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Jem (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 10 May 2001


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Paperback, 10 May 2001
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (10 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857987896
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857987898
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 420,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A cynical and compelling tale of politics, exploitation and colonisation on another planet.

About the Author

Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) Frederik Pohl had an extensive career as both a writer and editor spanning over seventy years. Using various pseudonyms, Pohl began writing in the late 1930s, his first published work being a poem titled "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna", which appeared in the October 1937 issue of Amazing Stories. Pohl edited both Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories between 1939 and 1943 and whilst many of his own stories appeared in these two pulp magazines they were never under his own name. After this period, from 1943 to 1945, Pohl served in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of sergeant as an air corps weatherman. Between the end of the war and the early '50s, Pohl was active as a literary agent, representing many successful writers of the genre including Isaac Asimov. The winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, Pohl became the SFWA Grand Master in 1993 and was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1998. He died in September 2013.

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3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Aug 2001
Format: Paperback
Jem is a distant planet, which circles its own star far away from Earth. This is a vivid and sad tale of 'wicked insanity', alien beings, espionage, colonization, and war.
Before human invasion, Jem hosts three intelligent species: airborne 'gasbags' who sing to one another in flocks; land dwelling 'Krinpit', resembling crustaceans; and the ominous 'burrowers' beneath the soil.
The story is set in the not-too-distant future, told from the perspective of the USA, a large part of one of Earth's 3 main power blocks: 'Food', 'Oil', and 'People' exporters. The emnity between the 3 nations on Earth turns from paranoia into a nuclear war. This is paralleled by their race to colonize Jem, and is mirrored by the 3 intelligent forms of life on Jem. The novel interweaves these storylines.
The world of Jem is entirely believable. It is introduced as a peaceful planet, where the 3 species within have learned to keep themselves to themselves, thus being able to live together, despite hostile feelings towards one another. However, as soon as Earth's three nations land on Jem, they teach the native species both political and physical ways of harming other beings. Espionage is employed by the competing power blocks, using the natives as their spies. Weapons are given to some of the natives, which promotes killing and war.
The flaws of colonization are portrayed in a colourful and amusing way. The reader learns to know and pity the virtually defenceless native races, as well as hating most of the manipulative, militant, and greedy human invaders.
Pohl first published this thought provoking novel in 1979, as a warning against the futility of hostility, and as an ironic study of 'the making of a Utopia'. At times I couldn't turn a page without pausing to laugh my head off!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lark TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 15 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback
Which doesnt spoil an absolutely superb book in between, the discovery of a new planet presents mankind with three seperate alien species with whom to interact and an idylic paradise to explore and colonise, unfortunately it becomes a foreign field into which the power blocs can introduce their rivalries and antagonisms.

The pace of the book at the beginning and the finish is a little different to the rest of it, although stick with it because this is a great book, the divisions on earth itself into power blocks based upon economic and political special interests is brilliant, dated perhaps for featuring the Soviet Union, and the alien world and species are equally brilliant.

Jem's three indigenous races live existences which are not totally free of trials or suffering but the changes in their lives brought about by human intervention are portrayed in heart rending ways, without exaggeration or melodrama and without impeding the progression of the over arching plot. The pace is good and I understand that it could be considered more than a little fatalistic in its treatment of superpower conflict, encounters between highly evolved and more vulnerable cultures but the story does possess some vital realism.

A highly recommended read from the masterworks series.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By HeecheeRendezvous on 13 May 2011
Format: Paperback
I had to add my review after seeing the less positive reviews here. This is an excellent book. As Earth becomes more populated, and resources more scarce, the world's nations coalesce into three massive superpowers, all engaged in a cold war with each other. A new planet, Jem, is discovered, and hungry for the space and resources up for grabs, each of the three big powers launches an expedition to stake a claim. The planet is already home to intelligent life, however, and these inhabitants get drawn into a proxy war for the various colonists.

I thought this book was brilliantly executed. The story is rich, full of great ideas and insane characters with their own priorities and agenda, and the point of view of the aliens is also well-described.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Riley on 8 Mar 2005
Format: Paperback
Jem shows a brilliantly realised future world with compelling characters, both human and alien. It's just the ending that really lets it down. In common with Gateway, for me there was no real sense of closure, all the really interesting parts of the finale are skipped over and what could be a whole new book makes a one chapter appearance in its place.
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1 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sulkyblue on 6 Nov 2009
Format: Paperback
It took me nearly a month to read this book, thanks to a reduction in available reading time and a complete lack of interest in this book. The attitudes of characters and the futility of the situation just frustrated me. Reading only a small amount every now and then made it hard to keep up with jumping plot and characters. I was dubious about how any of the plot could possibly come about, from both a political and evolutionary point of view. I suspect the author was Making a Point.
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