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Red Dust [Paperback]

Paul McAuley
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 6.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

3 Sep 2009

Mars, 600 years in the future, is dying.

Five hundred years after the Chinese conquered the Red Planet, the great work of terraforming is failing. The human-machine Consensus of Earth had persuaded the AI Emperor to follow the Golden Path into a vast virtual reality universe, leaving behind an ungoverned planet swept by hunger riots and the beginnings of civil war.

Enter Wei Lee, a lowly itinerant agricultural technician: rock 'n' roll fan, dupe, holy fool - and unlikely Messiah. After stumbling on an anarchist pilot hiding near the wreckage of her spacecraft, he's drawn into a revolutionary plot that has been spinning for decades. With the help of a ghost, the broadcasts of the King of the Cats, a Yankee yak herder, and a little Girl God, Lee travels across the badlands, swampy waterways and vast dust seas to a showdown at the summit of the biggest volcano in the Solar System. Not even the God-like Consensus can predict the outcome of his struggle to define his own destiny . . .

Epic in scope, Red Dust's spectacular, fast-paced story brilliantly brings to life the planet that has captured our imagination like no other.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; paperback / softback edition (3 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575086602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575086609
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 563,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm the author of more than twenty books, including science-fiction, thriller, and crime novels, several collections of short stories, a Doctor Who novella, and an anthology of stories about popular music, which I co-edited with Kim Newman. My fiction has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell award, the Sidewise Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the British Fantasy Award for best short story.

Before I went over to the dark side and became a full-time writer, I worked as a research biologist in various universities, including Oxford and UCLA, and for six years was a lecturer in botany at St Andrews University. My chief research interest was symbioses between unicellular algae and coelenterates, including green hydra, sea anemones, and reef-forming corals. I'm still a huge fan of all things to do with science, and spend too much time tweeting about weird and wonderful stuff as UnlikelyWorlds; Time magazine listed me as one of their top 140 most interesting tweeters in 2013.

I live in North London, and haven't yet walked down every street in the A-Z. But I'm trying.

Product Description

Book Description

An SF odyssey: myth, circumstance and a viral kiss alter the life-path of Wei Lee from mortal man to a reluctant deity - the newly anointed saviour of the Red Planet.

About the Author

Paul McAuley's first novel won the PHILIP K. DICK AWARD and he has gone on to win almost all of the major awards in the field. For many years a research biologist, he now writes full-time. He lives in London. You can find his blog at: http://www.unlikelyworlds.blogspot.com.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wandering tour of an interesting world 14 Dec 2009
By Moom
Format:Paperback
I bought this book years ago, and only recently stumbled across it on Amazon - and I was a bit surprised at the pummeling it seems to be taking. I've always had a soft spot for this novel. So what if it's 'just a quest novel' (whatever that means)? It's pacy, and fun. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it can ruin stuff too; looking back, I recognize that the plot meanders, and the ending has a whiff of a deus ex machina about it, but at the time I really didn't notice. And the reason I didn't notice that the journey meandered was this: I was too busy looking out the window. I was drinking in the view of the book's real star: Mars like you've never seen it, where the human spirit stirs against the combined forces of a bitter struggle for survival, the corrupt vestiges of Chinese communism, and the smothering statism imposed by humanity's children. Don't get me wrong - there are novels where the backdrop is everything, and the characters and plot waft in the breeze, so flimsy are they. But this is not that novel. This is more like a Hollywood blockbuster - the characters are a bit over the top, the plot is kinda crazy, but you can really see where they blew the budget.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is a novel which differentiates itself from the crop of Martian sci-fi that pervaded the 1990's. Different could been seen as a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view; if you are expecting a detailed chronicle of Man's colonization of the Red Planet in the vein of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, then you might be disappointed. This has always been a book which divides opinion: some readers find it inaccessible, others too experimental, a fair few people say its just to slow in getting anywhere. I disagree. McCauley does a fine job here conveying the complexities of his imagined future Mars, but as usual he doesn't coddle the reader, this is a book you have to tough out! A book that will both punish and reward you at the same time, with dense detail and a playful hybrid style, seeming to fuse both fantasy and science fiction.

Red Dust is set on a far future Mars dominated predominantly by the Han Chinese, the Tibetans are an underclass who labored for generations to make Mars more like Earth, while the "Yankees" have developed into a nomadic people who sail across seas of dust; the "Sky Roaders" want to see the Mars terraforming project finished and are outlawed for their beliefs. Earth is depopulated and its environment is gradually reverting back to its pre-human condition, all under the supervision of The Consensus, who posses high technology which they use to parley favor with the rulers of Mars. "The Ten Thousand Years" as they are know, have halted the planets terraformation under the demand of missionaries from The Consensus, called "Conchie's".
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5.0 out of 5 stars good read 30 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent read and well worth the purchase.

Great story and full of action and thrills. Real and gritty that encompasses the reality and horror of war.

Cannot recommend enough.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review 27 Mar 2007
By A. J. Cull VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Despite the science fiction setting Red Dust is basically a quest, with hero Wei Lee seeking to achieve his destiny and discover what happened to his long-lost parents. The story takes place on a Mars colonised by the Chinese, and McAuley depicts this transplanted oriental milieu with style and considerable gusto. There are some striking scenes (Matrix-like fights and Yankee whalers hunting on seas of dust) yet there is not much depth to this imagined world, and Wei Lee is rather too passive to be a convincing hero. Faults notwithstanding, I enjoyed Red Dust and found it an entertaining read.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very messy misfire 18 Dec 2003
By Jane Aland VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Putting the shared universe of his first 3 novels behind him, Paul McAuley's first standalone novel unfortunately turns out to be a badly structured mess. It's a tale of revolution on a partially terraformed Mars, seen through the eyes of itinerant worker Wei Lee. There are plenty of interesting ideas and moments in this book, but they completely fail to come together into a satisfactory whole. The book flies past virtual reality afterlife, Elvis rescued by aliens, Western pastiche, sand ray hunting and plenty more without ever exploring in depth what this world of Mars is like. It becomes impossible to have any feeling for the lead character or interest in his story - as with the lowest form of fantasy quest tales it becomes clear that Wei is the 'Chosen One' who can bring about revolution on Mars. Wei is never in charge of his own destiny; he's always journeying at the behest of shadowy characters that never quite reveal their intentions. A series of encounters with a mysterious assassin seems to be trying to add some energy to the proceedings, but as it soon becomes clear that these encounters will all fizzle out until a final showdown these set pieces quickly become boring.
A total lack of focus here makes Red Dust McAuley's weakest novel to date - a novel with a plot difficult to understand and characters impossible to like.
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