Roberts convinced me to buy a copy. It is the 150th title to join Gollancz’s SF Masterworks collection. It was also the first
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Sandy Morley
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
On an elemental level this is hard science fiction, as billed, replete with detailed explanations of atomic biology that seem to do more for the author than the book he writes. Reading it, though, it feels a lot more in the vein of Thomas Harris and his Red Dragon than anything in my admittedly limited collection of sci-fi. A wholly imperfect man (okay, Paul, you don't need to mention his weight every time he meets a new character) who is both out of his depth and in possession of an incredibly ...more
Lois
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to rate this book four stars purely because of the impressive scope and dazzling imagination of it, even though I probably only enjoyed it to a three-star degree. I'm not sure exactly why that is; I just found it a bit of a slog, particularly in the first two parts. I suppose it took me that long to figure out what was really going on—what the book was trying to do—and that made it difficult. I think it was also made a little difficult by the somewhat underdeveloped settings. The world as ...more
The Final Song ❀
Fat Englishman meme hacker riding a tiny mammoth saves a race of korean bio engineered blue sex slaves from a little girl that gave them consciousness and then turned itself into a construct living in the vastness of the Net.

i mean the first two parts are really interesting with the biopunk ideas (using virus as drugs and to "hack" people minds) but the last part felt like there was not a good way to bring all together to a conclusion.
Nicolas
Les romans de McAuley sont toujours assez indescriptibles. Celui-ci, toutefois, est assez clair.
Enfin, assez clair, assz clair, faut voir ...
Donc, ce roman se situe dans un futur proche, mais indéterminé. Le climat s'est suffisamment réchauffé pour faire de Londres une capitale au climat tropical, et des carpathes (où se finit le roman) une forêt subtropicale. Le progrès s'est comme d'habitude orienté dans des directions curieuses, qui cette fois-ci semblent être les biothechnologies dans leur e
...more
William
Remember, this book was first published in 1995.

The first third of the book is great fun, full of a compelling and frightening near-future London. Given this was written in 1994-1995, it's an amazingly accurate dystopian conception. Alex is an interesting quasi-hero, and the accelerated divide between rich and poor is clearly shown.

A global climate disaster has already occurred as the story begins, horrific in its implications. The war between rich and poor, corporations and workers, is nicely i
...more
Paul Westwood
Nov 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
I really liked this book when I first started it but there were a few things that I struggled with later on. Initially it came across as a less extreme form of cyberpunk than William Gibson's but then the description of the futuristic nanobotery became a little too complex. Some of these concepts were interesting but I got lost in the details. I realise that it's supposed to be like this to a certain extent but it was a little too much, like showing off.
I was ok with the present tense narration
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Steve Grandpre
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
By far, the best cyberpunk book I've ever read. It explores the deep implications of the technology of its world, as every good sci fi book should. The tone is dark and a tad noir, and every mystery reveals deeper forces at work.

The main character starts of creating drugs out of custom crafted viruses that deliver tailored psychoactive effects. As time passes, customized viruses are obsoleted by programmed nanobots that interact with the brain on a molecular level. The technology is so accessib
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Alissa Thorne
The dyspepsia world of Fairyland is vivid in its filth and brutality. The technology introduced makes for compelling mechanics, and they build upon and play off of one another.

Sound like a great (albeit, unpleasant) book? Well, it was for the first two thirds. The book was broken up into three independent stories. The switch from "book" one to two felt like it added a lot of depth to the world, and that the main character grew and changed a lot. By contrast, the switch from two to three felt fr
...more
Marc
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thrilling dystopian exploration of possibilities of technology and genetic engineering, lush with myth and metaphor, and with a humane heart.
Bryan
Tough going, without much reward. A dark, dystopian future of genetic engineering gone mad. Sone great sequences in occasional bursts, but overall leaves too much unexplained.
Raj
Alex Sharkey lives by his wits as he develops drugs only just inside the law, drugs based on genetics. When he falls in with Milena, a girl who seems to know too much, they hatch a plan to liberate the genetically engineered 'dolls' that do so much manual labour in the early 21st century. This book follows the consequences of that fateful decision.

I must confess that I'm not really that fond of cyberpunk, so didn't hugely get into this book. It was that sort of tarnished chrome near-future stuff
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Greg
I’m not sure what to make of this novel. It is wonderfully evoked and challenging. I found myself unengaged. It is a cyber/biopunk novel set in a greatly unraveled Europe. What to make of these things?

The novel reads a bit like a conspiracy theory/mystery. A very smart drug maker is compelled into a string of violence by a hyper-brilliant young girl. She is a mastermind, and created herself, and seems bent on bending the future of the world to her creation. The man, Alex, spends the rest of the
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Daniel Lawson
Sep 24, 2018 rated it liked it
So in the near future, nanotechnology allows the manipulation of biology to create new forms of life. Humans naturally use them for their own purpose but the fairies become free, and they want a very different world. 


Its a very interesting idea, and well told on some level. There is a complex story arc that combines the history of the fairies with the tale the author wants to tell. The fairies are definitely interesting and how they can fulfil the fairytale version of themselves is clever. 


Unfor
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Josie
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This was not an easy read.
The protagonist, Alex Sharkey, is not that likeable a character. He is a bio-chemical hacker, a creator of future drugs delivered in virus form.

The future has blue dolls, fembots, lots of grit, dirt and disease.
Well worth a read - Maybe my rating is a little harsh. I liked it more after I’d finished it, and I had some perspective on the full story. Honestly, at times it was a slog.

This was written in 1995, and now over 20 years later, some parts are pretty near the mark
...more
Alex
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
The ideas in this book are pretty amazing, of a future where genetically engineered "dolls" used as slaves acquire consciousness and become "fairies". Many of the themes have relevance to our modern culture, with connectivity with others through the internet having the highest value. McAuley preempts this theme with the existence of a "web", and how large sectors of the population have withdrawn from their real lives to reside within it.
Laura Pope
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fairydust

A sprawling wonderful scary read. McAuley spins a deep web with really great characters and drags you into a weirdly recognizable future.
There is a theme running through McAuleys books. Gaia, environment, AI, biology, Genentech, evolution.
He us one smart, complicated author.It's a pleasure to read his book even if it is a frightening futurethat he looks into.
Tesseract
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Stiff and crude writing with impersonal and distant characters; couldn't force myself to like any of them.

On the bright side, I enjoyed some of the science-y narrative (I'd say that was the most pleasant part, really). Nonetheless, it's not enough a justification to finish it up (I'm towards the end of Part I).
Elanor
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reading-next
Gritty, dirty book that's absolutely stood the test of time. An unexpected and perfect ending. Really enjoyed how the high technology still retained those elements of the fae we're familiar with, subtly done.

I had it on a mix of audio/book and loved it. I badly want to see it made into a movie.
Maura Heaphy
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
The first third is excellent: a dystopian view of a future London that, given that it was written in the mid-90s, is startlingly prescient.

However, with Section 2, McAuley shifts tone and perspective in such a way that all of the good-will he has generated with his clever world-building is lost.
Sweemeng Ng
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
read this long time back. The world is very deep, also first book I known that describe biohacking.
Harry Allard
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Absolutely batshit
Shane
May 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Really liked the first third, but lost interest with the time skip/perspective change. It got more interesting again and had lots of cool ideas, but I couldn't get reinvested in it.
Mr M J Peacock
Aug 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Awful. Didn’t understand huge sections of this book. Don’t know why is has won awards. Trying to be too clever. Now I know why I don’t read SF. Back to readable Non-Fiction for me.
Titania Remakes the World
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
far out and cool. Psychoactive viral warfare, nanites, genetic manipulation, examining the nature of slavery, very exciting.
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fairyland: good or excellent? 1 6 Nov 29, 2009 01:24AM  
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“I didn’t know this kind of shit was about to happen,’ Katrina hisses. ‘This fucker has suckered us in and sold us out. For the second time.’ Katrina lapses into this kind of tough guy dialogue when she’s stressed – she learned English from virtual shoot-’em-ups. Firelight flatters her face. She looks young and fierce and alert, a warrior-princess from the sagas in a black leather jacket, buckled biker boots and black leggings. All she lacks are mirrorshades.” 0 likes
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