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The Modern World (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 13 Nov 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (13 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575082216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575082212
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2.2 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 614,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Swainston combines light and dark, gore and grime with cheeky humour. (SFX)

"Swainston paints a world that is vividly rendered, detailed and surprisingly gritty. Imaginative, inventive and wholly thrilling stuff." (SCI FI NOW)

Book Description

The third of the Castle novels from new fantasy sensation Steph Swainston.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Bentley VINE VOICE on 21 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Modern World is the third of the Castle stories and as such would be a bad place for a new reader to start. There is much reliance on readers being familiar with the Shift, the Vermiform and the Circle, and though I would never discourage anyone from starting where ever they liked in the sequence, I think the book is more satisfying when taken as the culmination of the story begun in The Year of Our War.

For newcomers, Steph Swainston's work will appeal to fans of Mervyn Peake, M. John Harrison, Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time and China Mievelle, with its fantasy world given immediacy by all too human characters and a shot of the new weird, through alternate realities entered through drug use, and an implacable insect enemy seemingly borrowed from Robert Heinlein.

In this story we begin with Jant being sent to retrieve Saker's daughter Cyan, who has run away from home to get up to unsavoury acts as teenagers whose fathers are centuries old immortal archers are wont to do. We are immediately reacquainted with Jant's bad past, his self-deception and his weakness but also his sense of humour and the humanity that his faults give him. He thinks he sees far from his lofty vantage point, up in the air on those wings of his, but in many ways he's as deluded as anyone else. But once Cyan is brought back to the fold, the story really stops being about Jant and becomes more about the threat of the insects and the fate of Lightning.

In this book, the threat of the insects becomes the greatest it has ever been. Their behaviour shifts, and a mistake by one of the Circle of Immortals, an act of pride, threatens to allow the Fourlands to finally be overrun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fae Usher on 27 July 2008
Format: Hardcover
Apart from a little too much of the "Insect battles" (and in fact the words Insect and mandibles) this is again another story about yes- more Insects. A little more variation would have been nice, although there was nice twist on the insect plot.

The narration of Jant was again quirky and blunt, punctured with foul language mainly tastefully used. A little less sexually exciting though with no real love plot of any kind, and very lacking in Tern. A couple of chapters when the narration flicked to Lightning were interesting but didn't really work in a one person narrative.

Once the story gets going (takes a while) it's good, and it has some good twists and develops a few characters. A brief trip into the shift, and a tiny bit on drugs, but this is mainly focussing on the word which they live in, and where the immortality comes from. So if you're looking for another sexy/drugs and alcohol fantasy it's not really in that style, but I think we're still looking at a couple more books to come!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. Crook on 7 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'The Modern World' and 'Dangerous Offspring' are the same book, different (better) cover on 'The modern world'. As I found to my cost as I have both of them

That said, this will appeal to those who liked the earlier books and those that didn't are unlikely to find anything in this instalment to change their minds. The writing is as elliptical as ever, with some passages seeming to have no immediate relevance (Lightning relating family trees for two pages springs to mind), but they do make a point and are best not skipped.

The only major change in this book is that Steph. makes a concession to new readers with almost a whole page (shock) of back story, so start with 'The year of our war', or you really won't have much of a clue about what's going on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Sept. 2007
Format: Hardcover
The third and possibly not last part of Steph's epic Castle series (Well its called a trilogy but I've heard that one before and theres so much left to get wrapped up.) As we have come to expect from her work we get a tale that really does throw the reader to the lions from page one and lets face it, those who've read her work before really don't; object to this type of treatment. Fights to the death, sieges, multiple plots, what more does a reader want, this really is the new generation of Fantasy although if you haven't read the first two novels you really are missing out and that is where I would suggest starting if you haven't read them already.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up this book (known in America as Dangerous Offspring) because I'd heard some interesting things about Swainston as an author - people either seemed to love or loathe her - and I decided it was time I made up my own mind. At the very least, she would be an interesting read and as she is part of the `New Weird' movement - apparently - it would give me a better idea of exactly constitutes the New Weird...

Written in first person viewpoint, it gives a slice of the adventures of Jant, a flying immortal messenger. Jant's role is vital as the Empire is engulfed in a stalemated war with an aggressive insect race. The gripping and disturbing Prologue is a flashback when Jant was involved in an ambush many years earlier. If action scenes in grisly detail tick your boxes, then this book is certainly worth consideration. However, it's so much more than that.

If I understand it correctly, the New Weird movement is trying to break away from fantasy worlds stuck in Tolkein-like landscapes, where people move around on horseback and battle elves, dwarves and suchlike. They are supposed to include aspects of our modern existence, like drug-taking, fairly explicit sex with characters not classically heroic, but far more nuanced. Hm. Ok. Somewhere between classical and urban fantasy, then... Why couldn't they say that? In fairness to Swainston, I've read her protests about sub-dividing the genre up too much and it seems that she regards herself as a straightforward fantasy writer.

What is undeniable is that she is an outstanding writer. I didn't start this book with joy in my heart. Being the shallow sort, I'm unduly influenced by book covers - and the UK cover of this one has to qualify as one of the dreariest offerings, ever.
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