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On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Hardcover – 21 Jun 2001


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; First Edition edition (21 Jun 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575071761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575071766
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,773,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.


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On Tighe's eighth birthday one of the family goats fell off the world. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Key on 17 Sep 2003
Format: Paperback
I have to go with the reader from Sandown. There's a lot of invention packed into this book, and the main character is effectively drawn, but then it all tails off into a series of disjointed scenes and, ultimately, the arrival of a deus ex machina (in more senses than one) who explains nearly everything but then sets up a couple of brand new mysteries, and then... the book stops. Roberts fits comfortably into the millenium wave of British SF writers - the belief that novels don't need a proper ending, the obsession with gore, blood, guts and severed limbs, all the trademarks are there. So long as you can get past that it's not a bad book, but it's lacking something.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "thealienonline_editor" on 2 Dec 2002
Format: Paperback
Adam Roberts' second novel demonstrates that here is an author who refuses to be straight-jacketed by the 'normal' rules of hard sf as he creates the most bizarre of worlds and then show us it from the perspective of one of its seemingly most insignificant denizens.
Tighe's story is part quest through a setting as bizarre as any in Gene Wolfe's 'New Sun' series, part the story of a coming of age into a true age of wonders. Yes, it's strange, yes it's unusual, indeed almost 'fantastic' in flavour, but it does have a very solid hard sf basis - and there's always been more to science fiction than just robots and spaceships, as Roberts more than ably demonstrates.
Give 'On' a try - take your head in new directions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Clare on 21 Nov 2007
Format: Paperback
I have read other books by Adam Roberts such as Salt that I enjoyed. However this book left me very disappointed. The concept behind the book is a very interesting one but the characters and plot within the book were shallow and meaningless. As for the ending - I thought I had a book with missing pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pie56 on 28 Dec 2007
Format: Paperback
The quote on the cover says "very high concept". This is true, but the story is driven along by the need to reveal the "high concept" underpinnings of the world, not by the characters. With each change in Tighe's circumstance, he is little changed by his experiences. The overall effect was unconvincing, particularly the end (which it was a struggle to reach). I gave this book 2 stars as I liked the clues and (mis)information seeded in the story about the origins of the world, even though I didn't like the way which the underlying mystery drove the story.

If you are new to Adam Roberts' work, don't start with this book, try Stone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Nov 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Various reviewers have either raved or ranted about the lack of conclusion to the book but actually, it kind of stops on a bit of a cliff-hanger that feels like ON - Part 2 may come along sometime.
In general this is a road-movie of a book with the main character growing from boyhood to manhood as he blown across the surface of the world wall by extreme events. The time line seems to expand and contract so that 50 pages equate to a few days of his life and then later a couple of paragraphs to months, maybe a year - this is somewhat annoying.
Also, the explanation of the boys existence and the reason that his world is the way it is, I found, a little rushed and raised more questions then answers.
Not a compulsive read but something to do on a wet Sunday afternoon.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Nov 2002
Format: Paperback
The book started well, with some great characterisation. I really enjoyed the introductory part, which was very short, but then half the good characters got effectively killed off. The tale seemed to then go into an incredibly long and ultimately irrelevent series of cutscenes into the conclusion, which was equally short and unsatisfactory. Definitely not a good story, nor well told. The characters and the set though, cannot be faulted.
The worst offence of all, in my view, was the appendix which explained in painful technical detail the origin of the unusual phenomenon which is the breathtaking central premise of the book. There was more than enough room in the body of the book to explain all of this in a much more friendly and exciting way; and goodness knows it needed a bit of that. The appendix managed to make this audacious idea into a dull and pointless sideshow. A tragic waste.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Diziet TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 23 Oct 2010
Format: Hardcover
What a very strange book. It is based around a single, huge concept that results in a world that is almost unrecognisably alien. But within this alien world, people live small agrarian lives, superstitious, narrow and ignorant. And then one boy, Tighe, goes unwillingly and unknowingly on a quest. And that is kind of the trouble with the book. Quests, to my mind, don't always make for the most riveting of stories. The central concept is so huge that the narrative ends up being almost swallowed by it. The story tends towards the 'this happened and next, this happened and after that, this happened', so there's not really any 'plot'.

In some ways, it rather reminded me of 'Davy' by Edgar Pangborn. In that book, the eponymous hero travels through a post-apocalyptic America, ruled by the Holy Murcan Church. But in Adam Roberts world, things are more tribal, as the Empire declares war on the 'Otre' and Tighe is caught up in the ensuing chaos. The story seems allegorical, almost like 'Gulliver's Travels', but if it is, the allegory is pretty obscure. It feels as though there should be some ulterior motive or power. It is, at times, reminiscent of 'Candy Man' - another post-apocalyptic but dream-like novel. There's also something very English about the book - probably the nearest comparison I can think of is Brian Aldiss's 'Hothouse'.
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