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The Jonah Kit (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 18 Apr 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New edition edition (18 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575073896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575073890
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 13.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,750,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Book Description

¿A complex and brilliant master-plot, resolved in cosmos-shaking fashion¿ Christopher Priest

About the Author

Ian Watson (1943 - )Ian Watson was born in England in 1943 and graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, with a first class Honours degree in English Literature. He lectured in English in Tanzania (1965-1967) and Tokyo (1967-1970) before beginning to publish SF with "Roof Garden Under Saturn" for the influential New Worlds magazine in 1969. He became a full-time writer in 1976, following the success of his debut novel The Embedding. His work has been frequently shortlisted for the Hugo and Nebula Awards and he has won the BSFA Award twice. From 1990 to 1991 he worked full-time with Stanley Kubrick on story development for the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence, directed after Kubrick's death by Steven Spielberg; for which he is acknowledged in the credits for Screen Story. Ian Watson lives in Spain.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter Davidson on 28 Sept. 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A fascinating, early sci-fi novel by reknowned British author Ian Watson. This is a mindblowing though somewhat flawed novel that weaves together a multi-stranded narrative structure, centering around communication, perception of language and the origins of our universe and written in a manner that makes it one of the finest examples to emerge from the New Wave movement.
Foremost among the narrative structure, a Soviet (this book was written in 1975) research establishment based at a remote outpost on Sakhalin Island has established a method of imprinting the human consciousness into the brain of a modified, programmed whale, with the future aim of using such programmed whales to provide military intelligence on the locations of US naval shipping and for economic use. In Japan, a 6 year old Russian child, with his minder, has turned up from the above-mentioned Soviet establishment and seemingly appears to possess the mind of a supposedly dead Soviet cosmonaut. High up in the mountains of Mexico a Nobel Prize-winning megalomaniac of a scientist, Paul Hammond, has made the earthshattering discovery that signals received from his radio telescope demonstrate that the Universe is really composed of antimatter particles and that this matter universe is really only a 'ghost' of the real Universe that will eventually collapse in on itself. These revelations eventually come together in a shocking climax that is quite disturbing in its bleak nihilism.
Where this book excels is in its excellent use of characterisation and structure. This is perhaps at the expense of pacing as the first half of the novel is quite slow and appears at times to plod along though admittedly the pace picks up considerably towards the end.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
extremely clever fable 8 Jun. 2005
By peter d pipinis - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Jonah Kit is an agonisingly slow read, but the story is original and fascinating enough to grip you to the end. The science is not very convincing, which is distracting, until you realise this is not a realistic SF novel, but an extremely clever fable.

Scientists have discovered God created the universe, whose reality was then pulled into some other dimension, leaving ours a false, unreal shadow. This threatens the most basic need of conscious beings to feel they belong to a real world, which in turn threatens the very existence of everything, because what the 'intelligent' majority believes literally becomes the reality for all.

Whales have their own philosophy, their own mystical gatherings, and are evolving (they sense) into beings that will in the far future comprehend the 'whole' truth. A man's consciousness has been grafted onto an individual whale's - the 'Jonah' of the title. Being inside the mind of this not-man/not-whale as it awakens and adjusts to its entirely new consciousness and nature is exhilarating.

Civilization is disintegrating quickly because humanity has chosen to believe in the unreality of everything as proven by science. In an attempt to bring back some sanity the whales are sent - via Jonah - the news that nothing exists. Their much older and wholly integrated understanding is now our only hope for survival - if they can take in the scientific proof and reject or ignore it.

The whales represent the best, most natural and glorious side of ourselves - with the added emotional impact of creaturely innocence. Their reaction to the beliefs of humanity shows us where we are bound when, beguiled and misled by 'thinking', we place abstractions above our instinctual and essential connection with nature.

A good, though slight novel, that made me want to immediately read more of Ian Watson's work.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beached 27 Sept. 2005
By JR Dunn - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It can be taken as a rule of thumb in SF that the boys who can handle the big concepts can't do much else. Examples include Greg Egan, Greg Bear... Well, there may be a rule of thumb about Gregs too, but here comes an Ian to get us back on track.

"The Jonah Kit" is the 'communication with cetaceans' riff on steroids. There's not much of storyline, merely scenes designed to present data, there are no characters, only behavioral tics with names. But those concepts! The first, and most spectacular, is the discovery, through a clever cosmological means I haven't encountered elsewhere, that our universe is a mere reflection of the authentic item, that we're the waterboys of existence, forever cut off from the real game. The second is what the cetaceans do when this fact is communicated to them. They commit mass suicide, every last whale, dolphin, and orca in the deep blue beaching itself in utter existential despair.

Now you may say this makes little sense, and you'd get no argument from me. (The human response is nearly as silly. There is, after all, nothing new in the concept of alienation. Augustine wrote about it in the 5th century, the Greeks even earlier. Most people have developed mechanisms to cope.) But I'd still be inclined to recommend it, if only to a limited audience who can appreciate Watson's ability to sling those concepts.

There's still all those poor dead whales, though, which may well, and understandably, put some people off. Watson has a rep as a tower of humanism. Like many such, he exhibits a streak of pure cruelty evident in much of his work, such as the fate of the protagonist of "The Martian Inca", or the deformed child in "The Embedding". I'm sure there's some rule of thumb that can be derived from that too, if I were to take the time to formulate it.
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