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Floating Worlds (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 8 Dec 2011

3.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; 2011 edition (8 Dec. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575108231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575108233
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 3.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 484,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A seminal feminist SF novel of the highest literary quality, comparable to the works of Joanna Russ and Ursula K. LeGuin.

About the Author

Cecelia Holland was born in 1943 and is a well-known and acclaimed writer of historical fiction. FLOATING WORLDS is her only SF novel.


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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really wish this book was half the length as it might make it twice as interesting, although I have my doubts. And simply because this book was written by a woman in the 1970's it will be described as "Feminist" or about Feminism or something else with the word 'Feminis' in it. But it's not. The book attempts to use shock value and your own moral outrage to engage you but instead you are worn down with over 640 page, many of which detail where people are in relation to each other in a room and how they walk down a particular corridor. There are a few moments where it becomes interesting but the vast majority of it is not. Please don't be fooled by the MasterWorks title, it's a smokescreen as this book is not masterful or in any way deserving of this moniker. I'm not keeping my copy and have put it up for sale. My book club read it and only 3 out of almost 40 people said they actually enjoyed it. The best I heard anyone say was "It's not so bad" AVOID!
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Format: Paperback
I liked this book and am glad I read it, but I can see why some people hate it - it is a bit of a curate's egg. It reminds me most of Ken MacLeod's works like The Star Fraction, being an exploration of alternative political systems in the future of the solar system where the author's sympathies clearly lie with the left-wing (in this case anarchists). In this future at least one planet-spanning empire has risen and fallen since our time, which provides a nice sense of historical depth.

The core of the book is the contrast between political systems at a time of crisis, how they impinge upon the central character, and the extent to which she can work within them or has to adapt to them. It is about power, both personal and institutional, and the interrelationship between them.

On the negative side, I agreed with another reviewer that you never find out much about what drives the central character - she is a bit of a clothes-horse on which to hang the plot. The descriptions of future technology have dated badly and are not convincing. And yes it is too long and the ending is a bit flat.

But I am still thinking about it a month after reading it, and that to me is the mark of a good sci-fi work.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did enjoy Floating Worlds, though not as much as I expected to. That isn’t to say it’s a particularly bad book, just that it never really seems to get going, with the main protagonist almost stumbling from one encounter to the next. While it’s true that she does have some level of autonomy, she seems to be caught up in events that leave her well out of her depth for much of the book, and there’s never any real sense that she has any control over the things that happen around her.

As one of the so-called classics of seventies science fiction I guess this is a book that all sci-fi fans should read; just don’t expect it to be particularly groundbreaking.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Floating Worlds has some brilliant concepts. It is wide in its ideas of evolution of the solar system. I enjoyed the sparse style which conveyed so much.

I felt that the ending left so many unanswered questions, and wondered if there was an intended sequel.

I selected this book to read on my Kindle for two reasons. Many years ago I read "Rakossy" by Cecelia Holland and thought it was an excellent book. I also enjoy reading science fiction, so this seemed a good choice.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Last year "New Scientist" magazine had an article where famous scientists named their "favourite forgotten SF masterpieces" and this was one of the books mentioned. The fact that there were only seven reviews prior to this one but they were all five stars would seem to confirm the said famous scientists opinion, but I'm afraid I have to differ. I've never enjoyed an SF book less. I found the plot confusing and disjointed, and except for the heroine (and not always her) I couldn't understand the motivations of the characters (of which there were too many).

For me the book didn't read like a novel but rather as a treatment for a lurid, violent, sexually explicit SF soap opera, and to be honest, if it were ever made I would probably watch it!
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I'm astounded at the high marks this book has been given. It is one of the few books I found actively unpleasant to read, and in fact it took me 2 attempts to finish it.

The reader is asked to sympathise with a woman who collaborates with a group of racist, violent slavers who inhabit the moons in the Outer Planets of the solar system. Written in the 70s, it wants us to excuse them as they are somehow 'sticking it to the Man', but what this actually means in the book is that anyone who vaguely went against the main protagonist ends up being murdered, enslaved or brainwashed.

If it was some kind of study on the effects of slavery, both for the slaves and the masters, I could see a point to this book. It isn't.

Definitely a book of its time, but not one I could recommend
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was so hopeful when I read Floating Worlds, having seen it compared to the work of Ursula LeGuin, amongst others. I was deeply disappointed. It is one of the very few books that I have started and then thrown away. The characters are one-dimensional and there is, perhaps deliberately, no sense of personality, environment or introspection to explain their actions. Anyone familiar with speculative fiction will know that different philosophies, societies and technologies are represented with greater panache, verve, enthusiasm and insight elsewhere. There is none of that impression of internal consistency, of the author's creation being a real world, that is evoked by other celebrated authors of both SF and fantasy. Floating Worlds is a polemic, inspired, I think, by the disillusion of the 1970s and stuck in its time in ways that stories by Jules Verne, HP Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, Ursula LeGuin, Larry Niven and, perhaps, even Iain M Banks are not. It's certainly not the future, but it doesn't really seem to be the Twentieth Century either. The anarchist Earth, totalitarian moon, synthetic and technological Mars and the barbarian Styth are all unconvincing, their inhabitants ciphers rather than characters.
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