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Mockingbird

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  3,688 Ratings  ·  377 Reviews
Mockingbird is a powerful novel of a future world where humans are dying. Those that survive spend their days in a narcotic bliss or choose a quick suicide rather than slow extinction. Humanity's salvation rests with an android who has no desire to live, and a man and a woman who must discover love, hope, and dreams of a world reborn.
Mass Market Paperback, 276 pages
Published April 1981 by Bantam Books (first published 1980)
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GG Mockingbirds are best known for the habit of some species mimicking the sounds of other birds and animals. In dystopian novels the allegory is that…moreMockingbirds are best known for the habit of some species mimicking the sounds of other birds and animals. In dystopian novels the allegory is that rather than a life richly lived life, the life being lived is but an echo of what life could be, should be, or was. A mockery.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
I could tell with in the first few paragraphs of this book I was really going to like it. The story starts with Robert Spofforth, a very special robot, in fact a Make Nine robot, whistling as he walks down the street. Now to me whistling is a very distinctive human trait. I know some birds can be taught to whistle and I'm sure someone has spent numerous hours of their life teaching their dog to whistle, but generally I think humans are the only entity on the planet bad ass enough to actually whi ...more
Apatt
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, pre-80s-sf
“What is it exactly that you do with a book?”
“You read it.”
“Oh,” she said. And then, “What does ‘read’ mean?”
I nodded. Then I began turning the pages of the book I was holding and said, “Some of these markings here represent sounds. And the sounds make words. You look at the marks and sounds come into your mind and, after you practice long enough, they begin to sound like hearing a person talking. Talking—but silently.”


There are quite a few books or reading related quotes in this book, the abo
...more
Brad
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-shelf
I chose not to read this based on an allegorical bent, and instead chose to enjoy the oh so clear voice of the Robot Who Would End Humanity. Of course, he'd do so only because it seems to be the only way to circumvent his programming to live to serve humanity, but them's the breaks, right, humans?

Lol, no, this isn't a biting satire of us like the inestimable Roderick, but it does have some wonderful punches built right in to the text.

First of all, don't let the whole christian reading (or non-r
...more
Frankeeೃ༄
My favorite speculative fiction of all time is Michael Cunningham's Specimen Days which I read back in 2012, while the very first science fiction I read was Aldous Huxley's Brave New World . I read these books only a few months apart and I was forever changed because of them and this change has definitely got me interested to venture on acquiring and experiencing more of what the science fiction genre has to offer as much as I could. Eleven more sci-fi books later, I remained insatiable, more ...more
Emma
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Only the mockingbird sings at the edge of the woods.'
Wow! This blew me away! On a par with Brave New World, an alternative version of future dystopia. What bibliophile wouldn't love a quote like this:

'I feel free and strong. If I were not a reader of books I could not feel this way. Whatever may happen to me, thank God that I can read, that I have truly touched the minds of other men.'

Don't ask. Relax. This is the message the population are programmed to think in this futuristic USA.
The technol
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Sean Gainford
Unfortunately Ends Up Just Being Average

This is the first time that for the first 80 pages of a book I couldn't put it down and then for the rest of the book it ends up being below average. At first it was so interesting, so bizarre. I was fascinated and entranced by this dystopia world and thought I had found another great author. But then it seems the author just ran out of steam. I actually thought to myself that Tevis is sabotaging his work on purpose. The characters started to become boring
...more
Jennifer
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are aspects of this book that terrify me. At least Skynet tried to kill us humans in one fell swoop. This was something different. Slow and insidious. Our doing really in the end. There were some bits about past technology that didn't quite hold up, but all in all it isn't to terribly off the mark. At least in my mind. I have to say at one point I became very anxious (I needed some Sophor to get me through those chapters) And I found myself loathing a character. A few chapters later I felt ...more
Julie Davis
A Good Story is Hard to Find #110. Scott and Julie argue about the meaning of "Only the mockingbird sings at the edge of the woods."

Neighbors tell them to take it to the edge of the woods because it's 2:00 a.m. and "some of us have work in the morning!" They quiet down long enough to discuss Mockingbird.

Reading this the second time was just as good as the first time, if not better.

My original review is below.

================
Only the mockingbird sings at the edge of the woods.
Why have I never hea
...more
Althea Ann
I didn't think I'd ever heard of Tevis, but as it turns out, he wrote 'The Man Who Fell to Earth,' (and, less relevantly, 'The Color of Money.')
I'm also surprised that I never came across this book before, because in many ways, it's right up my alley - and I feel like I would have been even more enthused about it shortly after it was published, than now.
In theme, and some particulars, the book is very reminiscent of 'Brave New World.' Set in a future New York City, a reduced, obedient populace
...more
Bibliophile
Some dystopias seem worse than others. Popping happy-pills and letting robots do the dishes for you doesn't sound terribly upsetting to me, but no books? Nobody knows how to read anymore? The horror! Tevis had me hooked from the start thanks to the importance he attaches to the written word. The people of the future have put their lives in the hands of robots in order to pursue worldly pleasures, to the point where nobody remembers how to perform the simplest tasks. They spend their days drugged ...more
Lars Guthrie
Feb 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My work involves learning to read, so I watch children as they learn to read, and myself read about learning to read. In a dense but delightful, and short but important book on child psychology called 'Children's Minds,' Margaret Donaldson writes, 'So what makes us stop and think about our thinking—and thus makes us able to choose to direct our thinking in one way rather than another? We cannot expect to find any simple answer to such a momentous question—but…learning to read may have a highly s ...more
Ajeje Brazov
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una lettura davvero splendida, una storia che mi ha dato e fatto vivere emozioni e sensazioni che raramente ho provato con altri libri.
Ovviamente un paragone con i mostri sacri, con i capisaldi del genere distopico è d'obbligo.
Partendo da "Noi" di Zamjatìn, ho trovato affine la poetica in alcuni passaggi. Con "Il mondo nuovo" di Huxley invece ho trovato la stessa oppressiva e catastrofica ossessione per la tecnologia. Con "1984" di Orwell c'è la formula a diario della narrazione e conseguenti e
...more
Nelson Zagalo
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, literature
Uma das melhores fábulas de ficção-científica que já li. Quando deixamos de ler, o que acontece ao mundo que nos rodeia? Quando deixamos de escrever, o que nos acontece enquanto pessoas? Uma distopia que coloca em cena respostas a estas perguntas, a partir de uma sociedade tecnologicamente evoluída na qual os humanos deixaram as responsabilidades às costas dos robôs. Uma fábula que tem tanto de instigante como de pungente. Quando se questiona o valor da escrita e da leitura, acaba-se por questio ...more
Carmine
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La meccanica dell'Io interiore

L'uomo si è sempre contraddistinto nel cercare di trasmettere qualcosa di sé nelle sue creazioni, forse nello stupido e disperato tentativo di giocare a fare Dio.
Ogni decorso morale, spirituale e, infine, autodistruttivo viene accelerato dall'esasperazione tecnologica, imperscrutabile custode di un mondo con la data di scadenza, forse ancora vivo solo per un bulimico accanimento terapeutico da farmaci calmanti e scalette preconfezionate di azioni abitudinarie da r
...more
Yarb
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: your-library
Perhaps I'm losing my taste for dystopias, at least the futuristic kind. Reading the gushing reviews all over the internet makes me feel almost as isolated from society as the inhabitants of Tevis's moribund 25th century USA.[return][return]The big idea is that after the standard technological misadventures - WWIII, fallout, mass-death, global government - humankind has come to eschew all interaction and individual expression, with people retreating into their inner worlds while being fed, cloth ...more
Anna
Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scifi, dystopia
This past week I’ve had two guests staying while also working full time, which really cut into my reading time. Nonetheless, I made it through ‘Mockingbird’, an interesting science fiction curiosity from 1980. 451 years in the future, the few humans that remain are served by robots, high on drugs, and wholly estranged from one another. The world-building has a nice sense of the bleakly absurd, studded as it is with malfunctioning closed-loop toaster factories, contraceptive valium, and ‘thought ...more
Simon
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-masterworks, sf
A dystopian future awaits us although in this case, not one that was thrust upon us, but rather one in which we have carelessly walked into. Our relentless drive towards automating everything, our pursuit of pleasure and rugged individualism has led to a society in which we are run by robots and humans have become hopelessly uneducated, permanently drugged out of their minds and are losing the will to live.

Now things are falling apart. No one knows how to read anymore or how anything works, most
...more
David
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Questions for book club discussion (mostly unasked):

- Was Walter Tevis a giant Republican?

- Quick sex, is it really best?

- Your choice: monkey bacon, pork bacon, or something from the sandwich machine at the zoo?

- Is "Biff" an appropriate name for a female cat, even in a terrifying dystopia where nobody can read?
Jacob
This was originally published in 1980, but I think it holds up amazingly well. One of the key reasons is the author built the story on a premise of people interacting less and less with each other and more with machines, with drugs, and with simply amusing themselves. The tendency to privacy, lack of relationship development, and shirking responsibility is taken to an extreme here but it addresses trends that have still been happening for the last 35 years since Mockingbird was published.

The set
...more
Rose
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was torn between three and four stars but I think I would have liked this more if it didn’t remind me of so many other books I’ve already read but this was written almost 40 years ago so I can’t fault Mockingbird for me not reading it before the others.

Mockingbird is a dystopian future where we have created robots to do most of our tasks so that we could relax and be more introspective. Like pretty much everything else, we take this to the extreme. Drugs are given out to everyone to relax. You
...more
Monica
Borrowed from the Amazon Lending Library. What I had hoped to find was an unsung classic SF novel. What I got was a heavy handed dystopian fairy tale with overwrought proclamations of what it means to be human.

This book had a 70s vibe to it. There's an old saying "70s Scifi is all about hexagons." A bit of a riff off of the old Battlestar Galactica series where all the books had the corners cut off because...it's the future!

This novel reads like that. It's an allegory of the future where the co
...more
Ben Babcock
Many of the most seminal dystopian novels are chilling for the extent to which they depict a “new normal” of human existence. By this I mean that these novels don’t just portray people oppressed or living under the thumb of a ruling class or technologically-imposed social structure—no, the best dystopian novels create a world in which people are happy, or at least satisfied, with the new status quo. Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World , and Fahrenheit 451 all do this to some extent.

Fahrenhe
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Ademption
Feb 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Adults, people who read and liked "The Man Who Fell to Earth"
Mockingbird is an excellent YA novel full of morbid black comedy. A sad robot, a film professor, and a zoo-living, half-feral lady are the only reflective people left on Earth. The other, few million individuals are drugged out or mutely religious. Everyone is sterile. The current fad is to self-immolate in trios down at Burger Chef after a pointless life of quick sex and sleeping pills. Through the last couple, the prof and the wild woman, who meet at the NYC Zoo's Reptile House, mankind comes ...more
Metello
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La vicenda in breve:
un'umanità decadente, dove conta solo la privacy e l'individualità
un super robot (serie 9) solo e conscio della sua umanità incompleta (un mockingbird?)
un uomo che impara a leggere, l'unico e il primo dopo tanti anni
una donna più intelligente e scappata dalla società inebetente.

Un libro che mi ha coinvolto fin da subito, con questi due protagonisti (più la donna, secondaria rispetto agli altri), ognuno con il suo obbiettivo di umanità, uno di completezza, l'altro di riscopert
...more
Joanna
This is a beautiful book, John, and I think I can understand why it was one of your favourites. The combination of the tragic and the humorous, of the pathetic and the absurd, the hopeful and the hopeless is truly compelling.

The way in which the author represented the power of the written word, of poetry, of reading as the way out of soporific loneliness and a direct route to achieving true intellectual and emotional independence as well as a sense of history, community of minds, of being ancho
...more
Kaethe
Mockingbird (Del Rey Impact) - Walter Tevis   The sexism, it burns.
Not a great book. There's the intellectual smugness, a feeling that the vast majority of humanity is Just Not Worth It. Although the author is able to imagine technologic breakthroughs, he can't conceive of a single piece of art worth the name arising in two hundred years, and everything else is just crap. Mostly plastic crap. There are good drugs, and pot is ubiquitous as the smoke of choice, but there isn't a single new good th
...more
Stephen
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'd never heard of Walter Tevis until I read this novel. Mockingbird left me curious of Tevis' background given it reads as a very personal indictment of illiteracy, sloth, drugs and religion. Turns out Mockingbird was Tevis' only foray into science fiction. He is better known for his novels turned into popular films: The Hustler, The Color of Money and the Man Who Fell to Earth.

Mockingbird presents a dystopian future New York where humans have been taught by robots they created to become privat
...more
El
This is my nightmare: a world where the human population is declining (though the android population is thriving), no one can (or even desires to) read, and everyone pops Valium (also designed to help curb fertility) just to get through the day. There's very little human interaction, and what little there manages to be is highly monitored.

That's this story, and it freaked me out, the solitary cat that I am. It unsettled me, which is certainly the point, mission: accomplished. Published in 1980 I
...more
Ryandake
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
what a marvelous little book.

at its core is a question--how many of us would give up the life of the mind, if we had the choice? tevis' answer is, a lot. and however much one is uncomfortable with the thought, one cannot but have a sneaking suspicion that his answer is in fact the correct one.

in tevis' future, robots have taken over all the drudgery of life--making food, toasters, clothes, running sewer systems and city buses and fast food outlets. theoretically this leaves the rest of us to mor
...more
Ubik 2.0
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-e-book
Apocalypse soft!

Un romanzo commovente e malinconico, una distopia che non presenta una fine del mondo violenta e traumatica, un’invasione aliena o una catastrofe ambientale, ma un triste e verosimile declino che richiama certe atmosfere proprie delle opere di James Ballard, dove il senso di smarrimento si incunea a poco a poco nella stessa psiche dei personaggi, sempre più vecchi, più soli e più rassegnati.

Comincio a pensare che, dopo l’abbuffata degli anni 60-80, alla base di una mia personale
...more
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  • The Complete Roderick
  • Dark Benediction
  • Emphyrio
  • The Child Garden
  • The Rediscovery of Man
  • Jem
  • Non-Stop
  • Dying Inside
  • Bring the Jubilee
  • Of Men and Monsters
  • Life During Wartime
  • Arslan
  • Half Past Human (The Hive, #1)
  • Drowning Towers
  • This Is the Way the World Ends
  • The Centauri Device
  • The Affirmation
  • Dr. Bloodmoney
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Walter Stone Tevis was an American novelist and short story writer. Three of his six novels were adapted into major films: The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth. His books have been translated into at least 18 languages.
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“I feel free and strong. If I were not a reader of books I could not feel this way. Whatever may happen to me, thank God that I can read, that I have truly touched the minds of other men.” 103 likes
“Reading is too intimate,' Spofforth said. 'It will put you too close to the feelings and ideas of others. It will disturb and confuse you.” 16 likes
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