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Bête Hardcover – 25 Sep 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (25 Sep 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575127686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575127685
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.9 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Roberts is a writer of science fiction novels and stories, as well as Professor of Nineteenth-century Literature in English at Royal Holloway, University of London. Three of his novels, "Salt", "Gradisil" and "Yellow Blue Tibia" were nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award; and his most recent novel "By Light Alone" has been shortlisted for the 2012 BSFA Award. He has published over a dozen novels, a number of academic works on both 19th century poetry and SF, stories, parodies, bits, pieces, this and that.

Product Description


seamlessly blends a fate-of-a-country climax with passages of prosaic beauty, resulting in a truly thought-provoking read (Sci-Fi Now)

The ever-clever Adam Roberts has conjured up another cracker in his latest...a witty and super-intelligent dark comedy (The Daily Mail)

Roberts' prose is intricate and rich in scientific language and explanation, but it's also dryly funny and on-the-nose when it wants to be, making this book about so much more than a quirky sci-fi concept. (The List)

There's an Orwellian folsky feel to this narrative more Animal Farm than 1984. Twisted in are fragments of The Golden Bough, snippets of Greek myth, of Oedipus and the Sphinx,pop culture, low culture, classic and personal myth, making this novel where Roberts the professor and ARRR Roberts (his comedy persona) meet (SFX)

Roberts tackles issues of cruelty, morality, human identity and interference in nature with confidence and wry wit (The Big Issue)

Bête is a wonderful piece of social commentary and my favourite novel of Roberts for years. It's thought provoking, it has laughs in it and will impact your outlook on life a bit. (Upcoming 4 Me)

Bête is as smart and as satisfying and as challenging as anything any of the Adam Robertses have written. I wouldn't hesitate to recommended it-just promise me you'll keep it from the prying eyes of any interested pets. (Tor.com)

Graham is an irascible, reluctant, foul-mouthed throwback to an earlier era of fiction - and Roberts' best character yet. Bête is ferocious, powerful and Roberts' best yet. (Pornokitsch)

Bête is quite simply stunning. Roberts rivals the most elequent of writers, his prose is poetic and yet satirical and serious all at the same time. With each book he grows and Bête is the pinnacle of his work so far. It's one of those books that everyone will wish they had written and anyone will love reading. (SF Book)

Adam Roberts is an award-winning author at the peak of his powers and each new novel charts an exciting new direction while maintaining a uniformly high level of literary achievement. (Lovereading.co.uk)

The greatest science fiction novels take into account the changes on the people affected by the advances in technology, and Bête ranks with the best of them. What could have been just quirky and satirical - it is both - becomes so much more through intelligent writing that takes the reader through a whole range of emotions.Bête is a wonderful book that, once begun, insists on being read in one sitting; darkly comic, it's a deeply thoughtful, moving and uplifting story from a master of the genre. (Starburst Magazine)

This electrifying new book by Adam Roberts takes just such an idea and elevates it to truly nightmarish proportions. An idea that in its own way could change the reader's perceptions of the actual relationship between man and beast we think we know, perhaps in such a way that cannot then be undone by putting this book on the recently read pile. (Forbidden Planet International)

" Roberts... comment[s] on humanity's collective relationship with the biosphere, sometimes through his minor characters - "Animals have feelings and thoughts - it's just that only now have they been able to bring them out"... "Nature it's not nice, it was never nice. Niceness is what we humans built to insulate ourselves from - all that"... At times Bete takes on some of the characteristics of the postdisaster stories associated with British SF of the fifties and early sixties... Bete is good stuff" (Book Zone)

Robert's fascinating, discursive riff on ANIMAL FARM features a grubby, self-lacerating protagonist and lashings of wry humour (The Financial Times)

Book Description

An ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU for the 21st century. An SF novel that draws in the never more timely issues of Artificial Intelligence and our relationship with the natural world.

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By D. Harris TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book is a kind of essence of Adam Roberts - heady with puns, rambling dialogue and clever references (many of which I didn't get, but I could see them going on and I'll be back to hunt them down).

All that, and a fantastically silly yet chilling plot. In the near future, thanks to tiny chips fed them by animal rights activists, the "Bêtes" of the title can talk, and are demonstrably conscious and intelligent. Consequently they're accorded rights and can't be slaughtered or owned. A catastrophe for farmers such as Graham ("Don't call me Graham!") Penhaligon who is bundled off to the nearest police station for killing a cow, and basically spends the rest of the book in a sulk, living as a wild man of the woods in Bracknell Forest. (Like Roberts' earlier New Model Army, one of the joys of this book is seeing the suburban landscape of the Thames Valley post-apocalypsed).

Graham is a Very Unsympathetic Character indeed: barely a page went by without me wanting to shake him. Yet, he is also compelling and sad (he'd hate anyone saying that about him). Two things humanise him - one event in his past, one which occurs in this books - but I won't give them away in this review. A third - his continual bad language, contempt for authority, his fellow humans, the bêtes, you name it - kept making me smile. Here is a man, I think, who could start an argument anywhere.

So the book - and Graham - tramps on, a virus (the Sclery) sweeps across the world (a bit close to reality, that) leaving houses and villages empty; the remaining humans crowd into towns, such as walled Reading, for safety from both disease and animals. It's a bit like a cross between one of John Wyndham's disaster novels and Animal Farm (which Roberts overtly references).
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Format: Hardcover
The book description lets us know that there is at least one talking animal in the world. We also know that it knows that our hero, a farmer named Graham (but only to be called "Graham" by a few, the cow not being one of them), is going to shoot it. Thus, we have a problem, or rather our main guy (I'm not one of the few, either) has a problem.

Well, actually, you see, the whole world has a problem, at least the human part of it (regardless of their names and who all they want to use them) has the problem. I guess, when you get right down to it, at least one cow has a problem at the start of the story, too. Its, her, his problem is of a more immediate nature, as well, but only by a matter of a few minutes or so.

In this world created by our author (wonder if he would mind if I called him "Adam"?), we recognize parts of our world as more and more of us people type want to somehow elevate those life forms we normally consider to be enough beneath us to be eaten to some level of legal existence with attendant rights approaching ours.

He who is not to be called "Graham" by most every being of some various number of legs (for our purpose, I'm defining zero as a number) is immediately faced with legal action because of his relationship with his talking cow and how that relationship blooms or wilts. Soon, and perhaps previously, but definitely not long after the opening salvo, such as it may have been, many, many changes come about in the everyday world of at least one of the British isles, and by implication everyone's isles (for our purpose, I'm defining continents as very large isles).

We then travel with the man whose wife was allowed to call him "Graham" as he tries to find his way through a future we find way, way, way to easily imagined.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I loved this book and have been recommending it to friends. It is very funny and clever, with some great jokes, and a gloriously angry and flawed protagonist. It is also shocking and ugly in places; yet it manages to be moving and beautiful, too. There are some fabulous descriptions of nature that gave me that 'someone has just cleaned the windows and made me see things more clearly' feeling that few writers manage to achieve. On top of all this, it's a deeply serious book that addresses some big questions about our relationship with the world and our perception of ourselves.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Once again, Roberts delivers the goods. Superbly writing, rich characterization, imaginative scenarios, profound ideas, all nearly packed into the same crate. A drama-filled disquisition on the soul, and the ethical consequences of its existence or non-existence, refracted through the lenses of animal rights and AI.
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Format: Hardcover
As witty, intelligent, and engaging as I've come to expect from Roberts. In the best tradition of science fiction that is more concerned with ideas and questions than technology and facts.
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