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3.7 out of 5 stars6
3.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 May 2014
This is a marvelous story of simultaneous and converging conspiracies and chance events, the origin, life and fate of Roderick Wood, robot, being the central theme running throughout.

The story is very much dialogue driven, with character development and interaction taking precidence over, I felt, plotlines, world building etc. but this creates a fantastic pace and lends real page turning impetus to the progress of the storyline. In some ways I was disappointed with the finish, it seemed to end a little abruptly considering how the story had progressed to that point but it did feature solid conclusions for each of the characters which had been introduced throughout, this is the case with both of the books which make up this single volume.

The book answers many of the questions which have haunted science fiction about why the hoped for "tommorrow" never arrived, doing so well through the dialogue and sequencing of chance events and accidents but also providing summation points which allow a kind of "recap" or "clarification" of the suspiscions anyone would have from reading up to that point. I liked this because between times the reader is allowed to do their own thinking and figure out what is happening but isnt left wondering entirely as to what was happening. There isnt really any surplus content but there are points at which you may be tempted to skip blocks of dialogue from parties or other scenes in which people are talking about intellectual diversions or academic subjects.

Roderick himself is "born" as a consequence of a scam ran by a high ranking government official who has been misappropriating funds, the resulting cover up succeeds in covering up his existence for a time too, although attempts to destroy him and others involved in his development are bungled repeatedly or ruined by chance and accident. This introduces the theme of conspiracy and technological repression, there's good consideration of no matter how powerful and sophisticated a conspiracy may be that it is still subject to chance, caprice and the individual prejudice or accident effecting key players in its operation. Roderick himself develops and investigates the human condition throughout the book, appearing as the most human of all most of the time, discovers just what has happened and how his has benefited from the competition and conflict between government and private corporations, both equally reprehensible, amoral and pursuing their ends with murderous singularity of purpose.

This is a very good book, a real page turner, with characters you are likely to remember for a long time, I would consider it optimistic sci fi of a sort, despite the overwhelming alienation, perfidious plotting etc. and being in many ways dystopian until the conclusion its main protagonist shows what a life is worth and what can be made of life despite its difficulties.
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on 15 September 2013
Slight gripe here - don't get me wrong, I'm glad to get this book which has been difficult to find. But the picture above is the old cover from the original Gollancz SF Masterworks run (numbered, and with the black spines) - the book you're getting here is the new print with the yellow spines and the 'muted' front cover art. I'm collecting the series and wish it's been clearer which print I was getting.

Won't stop me enjoying the story though, I'm sure!
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on 30 November 2001
The Complete Roderick brings together for the two previous collections of Roderick stories. From the earliest stages, where Roderick is a talking program of questionable sentience, through his childhood as a treaded box which becomes fixated by TV, his maturity and eventual departure into the world as a walking android which can pass for human, we follow the stories of Roderick, his creators, his "parents", schoolfriends, colleagues and assorted misfits, along with the tale of a shadowy goverment conspiracy to prevent the existence of Roderick and his kind. Fortunately, this conspiracy is about as effective as most government organisations and Roderick continues to grow and learn. And I think we learn a lot about ourselves as we learn about him.
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on 2 December 2001
There is nobody smarter or funnier than Sladek and this, with Bayley's Soul of the Robot, remains the finest of treatments of artificial intelligence questioning its own identity and the mores of the society around it. It has a real feel of Smollett in its sardonic relish for human folly. It is a genuine classic, in anyone's terms, and I am so grateful it's back in print so that I can recommend it to EVERYONE. You, too, will fall in love with John Sladek's superior humour.
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on 25 January 2002
The two Roderick books are more about parody than science fiction, and in the main are all the better for it. The first book in particular is witty, well-observed and often poignant.
However, I found that some way into the second book -- Roderick at Random -- Sladek loses touch with the story (and with Roderick) while the parody becomes increasingly dominant and heavy-handed. It's only towards the end of the book that he seems to remember that there's supposed to be a story going on, and Roderick reappears as more than just a vague mention at the start of each chapter.
That said, very well worth the read, even if the second book is a bit heavy going at times.
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on 23 May 2006
Don't know how the other reviewers could give their recommendations. i read a lot of SF and this was just garbage.

Somehow I got through the first book but had to give up half way through the second because it was totally numbing. I don't know how this can be called SF.
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