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Fairyland Paperback – 3 Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (3 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575086580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575086586
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 124,121 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

Amazon Review

Having already made the final shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award with his SF novels Eternal Light and Pasquale's Angel, Paul McAuley finally won this coveted prize with Fairyland. The title's hint of fey fantasy is blackly ironic: this is a streetwise cyberpunk future, replete with gene-hacking, instant designer drugs, and mind-warping viruses that function as "love bugs" or "loyalty plagues". One spinoff of genetic tailoring is a slave race of blue-fleshed "dolls", modified baboons made bright enough to do society's dirty jobs--until they're liberated by the unholy alliance of an idealistic child prodigy and a biologically savvy nerd, boosting them to thinking, evolving, breeding "fairies". And indeed the night becomes full of unwholesome magic and fanged terrors again, as this new race steps into the old mythological niche of the dark elves, attacking venomously from the trees and setting up their private fairyland in the decayed remains of a certain Magic Kingdom outside Paris... Though occasionally obscure and not quite plausible in all its plot details, Fairyland is a creepily effective nightmare of a world becoming increasingly chaotic under the stress of runaway biotechnologies, excessively deadly toys in the hands of people with no more common sense than children. Vivid and viscerally compelling. --David Langford --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

When gene hacker Alex Sharkey helps a super-smart girl turn a genetically-engineered doll into a new species he accidentally gives history a dangerous shove.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok on 3 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
"Fairyland" remains one of the most impressive works in post-cyberpunk fiction, conjuring a nightmarish vision of a near future Europe in which biotechnology has run amok, creating new species of humans designed for pleasure and violent sport. Paul J. McAuley's novel is a fast-paced thriller reminiscent of William Gibson and John Shirley's early cyberpunk novels in its pacing. Succumbing to the charm and vision of a megalomaniac brilliant young child, Milena, genetic engineer Alex Sharkey helps unleash a dire threat to humanity's existence, allowing "dolls" - bioengineered beings based on human DNA, designed for pleasure, slavery and wanton destruction in gladiator-like amusement games - the opportunity to think for themselves and understand the notion of free will. He will pursue these beings and other, similar, creatures across decades across a European landscape wasted by the ravages of war and poverty, searching for Milena and a means to ensure humanity's survival. Without question, "Fairyland" is still one of Paul J. McAuley's greatest works in fantasy and science fiction, demonstrating his great gifts in storytelling and writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Cull VINE VOICE on 27 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
Set in a dystopian near future, Fairyland is filled with exotic and sinister technological wonders. Designer drugs, mind-altering viruses, savage "warewolves", personalities uploaded into virtual worlds. And, of course, there are the dolls, artificial beings created for humanity's amusement but which, like miniature Frankenstein monsters, become increasingly and alarmingly independent. Fairyland suffers from being a novel in three parts, with separate casts of minor characters, and this makes it rather disjointed. But the firecracker display of ideas is exhilarating, Alex Sharkey is a refreshingly atypical hero and, despite dating from over a decade ago, this novel remains relevant and enjoyable.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A rich and strange world is conjured by this novel. Fairytale creatures and subjective points of view are created by quite plausible but roughly sketched genetic engineering, bioinformatics and nanotechnology innovations. It is populated with dark and nasty characters, and others who are ambiguous but subjected to extreme privations, a bit like those in The Quiet War. Through them you're only given flickering oblique snapshots of a grand narrative (the creation of Fairyland by greater powers, locked in their own struggles), whilst their own struggles form the page-turning plot. This makes for a complexity that can be rewarding, but also left black areas of misunderstanding and confusion for me.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jane Aland VINE VOICE on 31 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
For two-thirds of its length Fairyland is an enjoyable character-driven science fantasy, but unfortunately it falls at the final hurdle with an overly obscure and anticlimactic ending. The central idea seems to be an expansion of McAuley’s earlier short story ‘Karl and the Ogre’ (collected in The King of the Hill) with it’s setting of a seemingly fantastic landscape created out of technology. The story centres around the evolution of genetically engineered dolls into fairies – part one showing the creation of the first fairy, with part two dealing with an early colony set up in the remains of the old Disneyland Paris. Both of these are expertly paced as the sympathetic characters draw the reader deeper into the mystery of fairy ‘Queen’ Milena, and paint a disturbing picture of a world where nanotechnology is capable of changing people’s perception on a massive scale.
This is excellent stuff, but unfortunately it all falls apart with a confusing finale concerning Milena’s quest for immortality. This muddled and unclear ending ensures the novel ends on a low point, which is a shame for a novel that promised so much. Fairyland also suffers in comparison with Richard Calder’s Dead Girls – another novel that tackles the idea of engineered dolls gaining their freedom, only with a lot more style and emotion. Fairyland is patchy and rather staid in comparison, but this is still an interesting read for sf fans.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jess (jez@vesicapisces.fsnet.co.uk) on 3 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
This book blew my mind. Without giving too much away.. it started like a detective novel, snaked its way through cyber-punk and blossomed into a treatise on the very nature of what it really means to be alive with our need for hopes, fears, symbols and myths.
In the not too distant future the boundaries blur between technology , mythology and magic. This is science fiction at its heady best and although somewhat slow to get into, I guarantee that by page 60 you'll never want to put it down. This book lives with you. Fabulous. If you enjoy it (and i know you will) also try Ice People by maggie gee and Child Garden by Geoff Ryman.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not entirely sure why I didn't like it. A combination of length (much too long), a nasty premise (genenered "dolls" as servants- often used for sex), complexity (often hard to follow), hard to like (or care about) characters. It *is* clever and multi-layered and zips around a post modern world. The world (apart from the dolls) I almost like.

Read his other stuff- *that's* good
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Feb. 1999
Format: Paperback
McAuley has added to the small set of books which add a new paradigm to SF. His atmospheric nanotech-dominated world, infused with the culture of global immersive web-space, drug-dealing and low-life, is suffused with a sense of wonder. You almost feel nostalgic for what is a horrifying preview of the supercession of decadent humankind by the gen-engineered "fairies". Definitely up there with Peter Hamilton, Greg Bear.
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