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Eifelheim Hardcover – 17 Oct 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Classics (17 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765300966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765300966
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.1 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,482,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stuart W. Mirsky on 21 Mar. 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I wasn't surprised to see some reservations from some readers on this one (here and on amazon.com USA), despite the fact that I found Eifelheim fascinating and very effectively written. The book does offer some rather heavy going in places, both in terms of the deep and substantial manner in which the author has evoked the medieval world in which the bulk of the tale is set and in terms of the science, with its notions of a "polyverse" as being more accurate description of what we currently think of as the "universe." The premise of the book is intriguing: aliens "crash land" on Earth in late medieval Germany and are discovered by the locals whose first inclination, of course, is to see in them the mythic demons that infest their belief system. Of course the aliens, themselves, are inclined to conceal themselves for self-protection and to strike out in their own defense if they perceive themselves threatened, leading to some difficult going at the start.

The ensuing culture clash is aggravated by the fact that the aliens are insectoid which puts their behavioral traits at great remove from what the humans who stumble into them are accustomed to. An early interview by the crew's leadership of the local pastor, after he discovers them in the forest, resolves itself into confusion and fear when the insectoid aliens respond to the pastor's earnest attempts at communication by beating him senseless with their bony limbs -- normal interaction among the insect-like creatures, it turns out, but appalling and terrifying to the priest. And yet Father Dietrich, an intellectual contemporary and friend of some of the great minds of his day, manages to overcome the natural fear which their behavior inspires in him, as the insectoids haltingly learn to moderate their behavior in new company.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Jun. 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Michael Flynn has written an engaging science fiction story set in the fourteenth century. As in Connie Willis's Doomsday Book, readers are given a close view of the swift horror of the plague's spread through a village of people we have come to care for. And there are also structural similarities to Jack McDevitt's A Talent For War. As we follow events in the past, we also trace the progress of two researchers in the present who follow sparse clues to uncover the past.

Father Dietrich watches over the inhabitants of a tranquil German village, tending to their spiritual needs and avoiding the ghosts of his less-than-peaceful past. A spaceship crewed by insectoid Krenk becomes stranded in the nearby wood. The aliens and the villagers begin to interact and form relationships ranging from terror-driven hatred to close friendship. Tension grows as the Krenk repair their ship, the black plague marches across Europe, and word of the alien "demons" begins to spread. In a parallel story, present-day researchers wonder why the village of Eifelheim disappeared during the plague and--unlike other ravaged areas--has never been resettled.

There is much to like in this book. Many of the medieval and alien characters are complex and surprising. The discussions of Krenk science and medieval science and religion provide insights for aliens and humans alike. The various Krenk reactions to Christian doctrine are instructive, entertaining, and occasionally touching. The characters struggle with realistic problems and realistic moral choices. Not everything works out neatly or completely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rod Williams on 21 Jan. 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Very deserving of its award status, Eifelheim is a novel which brings alive day to day activities in a German village in 1348, mainly through the eyes of Father Dietrich, an intelligent deep-thinking priest whose life and worldview are thrown into turmoil when aliens (whom some of the villagers take to be demons) crashland in the local Herr's woods.
Meanwhile, in the present day, Tom is trying to discover why Eifelheim doesn't fit his mathematical model of population centres. According to all his theories, the village, although depopulated in the late 1300s, should have been resettled. His long term girlfriend Sharon, meanwhile, has been making discoveries of her own regarding the decreasing rate of the speed of light.
The reaction of her immediate superiors in the world of Academia is one of shock, since Sharon - in challenging one of the basic tenets of science, i.e. the constancy of the speed of light - is committing heresy.
One of the beauties of this novel is that Flynn examines both science and religion - or rather, the social frameworks in which science and religion exist.
One of the great ironies at the heart of `Eifelheim' is that the aliens believe that God is an actual being who will `enflesh' himself in order to return to Earth. They therefore nurture the idea that God will be able to help them repair their ship and go home, which, translated as `taken to the heavens' prompts both Father Dietrich and his Franciscan assistant Joachim, to assume that the aliens accept the basic concept of Christianity.
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