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Polystom (GOLLANCZ S.F.) [Hardcover]

Adam Roberts
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 May 2003 GOLLANCZ S.F.
Adam Roberts¿ fourth novel is his most ambitious yet. In a feat of extraordinary world building he creates a universe where a breathable atmosphere extends out between the planets, where aristocrats cruise interstellar space in biplanes, and skywhals make mysterious distant orbits. Then, with bravura plotting he undermines our own notions of reality and leaves the reader unsure which universe to believe. Gaining a reputation as one of the UK¿s leading SF stylists and masters of the high-concept Roberts, shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke award with his debut novel SALT, confirms his extraordinary potential with POLYSTOM.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (15 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575071788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575071780
  • Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 3.4 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,733,577 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.

Product Description


EVENTS Adam will be appearing at the NFT Crime Scene 2003 with Richard Morgan on Saturday 12th July. Adam Roberts will be reading extracts from his novelat Borders, Oxford Street on 14th July. Adam will also be teaching a SF course at the Cheltenham Festival in October. REVIEWS 'Adam Roberts continues to intrigue, invent and tantalise.'DREAMWATCH 'As ever with Roberts, the writingis sharp and the characters suitably nasty.'THE GUARDIAN 'Roberts is able toinclude the big sf stuff and let it entrance us for a bit, but then he takesus back down to earth (or whatever) to deal with how and why it's there in the first place. His abolity to write on both scales in (to me) the mark of a good sf writer... It remains for me to categorically state that this is Roberts' best novel so far.'INFINITY PLUS 'Many will read this with great affection and praise.'SFCROWSNEST 'Polystom is a complex novel, and Roberts has created a richly fascinating world and complex characters to popuate it. He writeswith intensity about human emotions in a world strangely dissimilar from ourown.'THE ZONE 'This is a superb piece of work, full of little details which create an alien, moribund society as disorientating as the physical universe it inhabits (Roberts is a real master of this)'STARBURST --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Roberts ('The King of High Concept' The Guardian) returns with his most ambitious novel yet.

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First Sentence
Polystom climbed into his biplane one morning, having made up his mind to fly to the moon. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly annoying 9 May 2008
This book is annoying. Few of the characters are in any way sympathetic. The story meanders.

And then it all suddenly makes sense and becomes somehow worthwhile. Incidentally, I'm not sure that this book has anything to with alternate realities (see other reviews) at all. In fact, I'll go further and say that it definitely doesn't have anything at all to do with alternate realities - and the fact that the other reviewers missed this may have something to do with their low scores.

More of a clinical exploration than a breathless dash through otherwise typical space opera territory, a book that demands a little patience as it sacrifices pretty much everything in favour of its high-concept core. But I like high concept.

Finally, one of the things that makes high-concept 'high' is the general irreality of it all. Clearly, there won't be any alternate reality that we can experience. But what happens in this book WILL happen, in some way shape or form. Therefore: read and be intrigued.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I chose this largely based on the book cover notes with a mind that it may be along the lines of Moorcocks Dancers at the End of Time. Though no relevance to that, Polystom sketches an engaging world , HG Wells/Victorians in Space, however does not follow through with plot execution or characters you really invest in whilst reading the book. On reflection its culmination veers towards a cyberpunk concept of alternate realities; interesting though not defining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical Steam Punk 29 Oct 2010
By Diziet TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Adam Roberts writes extraordinary books. There are not many science fiction (or even 'speculative fiction') writers around doing anything quite like Mr Roberts. Saying that, of course, not all his books are equally successful. But, for me, this is a good one.

Perhaps the central idea, not revealed until close to the end, is not wholly original, and perhaps the ambiguity of the ending may leave some dissatisfied but, for me, it works. In fact it couldn't really end in any other way.

Still, getting to the end is a wonderful journey. The book is in three parts: 'Polystom - A Love Story', 'Cleonicles - A Murder Story' and, finally, 'The Mudworld - A Ghost Story'. In the first, we are introduced to this rather unlikely universe of bi-planes flying to the moon and atmosphere surrounding all the bodies of this solar system. The technology is a rather whimsical 'steam punk'; the society too, seems rather Victorian. But really, it's not as clear-cut as that. Many characters have Ancient Greek sounding names - such as Polystom's uncle, Cleonicles and, as the story develops, we can see that the society in which they live is more a mixture of the Victorian or Belle Epoque age and Ancient Greece. Polystom is the hereditary Steward of a huge estate populated by servants who, as we slowly discover, are more akin to slaves. At first, this world seems ordered, almost stately, albeit very conservative. But, as we begin to see revealed in the second book, there is an underlying violence and oppression to this neo-feudal society.

The third book brings everything into sharp focus. The end of the Belle Epoque was brought about by war, and similarly war threatens Polystom's ordered society.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice concepts - failing implementation. 12 July 2004
By S. Holm
I have previously read three other (stand alone) novels by Adam Roberts, namely Stone, Salt and On. Well...Polystom makes 4 and I will not be buying a 5th.
I find myself buying his books because the ideas and concepts of this author are brilliant - especially when presented in condensed 'synopsis' form on the Amazon website.
The problem is - I have yet to witness a successful implementation of Adam Roberts' brilliant ideas. Maybe he would benefit from teaming up with a co-writer who could take the stories a step further and actually make me care about events and characters along the way.
I'll rate this one at 3 stars - solely for for the interesting concept.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An average tale of alternative realities 5 Nov 2006
A well written and reasonably enjoyable novel with an imaginative, if slightly derivative, dual reality ending. The problem is that it reads as if Adam Roberts had no idea how the novel would turn out when he started. The denouement when it comes in the form of the two alternative realities, one of which involves a sub-Victorian/Hapsburg alternative future, renders fully a third of the preceding tale redundant or perhaps part of a different novel, which is all slightly frustrating.
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