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Gradisil (Gollancz S.F.) [Paperback]

Adam Roberts
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 9 Nov 2006 --  

Book Description

9 Nov 2006 Gollancz S.F.
Gradisil is a multi-generational story of murder, betrayal and revenge. It is told through the eyes of three characters and against a background where mankinds rush into space has faded away leaving individual pioneers to force their way independently into space after the collapse of the big government space agencies. They ride up into space on the lines of electromagnetic force that flower into space from earth like the mighty Yggradisil - the earth tree of Norse myth. Leaving their weight behind they still carry a cargo of enmities and hatreds. Roberts has a unique approach to SF and is one of the genre's premier stylists. This is one of his most original novels yet.

Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (9 Nov 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575078170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575078178
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,166,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Roberts is a writer of science fiction novels and stories, as well as Professor of Nineteenth-century Literature in English at Royal Holloway, University of London. Three of his novels, "Salt", "Gradisil" and "Yellow Blue Tibia" were nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award; and his most recent novel "By Light Alone" has been shortlisted for the 2012 BSFA Award. He has published over a dozen novels, a number of academic works on both 19th century poetry and SF, stories, parodies, bits, pieces, this and that.

Product Description


"Roberts supplies convincing details - his characters are flawed, cranky and driven. At times, this is reminiscent of Robert Heinlein at his best." (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES )

"The author manages to deflect attention from most of the improbabilities and include an occasional anti-consumerist message, while developing his own language, spelling and finally - and most riskily - letters. Classic Roberts." (Jon Courtenay Grimwood THE GUARDIAN )

"Roberts' use of Scandinavian legend as an allegory to the magnetic boost technologies he uses to put planes into orbit has the smack of an SF trope that'll become a universal cliche in a few years." (STARBURST )

"Against the backdrop of Gradisil's nation-building odyssey, Roberts impressively explores a variety of themes. It all adds up to proof, if any were really needed, that Roberts belongs in the first rank of hard SF writers." (SFX )

"This is Roberts' best novel to date, and quite conceivably a harbinger of greatness." (Nick Gevers LOCUS )

"A well measured political science fiction novel with a darkly realistic tone throughout. The fact that the Gyeroffy family remains so flawed and yet so credible throughout is testament not just to good science fiction, but good writing in general." (DREAMWATCH )

"A thought provoking read." (BBC FOCUS ) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Adam Roberts is 39 and Reader in English at London University. His first novel, Salt, was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. He has also published a number of academic works on both 19th century poetry and SF.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
By Moom
First off, let's be clear - Adam Roberts writes high-concept sf. In the past, he's written about a universe where it was possible to fly to the moon in a biplane, and a world where gravity operates at ninety degrees... Gradisil is a story of do-it-yourself homesteaders living in tin cans in Low Earth Orbit, struggling to remain free of the bickering nations of the Earth beneath them. His style is meditative, with sparse dialogue (no scriptwriters in these people's lives). His characters are deeply flawed, and very human. His scientific conceits are sometimes pretty far-out and sometimes fascinatingly practical, but I think there's a deeper level where the relationship between his characters and their surroundings rings true. And I love it.

What's sad is that Adam will always be a niche author, because he embodies all the qualities which people assume science fiction doesn't have - fully developed characters, human-centred bittersweet stories, a deliciously innovative literary style - while still building his stories around crazy scientific and technological ideas. The best comparison I can make is with Stanislaw Lem, who died a few weeks back (very sad) - some of you might have come across 'Solaris'. If you haven't... it's the sort of style you might get if Kafka and Solzhenitsyn ganged up on Isaac Asimov and beat the crap out of him in a darkened alleyway. That's my best attempt.

What makes Adam stand apart for me, though, is his characters. They're not the emotionless, super-rational cardboard cutouts that often crop up in the genre. They are always deeply human: they're emotional and passionate, often giving to uttering non-sequiturs, or doing stupid things and not regretting them until much later.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark non-traditional sci fi 5 April 2008
As with his other books, I found Gradisil to be extremely well written. The characters were very well developed and the plot held together beautifully.

I would put this book apart from his other works, as this one could quite appeal to the non-sci fi fan. Sci fi fans looking for ultra-futuristic fantasys, aliens and intergalactic wars should avoid this book as it is more about human nature and politics, and its relationship with technology.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly different 11 Jun 2013
I'd never read anything from Adam Roberts before picking up this book so did not know what to expect. But I was thoroughly satisfied by what I found.

This book definitely fits within the category of hard sci-fi. It is firmly grounded in the reality that any kind of space colonisation is a massively expensive and demanding enterprise. Even so, it relies on the invention of a technology which is described by Roberts in just the right amount of detail to make it plausible within the book's storyline.

The themes explored in the book are reminiscent of Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (S.F. MASTERWORKS), as well as some of the works of Phillip K. Dick. As the book develops, the author experiments by telling the story from varying characters' points of reference and different styles of writing. He also manages to factor in an gradual evolution in the English language over the generations spanned by the novel, an attempt that may seem a bit jarring, but not overwhelmingly so.

Certainly, this book is not for everybody. However, I am awarding it five stars as I certainly appreciated its refreshingly different approach to sci-fi storytelling.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Page turning - in a ghastly sort of way 8 May 2007
Like a DVD that you borrow on the pretext of the dust jacket and can't switch off bcause you can't quite believe how atrocious it is, this book ought to have a health warning. "Danger, danger!" It ought to warn the reader.
After the title come interminable pages of poorly executed sub-political claptrap wherein no-one does anything for any readily discernable reason. Spanning three generations, the dysfunctional protagonists orbit the principal charcter in a helpess way that never gives a clue that any of them are other than either cogs in the machine of destiny or - more teeth grindingly - hapless chaff before her indomitable will.
Run, save yourselves.
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