Dergrossest's Reviews > Jack Faust

Jack Faust by Michael Swanwick
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's review
Jan 07, 2009

it was ok

** spoiler alert ** It's tough to like a book that is all about the meaninglessness of life and inherent evil of humanity, but the author comes close to making the sale. This supposedly modern retelling of Faust is really an alternate history tale, with aliens standing in for the Devil. The premise is that these aliens wish to terminate humanity by accelerating the development of technology, which of course happens. But this is patently unfair to humanity since technological and societal change usually move hand in hand and to expect that underdeveloped societies just emerging from 1,000 years of darkness since after the fall of Rome would be able to handle nuclear power overnight is simply ridiculous. It's like giving children cars to drive and concluding that children are ultimately self-destructive because they subsequently get into accidents with the cars and kill themselves, when in reality they just weren't ready for them and neither are the humans in this book. Still, the writer is very skilled and his descriptions of a Middle Ages industrial, financial and social revolution are fascinating, as are the manifestations and observations of his Sci-Fi Mephistopheles, and his sometimes sweet, mostly cynical and always vivid passages on sex - this book is definitely not for the puritanical. However, notwithstanding these enjoyable aspects, this ultimately remains a hard book to like. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, but I just don't think that mankind or life sucks as much as the author does.
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