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Pavane (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 9 Nov 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (9 Nov. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857989376
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857989373
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The definitive alternate history ¿ an engrossing future that never was.

About the Author

SALES POINTS * #35 in the Millennium SF Masterworks series, a library of the finest science fiction ever written. * ¿A striking work of the imagination¿ Anthony Burgess * ¿Keith Roberts¿s evocative prose, sharply drawn characters, and unique concepts make him, to my mind, the finest British SF writer of his generation. No alternate history novel of the past thirty years comes close to equalling Pavane¿ George R. R. Martin * ¿Robert¿s gift in Pavane is to make us see both the delights and the horrors of this simpler alternative; to see this alternate world as a complex, functioning reality¿ Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove, Trillion Year Spree.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in 1972 or thereabouts and was immediately entranced by the author's beautiful style and the story which is, at once, gripping and romantic. It is a novel made up of shorter stories held together by a common thread. The technology of the stories is of course "retro" and is created for an England which has a very different history from the one we know. The Church has controlled the development of the sciences in the world of Pavane and technology has progressed at an uneven and majestic pace. But the reader can immediately relate because Roberts paints such a realistic picture of a world ensnared in time, caught in the web of the Church's authority. The characters in Pavane are exquisitely drawn and their roles played out to perfection. Their world is created so perfectly that you will immediately be caught up in it and greatly regret when you must leave it, having finished reading the book. If you have a shred of romance in your soul, you must read Pavane. Unlike most other books I have read, I have had to experience Pavane several times since 1972 and it never fails to please me, no matter how many times I read it. I am about to read it again, for the umpteenth time. Join me?
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By N. Clarke on 16 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
I can really only echo the sentiments of the other five-star reviews here. This is simply a beautiful work; another gem from Gollancz' Masterworks series, although one which reads more like fantasy or historical fiction than SF.
The novel is told through a series of six 'Measures', vignettes of story and mood focusing on a different character each time. While each works separately, taken together they form a tapestry linking thematic and narrative concerns - producing, ultimately, a beautifully-conceived and wonderfully effective tale of twentieth century England stifled by an all-powerful, anti-progress Catholic Church.
The alternate England is a triumph of understated, economical world-building (something that many of today's fantasy novels could learn from, perhaps). It is filled with enduring images - the Signallers' towers, the steam engines, the land held in winter's icy grasp - made all the more striking and memorable because we are shown them through the eyes of convincing and distinctive characters.
My only criticism would be of the 'Coda', which feels superfluous, and far too neat. Otherwise, this is a moving story of a transforming world, all the more effective for being incompletely explained.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on 18 May 2011
Format: Paperback
Alternate history novels are sometimes regarded as a sub-genre of science fiction, but in some respects this book is the exact opposite of a work of sci-fi. Science fiction is normally set in an imagined hi-tech future, whereas "Pavane", like Kingsley Amis's "The Alteration" or Ward Moore's "Bring the Jubilee" is set in an imagined alternative low-tech present, less technologically advanced than our own society. It would, of course, be quite possible to write about a high-tech alternative present, based on some such premise as "If the Roman Empire had survived we would today be colonising the planets", but this is less often done. If one wants to write fiction about the colonisation of outer space it is easier to do so within the framework of orthodox science fiction and to set one's story in, say, 2511 rather than in an alternative 2011.

Keith Roberts's alternative world has many similarities with that imagined by Amis in "The Alteration". Roberts's point of departure occurs in 1588; Queen Elizabeth I is assassinated, resulting in a civil war and a successful invasion of England by the Spanish Armada. Protestantism is eventually destroyed, both in Britain and in Europe, and the Roman Catholic Church rules supreme over Western Christendom, including the European colonies in the New World. "The Alteration" also deals with a world where a reactionary, intolerant Catholicism has triumphed in Europe, although in Amis's world Protestantism still survives across the Atlantic in the "Republic of New England".

In the world of "Pavane", England remains a semi-feudal society, dominated by the Church and a powerful aristocracy.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Brian Flange on 17 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
The late lamented novelist and illustrator Keith Roberts had several claims on the attention of posterity but none better than this book. 'Pavane' has to be one of the most painstaking and convincing alternative history stories ever written. (It also won plaudits from Brian Aldiss and was selected by Anthony Burgess as one of his '99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939'.) The prologue to the book neatly introduces Roberts' other world, describing the bloody aftermath of Elizabeth I falling to an assassin's bullet in 1588. In the ensuing chaos, the Armada successfully invade and suppress the forces of the English Reformation. Thereafter, England remains within the Catholic fold. Most of 'Pavane' is a series of (often beautifully-written) episodes in the history of this alter-England from 1968 until sometime early in the 21st century. Roberts' chronicle deftly shows the Church hierarchy and the forces of revolt struggling through decades of uneasy truce. As the years pass, the power of the Church comes under attack and an older wisdom begins to re-assert itself. Just when you think you can see where Roberts' alternative world is going, the ending of the book throws a very different and thought-provoking slant on this subtly changed history. Rather unusually for an SF author, Keith Roberts combined a clear and unpretentious style with a firm grasp of writerly virtues like characterisation and plot, and, believe me, this unusual combination pays off. (I hate to disagree with any of the previous reviews, but anybody with an aversion to fantasy who reads this review might like to note that there aren't actually any fairies or pixies in 'Pavane' at all - without giving anything away, the 'People of the Heath' referred to near the end of the book are entirely human.Read more ›
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