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Mockingbird (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 14 Jun 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (14 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575079150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575079151
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Walter Tevis is the acclaimed author of The Hustler and The Man Who Fell to Earth, both memorably filmed

About the Author

Walter Tevis (1928-84) was born in San Francisco but his family moved to Kentucky when he was ten. However, he was suffering from rheumatic fever and was left behind, alone in hospital. He rejoined his family in Kentucky after a year and attended school there. After service as a carpenter's mate in the Second World War, he went to the University of Kentucky where he earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in English. He then taught at various high schools in Kentucky before becoming a professor at the University of Ohio. He began publishing science fiction in 1957. He published The Hustler in 1959 and The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1963 but he was struggling with a serious drink problem and a long gap in his writing career followed. However, in the four years before his death from cancer, he published Mockingbird, which is now widely recognized as a science-fiction classic, The Steps of the Sun and The Queen's Gambit.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jeep Tenk on 31 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
Yes, it is in the future, there are robots of great perfection and fundamental flaws, humanity is dying out due to a robotic decision that was never corrected; but - the actual story is about self discovery, about a man robbed of his individuality and how he reclaims his place and role in his own life and in the world... with a little help from a woman and a robot that can not die.

Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kat on 15 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Several years ago I added Mockingbird to my ever-growing wishlist, and when I was looking to splurge on Amazon earlier this year, I decided to purchase a copy. When I realised it was tagged as 'literary sci-fi', my heart sank a little - would I really enjoy this book?

Mockingbird is set in the late 25th century, and boy things have changed - humanity is now kicking back, smoking dope, taking pills and committing suicide by getting high and setting fire to themselves in public places. Reading is a thing of the past, and in fact is even illegal, as is teaching others to read. Robots of varying levels of intelligence keep things ticking and a robot named Spofford is in control. The human race itself is in danger of extinction as there have been no children born for more than 30 years, but in their drug-induced state, no one seems to have noticed, nor cares.

Traits and behaviors, such as the notion of Privacy have been taken to extremes - it is considered a faux pas to even ask after someone's health, and humans have been taught not to question anything, just to accept the inevitable. When Spofford discovers a young man named Paul Bentley who has taught himself to read, he brings him to NYC, and by chance, Paul meets Mary Lou, who cannot take the drugs that are handed out like candy, and begins to teach her to read.

Mockingbird explores some pretty intense parts of the human psyche - the insinuation being that human beings are naturally lazy and unmotivated, which started a pretty intense debate between myself and my partner - he was unconvinced, whereas I could see it as a possibility, particularly over several generations.

The majority of Mockingbird focuses on Paul, but there are also sections told from the POV of both Mary Lou and Spofford.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By zargb5 on 25 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
Tevis will probably be familiar to most film watchers and or readers as the man who wrote "The Man Who Fell To earth." An over stylised adaptation of the far more interesting and lucid novel.

In "Mockingbird" Tevis narration is fluid, interesting and informative. The 3 main characters at the heart of the novel are well defined and their human condition and interactions unfold with ease within an easy to read prose style. There is a great deal of depth to the narrative of this novel so it would stand up to several readings.

Gollancz and the editor/compiler of the SF Masterworks series should be congratulated for the inclusion of this not so well known novel. It is a real gem and more than worthy of inclusion in this epic series. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would agree with the blurb which states that this book might be justly considered the bridge between scifi and literature. It is not Nabokov, but it is very well constructed, beautifully judged and scarily speculative about the future of mankind. It has ideas very finely above it's station.

The story opens in New York and moves to the Bronx zoo where Mary Lou is about to shock Paul Bentley by throwing a brick through the glass of a python's cage. It's a novel way to introduce oneself, at least. They take a quick hike but there have been several self-immolations in the Burger Bar where they go for a spot of lunch. The people simply take their supors, and sit there smiling as they die. All very well but the smell throws Paul and Mary Lou somewhat together and a very strange thing happens, they fall in love.

This is very wrong. Neither of them have any notion of what love is. Paul is going through a very old collection of films for his work and is horrified by the notion of family which seemed to exist in the past. He records at one time: "I am shocked and saddened by it. And they talk so much to one another. Their lips are moving all the time..." The reason why Paul is so shocked at these old films is that the USA is now run according to strict Personal Privacy Laws. Children go to nurseries to be brought up by benevolent robots and hardly anyone lives outside the system of regulation with supors. They are taught that "quick sex is best", and "Don't Ask, Relax". Take your supors and watch the pretty colours on your TV screen. Supor capsules contain anti-fertility drugs that regulate the size of any State population. At least, that is how it is supposed to work. But things are seemingly beginning to break down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andy Phillips on 18 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
This story explores a dystopian society approximately 450 years in the future from the point of view of three unusual citizens of New York. Everyone else is in a permanent drug-induced haze and lives by a moral code that is instilled in them from birth whereby interaction with other people is discouraged. Families and friendships no longer exist and nobody follows any kind of useful career, devoting themselves to the pursuit of pleasure while the commonplace robots do all the work. However, all the robots and automated machinery is breaking down and nobody has the knowledge or drive to fix anything. More importantly, no children have been born for some time but almost nobody seems to have noticed.

The story centres around an essentially immortal latest generation robot who is bored with trying to keep things running, the only man able to read and a woman he meets during his adventures. These characters are very well developed and the first part of the book is a fascinating insight into how things could turn out if everything is continually 'dumbed down'. The second part of the book follows the man who can read as he makes a journey through the former US.

The best part of the book to me is how small details of past events and how things have reached this state are gradually revealed to the reader. Many of these details are only mentioned in passing, but add a lot to the atmosphere. The sense of dispair of the more enlighted and aware main characters is well portrayed, and the way that the man begins to see what's really going on is described amazingly. Also, to my relief, the story if wrapped up fairly nicely with most of the main points resolved.

A great sci-fi book that would probably appeal to many general readers too.
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