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Cowboy Angels (GOLLANCZ S.F.) [Paperback]

Paul McAuley
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 Jun 2008 GOLLANCZ S.F.

America, 1984 - not our version of America, but an America that calls itself the Real, an America in which the invention of Turing Gates has allowed it access to sheaves of alternate histories. For ten years, in the name of democracy, the Real has been waging clandestine wars and fomenting revolution, freeing versions of America from communist or fascist rule, and extending its influence across a wide variety of alternate realities.

But the human and political costs have proven too high, and new President Jimmy Carter has called an end to war, and is bringing troops and secret agents home.

Adam Stone is called out of retirement when his former comrade, Tom Waverly, begins to murder different versions of the same person, mathematician Eileen Barrie. Aided by Waverly's daughter, Linda, Adam hunts for his old friend across different sheaves, but when they finally catch up with Waverly, they discover that they have stumbled into the middle of an audicious conspiracy that plans to exploite a new property of the Turing Gates: it will change not only the history of the Real, but that of every other sheaf, including our own.

COWBOY ANGELS combines the high-octane action and convoluted plots of the TV series 24 in a satirical, multi-layered alternate reality thriller.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; paperback / softback edition (12 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575082232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575082236
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 528,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm the author of more than twenty books, including science-fiction, thriller, and crime novels, several collections of short stories, a Doctor Who novella, and an anthology of stories about popular music, which I co-edited with Kim Newman. My fiction has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell award, the Sidewise Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the British Fantasy Award for best short story.

Before I went over to the dark side and became a full-time writer, I worked as a research biologist in various universities, including Oxford and UCLA, and for six years was a lecturer in botany at St Andrews University. My chief research interest was symbioses between unicellular algae and coelenterates, including green hydra, sea anemones, and reef-forming corals. I'm still a huge fan of all things to do with science, and spend too much time tweeting about weird and wonderful stuff as UnlikelyWorlds; Time magazine listed me as one of their top 140 most interesting tweeters in 2013.

I live in North London, and haven't yet walked down every street in the A-Z. But I'm trying.

Product Description


It's a clever book, and McAuley deals with his themes intelligently and with spark. even just as an entertaining story, this is a captivating read, depicting realistic action, unsettling events, complex characters and great pacing. A must read. (DREAMWATCH TOTAL SCI-FI)

Alternate Americas have long been a fascination for Paul McAuley, and these USAs are often chillingly convincing. (Keith Brooke THE GUARDIAN)

Book Description

A multi-layered high-octane thriller that will leave you gasping for more!

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsurprisingly Brilliant 5 Aug 2010
Britain's best short story writer makes an intricate, intelligent, fun and thought-provoking novel? No surprise there. I agree with another reviewer that this is solid 4-star science fiction, but that's in a world where 5 stars are reserved for the very best the genre has to offer, such as The Stars My Destination (S.F. Masterworks)and The Fifth Head of Cerberus (S.F. Masterworks). I rate Cowboy Angels with 5 stars because it's excellent, and it has been grossly under-rated in other reviews.

If you like science fiction, you will enjoy all of Paul McAuley's work. If you're new to Paul McAuley, his most brilliant novel, Fairyland, is easily 5-star by the aforementioned measure. Also, I'd recommend getting hold of some of his short fiction, because it truly is amazingly good. Free examples can be found on his website: [...] Decide for yourself, and if you like it as much as I do, I'd recommend keeping an eye out for him in Interzone.

Judging from the broad spectrum of these reviews, people either love or hate this stuff. My advice is to give him a chance and decide for yourself. Start with Fairyland, which deservedly won the Arthur C. Clarke award. The Quiet War (Gollancz) is another great one, as is his latest novel, Gardens of the Sun (Gollancz). I hope you like them as much as I did.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Undermarked elsewhere 25 Oct 2009
By Spinoza
Really this would rate a solid 4 stars - it is a highly readable SF techno-thriller that zaps along and plays with some interesting ideas about time travel and alternate realities- but I've given it 5 to balance out the other very harsh undermarked reviews.

It is not meant to be Stephen Baxter, and for whjat it is I found it hard to put down. A well written, taut and energetic SF thriller that builds very fluently from efficient actioner to mind bending SF. Yes, its characters are not the most three dimensional, but this was never going to be Proust, and most of them are meant to be tough guys, after all. A very enjoyable read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not so bad 31 Jan 2008
I would disagree with the previous reviewer, but I am new to alternative histories and didn't have high expectations. I think the book is focussing on the story, which is interesting enough to keep you hooked, instead of going into detailed descriptions of alternate worlds. Fine with me - I don't need to know what pebbles look like in Communist America. The characters, although not too engaging, are not dislikeable and there is a good build-up towards the end. If you're new to alternate histories and like puzzle-hunt, twisty, conspiracy theory type storeis, not a bad choice.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unpleasantly militaristic 19 Aug 2008
I used to be a big fan of Paul McAuley, going back to his excellent Fairyland, and continuing through his hot 'n' steamy Secret of Life to Whole Wide World, but IMO he started to go downhill into standard schlock-horror/thriller territory with White Devils. I borrowed Cowboy Angels from the library, and I'm glad I didn't shovel out 8 for it as it's got to be his nadir. A by-the-numbers cynical thriller with unpleasantly macho characters, an appalling bodycount, and a fetish for militarism - he's been reading too much Andy McNab, I reckon. The SF multiple-worlds aspect really isn't well explored and is pretty ho-hum for your average SF reader.

His early books displayed invention, wit, imagination, satire, and insight - this is just a tired airport thriller, disposable but leaving a sour taste in the mouth.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A mushy novel 22 Dec 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A nice piece of world-building, based on the conceit that, if it was discovered in the 1960s that there are parallel worlds to be accessed, the CIA would be running dirty tricks operations in them. But that's close to all it is; characters both strongly archetypal and rather unmemorable, and a plot that, whilst not dissolving in the way that time-travel plots can, nonetheless seems to trip over its feet and not quite get to where it was going - inadequate sense of closure at the end.
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