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The Harvest [Mass Market Paperback]

Robert Charles Wilson
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

May 1994
When humans are offered immortality by alien travellers, only one in 10,000 says no. Mat Wheeler, an Oregon doctor, refuses and his decision cuts him off from all those he cares for. On the ultimate day, Wheeler persuades some of the newly-immortalized to remain on Earth and guard the helpless.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (Mm); Reprint edition (May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553292218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553292213
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 10.8 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,227,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different invasion 14 July 2011
By SonicQuack VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Wilson takes an unique approach to contact in The Harvest, although the title is somewhat of a clue. The initial third is laden with suspense as the characters are developed and this is achieved with a modicum of science. In fact it's the lack of any knowledge which makes it unnerving. Once it starts to pick up pace it shrugs off the suspense and tries to offer credible action and develops a more scientific approach. Whilst it tries to not to play its cards it fails to juggle all of these approaches and loses its way. The characters become unfocused and the story meanders. It's interesting enough to create a desire to see it through, however the latter half is poor in comparison to the moody and tense first half. The Harvest is an interesting and unusual piece of science fiction, refusing to use familiar alien contact plot lines and that bravery should be noted.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wilson does a good job with this story. 20 Sep 2004
By John Howard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've read a few other books by Wilson, and I liked them all, so when I saw this one, I was hoping this would be good too. I was not disappointed. Wilson does a good job of telling a difficult story.

The most impressive thing about this story, I think, is that it doesn't really make a lot of judgements. The story focuses on people who decline the Travellers offer of immortality, but it doesn't give the impression that they are any better than those who accepted the offer. It also doesn't fall into the boring cliche of the benevolent aliens who save us from ourselves. It does a good job of presenting both sides without making any assumptions about which is right or wrong, or whether either is. This makes for a much more enjoyable story, and I think that is what I like most about Wilson's books overall, is his ability to stay away from tired cliches or predictable endings.

The only thing that really bothered me about this story was the way the people ascended to the "Greater World" leaving only their skins behind. I wondered why only their skins would be left behind, I didn't get the impression that they needed a physical body at all in the Greater World, so why wouldn't the whole thing be left behind? It seems that t was just the skin only for purposes of dramatic effect for the story, which I thought was a little lazy. But that was a fairly minor point, overall, it's a good story, with good characters that you could really feel for having to make tough decisions in an incomprehensible situation.

I will continue to look for more by Wilson, as he is becoming one of my favorite authors, and this book is definitely worth reading if you can find it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Harvest 25 Feb 2000
By Heidi E. Fronheiser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Why are all the best books out of print? And why didn't this man get some sort of award for this book? It was an old topic explored in an original way. I read this on a road trip from Ohio to Florida, and I will tell you, I hated when I had to take my turn driving. I could not get my mind off of this book from page one until the end. What an excellent storyteller this author is!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good One- If you can find it 24 Sep 2004
By furioustyle77 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Like RCW's more recent "The Chronoliths", "The Harvest" explores how regular people deal with cataclismic changes to planet Earth, this time in the form of first contact with aliens.

The purpose of the alien visitation is left a little unclear; are they truly benevolent in offering humanity eternal life? Or is it a bait-and-switch, a 'harvesting' of all intelligent life on Earth? Wilson rightly avoids giving us all the answers, leaving higher meanings to the imagination of the reader. Well done.

Wilson has many strengths as a writer, all of which are on display here: Very realistic characters, some clever ideas, low sentimentality and avoidance of smarmy cliches, and finally, an intelligent yet quick writing style. I plowed through this book.

I especially liked the way the aliens made contact with us humans. It's not what you would expect, but it is very easy to believe.

If you like the more recent Wilson books, this one is worth tracking down.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secular Rapture? 26 Jan 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I loved this book. A kind of "Childhood's End" and secularized Christian Rapture rolled into one. The author writes like Wyndham or Wells, in that the narrator is part of the action but also dispassionately observing the flow. The protagonist of course wishes to have none of it. While everyone has answered the Big Question of immortality in the affirmative, he is skeptical of apotheosis and throws in his lot on the side of his own mortality. In the end, immortality is at a price, assimilation. The book casts a spell of mystery over the reader in that the aliens and their purpose is never revealed. One wonders if our species is really gullable to the point that any confidence artist coming down the celestial highway pedaling immortality in the form of the savior would make us sell our souls for it. Is the novel a satire then of our moral turpitude or a call to existential redemption? I wish the author would give us more wonderful stories.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilson dodges the third act letdown! 13 Jun 2010
By Josh Mauthe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've come to love Robert Charles Wilson's books for their complex and thought-provoking conceits; even though almost each one to date has had a whimper of a third act, Wilson's ideas provoke meditations on faith, humanity's place in the cosmos, the nature of the universe, all while creating rich and intriguing characters. So it's a joy to finally find a Wilson book with a great conclusion, one that both expands the themes of the book and yet doesn't feel like an anticlimax. The Harvest creates a world where humanity is offered a choice: live forever but cease to be human, or remain human but face eventual (natural) death. In a neat choice, Wilson follows those who choose to remain, and the result grapples with themes no less epic than religion, the nature of God, and what it means to be human. Simultaneously, he creates a quietly apocalyptic novel, one that builds naturally to a climax that seems completely natural and subtly beautiful. This is what great science fiction is all about, and I can't recommend this enough to anyone up for some challenging ideas wrapped in a deceptively simple science fiction novel.
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