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Engine Summer (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Paperback]

John Crowley
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Jan 2013 S.F. MASTERWORKS
In the drowsy tranquility of Little Belaire, the Truthful Speakers lead lives of peaceful self-sufficiency ignoring the depopulated wilderness beyond their narrow borders. It is a society untouched by pain or violence and the self-destroying 'Angels' of the past are barely remembered. But when Rush That Speaks leaves his home on a pilgrimage of self-enlightenment, he finds a landscape haunted by myths and memories. The overgrown ruins reflect a world outside that is stranger than his people ever dreamed...

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Engine Summer (S.F. MASTERWORKS) + Take Back Plenty (S.F. MASTERWORKS) + The Caltraps of Time (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (10 Jan 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 057508281X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575082816
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 171,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A powerfully moving quest for truth in a post-apocalyptic landscape from the WORLD FANTASY AWARD-winning author of LITTLE, BIG.

About the Author

John Crowley was born in Maine in 1942 and grew up in Vermont, Kentucky and Indiana before moving to New York and taking up work in documentary films - an occupation he still pursues alongside his writing. THE DEEP, his first SF novel, was published in 1975 and was followed by BEASTS, ENGINE SUMMER and GREAT WORK OF TIME. With the publication of LITTLE, BIG in 1981 he won the WORLD FANTASY AWARD and was shortlisted for the HUGO, NEBULA and BSFA AWARDS.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Will
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Crowley is a unique author and I would rate this right up with 'Little, Big' as a genuinely unique contribution to SF. The key themes reference our relationship with technology and the changing of humanity, as well as the power of storytelling and myth-making. The ending of this book, which initially I found slightly disappointing, is in fact gentle, deep, moving and meaningful, sad and hopeful - it ultimately stayed with me for a long time.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Crowley 8 Feb 2013
One of Crowley's earliest published works, this shows his promise as an author of "literary SF" (yeah, I know). If you like Russell Hoban and classic Arthur C. Clarke, you'll like this book. If you're looking for Crowley's best, look to "Little, Big" or his Aegypt cycle. Then come back to this book and see the genesis of his style.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a dream 26 April 2000
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
If Little, Big is supposed to be his absolute masterpiece then I'm really looking forward to reading it (it's next on my list) because this book was one of the most lyrical and poignant books I've ever read. Crowley is one of the most poetic writers to grace the SF/fantasy genres, the only comparsions that come even close are Tim Powers, Michael Moorcock and Samuel R Delany and even then they're nothing like Crowley. This book here is his major contribution to the SF canon, but because of its out of print status (my edition was printed in the early eighties, how long ago did it go out? and why?) it's mostly stayed relegated to cult novel catagories, leaving people like me and others to sing its praises and get his name out there. But about the book. A riff on the theme of post-war America, this is completely unlike any of the books I've ever read on the topic. It's not surprising plot wise (in fact the plot is rather straightforward, progressing from point A to point B quite easily) and the idea of people growing up in the shadow of the end of the war, it having happened so long ago that nobody can even remember the old days, surrounded by pieces of machinery created by the old civilization (the angels) and just basically living. But I don't know, because of the way he writes, the entire novel is given this pastoral feel, like it takes place in an endless summer, I can vividly picture Rush That Speaks and his people frolicking in the lost land not even knowing what it all used to be. It gives it this dreamlike quality and sometimes the action borders on the surreal, but it's always gentle and lyrical. Simply put this is one of those books that has to be read, and slowly, to let the images develop in your head and lounge around there for a bit. And the ending is one of the best and most satisfying that I've seen in a long time and a little sad at the same time. Enough with the plaudits, this is one of the most distinctive SF books ever written and more than deserves everyone's attention.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle, charming myth of character and loss 3 Oct 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
You must read all of John Crowley's books, including the classics Little, Big and Aegypt. But save room in your heart for Engine Summer, the sunniest, wisest, and happiest. If you ever fear that you have grown too old and world-weary to be happy, if you have forgotten the child you were, if you can't remember the time before you knew that people lied or hurt others on purpose, read this wonderful book and be transported back to your heart's true home.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Humans, Saints & Angels Get Mingled. 26 Dec 2006
By Maximiliano F Yofre - Published on Amazon.com
John Crowley (1942) is not a very prolific sci-fi writer, eight novels between 1975 and 2002, but all his books have a very distinctive style. A special "taste" I risk to say.

"Engine Summer" was the first novel he wrote (circa 1965), yet not the first he published, actually it was his third book (1979).

The story describes a post apocalyptic world where Humankind dwells in small and scattered communities with very little communication among them.

Little Bellaire is an enclave of "truthful speakers" that have developed a strange society full of myths about Saints and Angels.

Rush That Speaks is the young protagonist of the story. He has a fervent desire to become a Saint and in order to achieve this he starts peregrinate into the vast outside world.

At the same time he is looking for Once a Day his long lost love.

A strange, magic and poetic world unfold, full of surprises and surprising characters up to the satisfactory end.

Crowley confers his tale a structure that mix the classic "Hero's Quest" with the imagery of the "Flower Power" movement.

Crowley's approach has many points in common with PKD, but he is an optimist and this trait please me more.

A final warning: don't let the first pages full of exotic references stop you, they will soon be explained.

Enjoy this astounding opus!

Reviewed by Max Yofre.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An obscure post-apocalyptic gem! 21 Feb 2007
By Schtinky - Published on Amazon.com
Rush-That-Speaks is born in Little Belaire, into the Palm Cord family. Cords are like clans, Palm Cord, Buckle Cord, Water Cord, etc. In his seventh season, on his way to see the Gossip named Painted-Red, Rush meets a young girl named Once-A-Day from Whisper Cord who greatly impacts his life. The Gossips are close to fortune-tellers or story-tellers, with a slight reference to tarot reading in that they read glass slides called the Filing System. After his reading with Painted-Red, who tells him he's a Truthful Speaker, Rush-That-Speaks decides he wants to become a Saint.

After Once-A-Day leaves with the Dr. Boots List clan, Rush finds himself empty, and eventually decides to leave Little Belaire to find both her and himself. He spends a season with a Saint named Blink before finding the List, and sets about trying to learn the List's ways that are so alien to him as a Truthful Speaker. The Dr. Boots List lives with large cats, prowling their home of Service City as freely as the human do. Rush-That-Speaks must reconcile his present with both past and future, and make sense of the many riddles told to him about life.

While this may sound like the book is hard to follow, you'll find that it isn't. In a futuristic post apocalyptic world, people have carved out conclaves bearing resemblances to towns or cities, each unique in their lives and beliefs. Most people live and die in their own conclave, making Rush's journeys exceptional.

The world, consisting of what folks now call "angels", launched a satellite into the sky now called "Little Moon" before The Storm destroyed their society. They also sent out probes that returned carrying the seeds of bubble-like trees that produce "St. Bea's Bread", a smokeable source of food. These are items taken for granted in this vibrant yet languid fantasy classic. (though its often classified as SciFi, its more a fantasy tale)

You'll appreciate the complexities of a society alien to us, the survivors of what had once been ours, and how they live their lives among the ruins. Little Belaire held such charm for me that I was as sad when Rush left as he must have been.

The story is told as Rush-That-Speaks relays his tale to an angel, beginning with the beginning and ending with the ending. The story is well-written, intriguing, complex with riddles and mysteries, and ripe with fully-fleshed characters. Let you imagination go, and pick up this hidden jewel of a book. Enjoy!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely tale of a life's story thast changes the world 6 Aug 1999
By Ivonne Miller - Published on Amazon.com
After the destruction, little BelAir is a community of truthful speakers who have survived and built a unique city- a microoculture with deep roots in the recovering earth and a rich emotional life. Crowley's young protagonist goes on "Walkabout", in search of their version of sainthood and finds far more than he envisioned. He achieves his goal, but in a terrifying and poignant way that he (and you) never dreamed of. This powerful little masterpiece has remained in my heart for 30 years. I take it out and reaquaint myself with it often.
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