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The Mount [Paperback]

Carol Emshwiller
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 Mar 2005
* Philip K. Dick Award Winner * Best of the Year: Locus, Village Voice, San Francisco Chronicle, Book Magazine * Nominated for the Impac Award Charley is an athlete. He wants to grow up to be the fastest runner in the world, like his father. He wants to be painted crossing the finishing line, in his racing silks, with a medal around his neck. Charley lives in a stable. He isn't a runner, he's a mount. He belongs to a Hoot: The Hoots are alien invaders. Charley hasn't seen his mother for years, and his father is hiding out in the mountains somewhere, with the other Free Humans. The Hoots own the world, but the humans want it back. Charley knows how to be a good mount, but now he's going to have to learn how to be a human being. "I've been a fan of Carol Emshwiller's since the wonderful Carmen Dog. The Mount is a terrific novel, at once an adventure story and a meditation on the psychology of freedom and slavery. It's literally haunting (days after finishing it, I still think about all the terrible poetry of the Hoot/Sam relationship) and hypnotic. I'm honored to have gotten an early look at it." -Glen David Gold "Carol Emshwiller's The Mount is a wicked book. Like Harlan Ellison's darkest visions, Emshwiller writes in a voice that reminds us of the golden season when speculative fiction was daring and unsettling. Dystopian, weird, comedic as if the Marquis de Sade had joined Monty Python, and ultimately scary, The Mount takes us deep into another reality. Our world suddenly seems wrought with terrible ironies and a severe kind of beauty. When we are the mounts, who-or what-is riding us? -Luis Alberto Urrea "We are all Mounts and so should read this book like an instruction manual that could help save our lives. That it is also a beautiful funny novel is the usual bonus you get by reading Carol Emshwiller. She always writes them that way." -Kim Stanley Robinson "This novel is like a tesseract, I started it and thought, ah, I see what she's doing. But then the dimensions unfolded and somehow it ended up being about so much more." -Maureen F. McHugh "The Mount is so extraordinary as to be unpraiseable by a mortal such as I. I had to keep putting it down because it was so disturbing then picking it up because it was so amazing. A postmodernist would call it The Eros of Hegemony, but I'm no postmodernist. Nearly every sentence is simultaneously hilarious, prophetic, and disturbing. This person needs to be really, really famous." -Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights Bookstore "Brilliantly conceived and painfully acute in its delineation of the complex relationships between masters and slaves, pets and owners, the served and the serving, this poetic, funny and above all humane novel deserves to be read and cherished as a fundamental fable for our material-minded times." -Publishers Weekly "Adult/High School - This veteran science-fiction writer is known for original plots and characters, and her latest novel does not disappoint, offering an extraordinary, utterly alien, and thoroughly convincing culture set in the not-too-distant future. Emshwiller brings readers immediately into the action, gradually revealing the takeover of Earth by the Hoots, otherworldly beings with superior intelligence and technology. Humans have become the Hoots' "mounts," and, in the case of the superior Seattle bloodline, valuable racing stock. Most mounts are well off, as the Hoots constantly remind them, and treated kindly by affectionate owners who use punishment poles as rarely as possible. No one agrees more than principal narrator Charley, a privileged young Seattle whose rider-in-training will someday rule the world. The adolescent mount's dream is of bringing honor to his beloved Little Master by becoming a great champion like Beauty, his sire, whose portrait decorates many Hoot walls. When Charley learns that his father now leads the renegade bands called Wilds, he and Little Master flee. This complex and compelling blend of tantalizing themes offers numerous possibilities for speculation and discussion, whether among friends or in the classroom." -School Library Journal "Emshwiller's prose is beautiful" -Laura Miller, Salon "The Mount is a brilliant book. But be warned: It takes root in the mind and unleashes aftershocks at inopportune moments." -The Women's Review of Books "Carol Emshwiller has been writing fantasy, speculative and science fiction for many years; she has a dedicated cult following and has been an influence on a number of today's top writers...it is very easy to fall into the rhythm of Emshwiller's poetic and smooth sentences." -Review of Contemporary Fiction "Emshwiller's themes-the allure of submission, the temptations of complicity, the perverse nature of compassion-are not usual fare in novels of resistance and revolt, and her strikingly imaginative novel continues to surpass our expectations to the very last page." -The Philadelphia Inquirer "Both fantastical and unnerving in its familiarity. And like her work in romance and westerns, its genre-twisting plot resists easy classification." -The Village Voice "Emshwiller uses a deceptively simple narrative voice that gives The Mount the style of a young-adult novel. But there's much going on beneath the surface of this narrative, including oblique flashes of humor and artfully articulated moments of psychological insight. The Mount emerges as one of the season's unexpected small pleasures." -San Francisco Chronicle "A memorable alien-invasion scenario, a wild adventure, and a reflection on the dynamics of freedom and slavery." -Booklist "A brilliant piece of work." -Bookslut "...a beautifully written allegorical tale full of hope that even the most unenlightened souls can shrug off the bonds of internalized oppression and finally see the light." -BookPage "A fable/fantasy/cautionary tale along the lines of, say, Animal Farm. It's the story of Charlie, a preadolescent human who's being used as a horse by shoulder-riding alien invaders known as Hoots. Charlie wants nothing more than to become a great Mount, a loyal slave and servant, until his father, a renegade Mount who has fled from the Hoots and now lives in the mountains, comes to take him away. Like so much of Emshwiller's work, The Mount asks difficult questions-in this case, What is freedom? The issue is particularly appropriate at a time when "freedom" in America is increasingly defined as "security"-freedom from uncertainty, freedom from fear, freedom from want. All of which is, in the end, not really freedom at all."-Time Out New York "In a recent interview with Science Fiction Weekly, Ursula Le Guin called Emshwiller "the most unappreciated great writer we've got." The Mount proves Le Guin right...If Emshwiller is not already on your top bookshelf, The Mount will put her there." -Rambles Carol Emshwiller's stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Century, Scifiction, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, TriQuarterly, Transatlantic Review, New Directions, Orbit, Epoch, The Voice Literary Supplement, Omni, Crank!, Confrontation, Trampoline, McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, and many other anthologies and magazines. Carol is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and has been awarded an NEA grant, a New York State Creative Artists Public Service grant, a New York State
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Firebird; Reprint edition (17 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142403024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142403020
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 10.8 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 561,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Carol Emshwiller is the author of the collections Report to the Men's Club, The Start of the End of it All, Verging on the Pertinent, Joy in Our Cause, and I Live With You, and the novels The Mount, Carmen Dog, Ledoyt, and Leaping Man Hill. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Humans Under The Yoke 24 Aug 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Emshwiller paints a seemingly naïve and simplistic vision of Humanity living in servitude under the rule of the Hoots; small, fairly immobile aliens who have taken control of the Earth. The Hoots have eyes on the sides of their heads, giving them virtually 360 degree vision, very strong hands and weak legs, which is why humans are used as mounts, to carry them about their daily business.
Indeed, Hoots breed humans in much the way that we breed horses today, producing different strains for different functions. Tennessees are generally thin and fast, and do well in racing while Seattles (like our hero, Smiley) are darker, stockier and stronger.
Smiley is a prime Seattle and has been bonded as the mount to his little Master, his most Excellent Excellency, the future Ruler-of-us-all.
Following a raid by wild humans, Smiley (or Charley as his human name is) is unwillingly rescued by his father, Heron, and taken - along with his Little Master - to live in the wild, where the relationship between Hoot and Mount inevitably begins to change.
Emshwiller provides an interesting afterword on the inside back cover in which she explains her process of writing and the impetus for the novel, which was a study of the relationships between predator and prey.
The idea of humans as slaves or pets of alien masters is not a new one, since the idea stretches from `War of The Worlds' in which humans are destined to be foodstock for the Martians to the not dissimilar `Tripods' trilogy by John Christopher, and beyond. `The Puppies of Terra' by Thomas M Disch sees humans as pets to grotesque alien masters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and believable 12 Aug 2014
By biblia
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are no plot reveals in this review, because I don't want to spoil it for you! I finished this book recently and it really does haunt me with the voices of the main characters and the interesting premise. Young Charley speaks with an authentic voice for his age and situation, someone who has no concept of freedom and who only wants to please and excel in his rôle, and the author's made it possible to relate well to, and even sympathise with, the aliens, and especially the infant who is so important to Charley. You learn only gradually how such puny creatures enslaved humanity, and the casual delivery of the information makes easy to believe. There's a little switching time periods, and certainly no sense that the book is little more than the shallow sequence of events you sometimes get in fiction; the treatment is reflective. There's some poignant insights here into many relationships: father and son, human and animal, slave and master. A great read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Multi-Faceted Vision of the Future 14 Oct 2002
By Jack M. Walter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Rather than write another synopsis of the novel, I would instead comment on the number of different themes which present themselves in this incredibly imaginative tale. I see themes of Whites and Black slavery, the relationships between parents and children, the universal process of coming to adulthood, the idea of dominance and submission in relationships, and our treatment of the other creatures on this earth which we call "animals." If we were not the "dominant" species on this planet, would we be treated like the mounts in this story? I believe that we would. And I wonder about something else: If horses could speak, what would they tell us? This is a disturbing story which does what all great literature does. It changes us forever.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So original and really good! (Okay, so I'm bad at titles...) 27 April 2004
By R.K.M. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Woah. Read this whole book on a six-hour flight. Very different from what I expected. It's really good. Carol Emshwiller (the author) really gets inside the heads of her characters. The tale is told mostly from the point of view of Charley, a teenage boy who lives in a world where humans serve as steeds for a ruling class of weak-legged aliens that like to ride around on our shoulders. It's more about the bond between young Charley and an infant alien, the next in line to the alien throne, as they learn together about what it means to live under this current symbiotic(?) system.
Ms. Emshwiller's grasp of psychology is amazing. I especially loved it when she would step outside of Charley's head and spend a chapter from an alien's point of view, or from a different human. The way that she managed to explain the entire society in the first chapter without ever really seeming to lay it on with the exposition. She's a master. I'm definitely going to have to hunt down more of her work.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent gift for a reading kid. 5 Jan 2003
By Dr. Steve Irving - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a science fiction/young adult novel told from the point of view of 11 year old Charlie.
The story is set in a society where Earth has been colonized by Hoots, who breed, ride and race tame humans. Charlie, a well-conformed Seattle, the strongest and best looking of the human breeds, is chosen as the mount for Little Master, The-Future-Ruler-Of-Us-All.
The story -- a good coming-of-age story on its own fictional merits -- also explores the nature of slavery without pomposity, without simplistic proclamation as Charlie sheds slavery as he also sheds childhood -- both with some regret. The coming-of-age elements (coming to terms with his father, searching for a missing mother, finding a young-adolescent place for himself in terms of family and in terms of a role in society) are beautifully plotted. The fantasy element is imaginative.
A recommendation. Especially if you have a smart 12 year old to read it with.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful look at master/slave relationships 13 Jun 2006
By Richard R. Horton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Mount, unlike any Carol Emshwiller's previous novels, is fairly straightforward science fiction. In simplest terms, it tells of a revolution against alien invaders. These invaders, called "Hoots", are physically weak and small, but over generations they have bred humans to serve them as "Mounts". The humans, then, become essentially pets to the aliens, treated a great deal like horses are treated by present-day humans. Thus the novel explores, quite thoughtfully, human/pet relationships, master/slave relationships, and the question of freedom versus comfort.

There are a few different viewpoint characters, but the story is mainly told through the eye of Charley, an especially prized young Mount who is the property of the son of a very high-ranking Hoot. Charley is extremely proud, to the point of vanity, of his abilities as a Mount. And his relationship with his Hoot, who he calls "Little Master", is complex but largely loving. Loving, though, in an almost creepy Master-Slave fashion. Charley, it turns out, is the son of a rebellious human, who has gone off to live in the wilderness, and who plots to free all humans, but particularly his son. The novel's main action turns on the initial success of this scheme, and then on the ambiguous results. Charley is by no means sure that freedom is all it's cracked up to be, and moreover he misses his "Little Master". He's also jealous of his father's relationship with a woman not his mother -- his mother, of course, being basically a brood mare chosen by the Hoots.

The plot twists a couple of times from there, coming to a moving, thoughtful, and balanced resolution, if not exactly a terribly original one. The storytelling is clear and interesting. The age of the protagonist, the theme, and the relatively simple storytelling make this novel, I would think, appealing to younger readers, but it certainly will satisfy adults as well.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Light Look at Slavery 28 Dec 2004
By Silas Traitor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In the wake of a small-scale revolt, a human Mount and his Hoot Host, the Future-Ruler-Of-Us-All, learn together what it is to be free. The focus of the story rests on the transformation of young Smiley - a well-conformed Mount who thinks only of pleasing his Host - into something more human. Told from Smiley's juvenile perspective, Emshwiller shows us his evolving thought patterns, starting with his unsympathetic opinion of his own kind, and a stubborn unwillingness to even imagine a life outside of slavery. The relationship between Hoot and Mount, though queer at first, quickly becomes familiar; it is easy to see ourselves on both sides of the equation. Written for a younger audience, it was a short and easy read, but none the less significant for it. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to younger fans of sci-fi and fantasy.
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