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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, moving, thought provoking
In this poetical novel, Winterson provides three interlinked stories, the love affair between a woman and an artificial lifeform on a dying planet seeking an exodus to a new world, the tale of cabin boy abandoned on a Pacfic Island in 1774, and a woman in a near future post apocalyptic world developing an artificial intelligence.

Unsurprisingly, Winterson's...
Published on 17 Dec 2007 by P. G. Harris

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An Awful Attempt at Speculative Fiction
This book strikes me as a very good example of a mainstream "literary" fiction writer experimenting with genre, and failing horribly. Winterson is a highly respected, award-winning English author, and many friends of mine love her writing. However, this foray into speculative fiction ventures into thematic territory (namely the essentially destructive nature of humanity,...
Published on 6 May 2012 by A. Ross


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An Awful Attempt at Speculative Fiction, 6 May 2012
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Stone Gods (Paperback)
This book strikes me as a very good example of a mainstream "literary" fiction writer experimenting with genre, and failing horribly. Winterson is a highly respected, award-winning English author, and many friends of mine love her writing. However, this foray into speculative fiction ventures into thematic territory (namely the essentially destructive nature of humanity, both with regards to each other and the natural world) that's been deeply explored, and displays all the traits of the worst kind of strident, polemical fiction. So, while certain elements and certain scenes work fairly well, the book is really quite a chore to slog though. Had I not been reading it for my book club, I probably would have left it unfinished after the first 40-50 pages, and in our discussion, I learned that I was not the only one to feel that way. Indeed, none of us eight readers found it to be a book we could recommend to others -- even Winterson fans (of which our group has two).

The book is divided into three sections: the first takes place largely on another planet during the time dinosaurs roamed the earth, the second on Easter Island circa 1774, and the third in some relatively near-future post-World War 3 England. A version of the same heroine (with the groan-inducing name of Billie Crusoe) inhabits all three stories, and serves as an authorial proxy, a voice of conscience whose tedious inner thoughts are rendered in italics. The first story is somewhat reminiscent of the film Idiocracy, spinning a few contemporary Western cultural trends out to their extremes (such as the obsession with youth leading people to "fix" their age at a teenage level), in it, Billie is sent as part of a mission to test a promising planet for colonization. The second finds a cabin boy sailing with Captain Cook marooned on Easter Island and witness to the disintegration of the island's society. The final story is a near-future post-WWIII story following Billie as she steals a prototype artificial intelligence robot owned by the MORE corporation, which now runs the world (or at least, what we can see of it).

None of the scenarios in the book feel fresh, the time-hopping triptych narrative structure feels like a poor-person's version of Cloud Atlas, and Winterson's writing style is both pretentious and boring. Every now and then there's a nice detail, or interesting minor idea, but the book is a dud. Of course, if you've never read any speculative fiction (aka "science fiction"), I suppose you might find it more appealing than I did.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, moving, thought provoking, 17 Dec 2007
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Stone Gods (Hardcover)
In this poetical novel, Winterson provides three interlinked stories, the love affair between a woman and an artificial lifeform on a dying planet seeking an exodus to a new world, the tale of cabin boy abandoned on a Pacfic Island in 1774, and a woman in a near future post apocalyptic world developing an artificial intelligence.

Unsurprisingly, Winterson's foray into science fiction isn't in the "Captain Zorg shoots the Meequons" school. This is science fiction as a critique of contemporary society in the mold of Shelley's Frankenstein or Huxley's Brave New World.

The fundamental theme of the novel is an environmental one, that the human race is destined to destroy its surroundings, and will do that from the micro scale of an island to the macro of a planet. Within this central theme there are many other musings, it being our fate not to learn from our mistakes as a society or personally, the interplay of masculinity and femininity, global politics - the interrelation of capitalism, post soviet russia and the islamic world, even the relative merits (and evils) of state and corporate monopolies.

In style the first story feels like the film "Brazil", the second like any number of south sea adventures, the third has elements of "Mad Max".

So is it recommended ? Absolutely. The prose style is unique, but always gripping, there are some laugh out loud moments, and at times it had me close to tears.

In summary - brilliant but barking mad - what else would you expect from Winterson?
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful if a bit sentimental, 18 Feb 2008
By 
Louise Bostock (Carmine Superiore, Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Stone Gods (Hardcover)
If you're thinking about buying this book, you're going to get no help at all in your decision-making from its jacket. This book sports not a single review quotation. Not on the front cover nor on the back cover. Not in support of the blurb on the front flap nor after the biography on the back flap. And not on any of the eight blank pages at the end of the book that make you think there'll be another twist to the story when in fact it's finished (don't you just hate that?).

Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods needs, it seems, no introduction, no recommendation, no testimonial. Jeanette Winterson is Literature, so the newspaper reviewers tell me. They also tell me that this story belongs to that category known as sci-fi. Does it? That's news to me. I don't do sci-fi. If it is sci-fi, it's in the tradition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale rather than Frank Herbert's Dune.

The novel comes in three parts. Three apocalyptic scenarios. The same story; the story of how the human race can bring about its environment's complete destruction, without thinking about it until it's too late. Scary stuff. Depressing stuff too.

There are also three love stories - all rather too sentimental for my taste. Too many long sentences weaving poetically around at 11 at night (the only time this tired mother-of-two gets to read) do me no good at all. But then there are two 'hidden' love stories - the love a tiny baby has for its mother and the love we all have for Earth, our home - which really began to hit some vein of truth.

Although this will not rate as my favourite book of all time, it did make me think. About climate change, about rampant consumerism and where it might lead us. About what it would take to shake the West out of its blind adoration of the great god Economic Growth, and about what might happen if it's already too late. It also got me thinking about extinction. Not just the extinction of the dinosaurs, nor of hundreds of species of plants and animals each day, but my own extinction, and by extension the extinction of the planet. It made me feel what it might be like to know for certain there is no hope. No life after death. No new blue planet to migrate to in silver spaceships when we're done destroying this one.

And the book made me cry.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lemmings?, 22 July 2008
By 
bohobozo - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Stone Gods (Paperback)
Jeanette Winterson - you either love her writing or you don't - very few will fall between.
The Stone Gods
I am hooked on this book, as I am `The Passion' and Wolfe's `Orlando'.
It's a very accessible read with an abundance of ideas.
Stories within a story - a fiction ripping through time and space - it's a projection of today's realities giving a plausible prediction of tomorrow's possibilities - with an imaginary interlude, a rewrite of the past.

Wide ranging, far reaching - thought provoking.
Essentially the theme is of mankind's appetite for destruction - fueled by our lust for material possession, our collective habitual greed, our addiction to consume.
Our ability to read the future and do absolutely nothing - except accelerate what we do at suicidal pace.
We can do little to help ourselves.
Our loves our loss and our ultimate stupidity.
History repeating itself - how often have we found paradise - and just how long would do we allow it to last?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overbearing and poorly researched, 17 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Stone Gods (Paperback)
This novel begs a lot of questions. Questions like: What is a yatto-gram? A misspelling of yotta-gram or just a nonsense word? Why did no one bother to inform Miss Winterson that Social Darwinism has been discredited since the 19th century, and that even than it was only believed by racist businessmen? Does anyone really think words sound more futuristic if you prefix them with space- or laser-? Why does the protagonist keep referring to herself as a "scientist", when in fact she is in fact a social worker/farmer? Who's actually managing the farm when she spends all her days doing social work? Why is there a pristine farm on a planet dying from pollution, anyway? Were all the robots deigned by twelve-year-olds? Lesbian sex-robots?

It calls to attention important social issues. Issues like the failing education system, which obviously failed to teach Jeanette Winterson about important concepts like evolution and gravity, and that air isn't actually synonymous with oxygen.

But in all seriousness, this novel is quite terrible. It is preachy, overbearing, sappy, and quite possibly the most poorly researched piece of fiction I have ever read. I would recommend it to people who laugh at critical research failures and enjoy watching trains derail.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 29 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Stone Gods (Paperback)
a set of books that need to be read in sequence it is amazing what you learn about your self
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3.0 out of 5 stars Everything is imprinted forever with what it once was, 16 Oct 2011
By 
A. J. Kubicki "Carol" (Lancashire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Stone Gods (Paperback)
'Everything is imprinted forever with what it once was.'

A novel about humans destroying their environment over and over again; not a theme unique to Jeanette Winterson, but one familiar from other writers. She gives it her own flavour and language and makes it a pleasant enough read, although sometimes obscure. The novel appears to start in the very distant past, we spend some time on Easter Island, as the Islands environment is deteriorating and finally into our near future. The middle section only fits as another example of how we have damaged our environment; the other two tales are intertwined more clearly.

Some interesting ideas; a world where everyone is beautiful and a world where nothing is owned, just rented from a corporate monster; she does not show much happiness in the civilisations as they near their destruction. Happiness, she is very clear is about nature, clean air and freedom.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Poetic Lament for the Environment, 8 Mar 2010
This review is from: The Stone Gods (Paperback)
Renowned for her comic narratives, and perhaps concealed by them, Jeanette Winterson's last novel but one is a poetic lament, sung for a world in what the author supposes to be its last throes. Unquestionably passionate and at times dazzling in its invention, The Stone Gods is another of those science-fiction novels originated by the throng of unlikely writers who mean to transcend the boundaries of mere genre into high art.

Excusing for a moment the insulting presumption begged by such a trend, the net result has been an influx of predictably high-minded chaff, but from amongst the multitude several noteworthy new voices have sounded. From Margaret Atwood's recent speculative dalliances through to The Road, the naturalistic grounding that has suffused sci-fi of late has imparted upon it a gratifying sense of literary importance, and considered readers will be glad to add Winterson to the ranks of writers drawn out of their comfort zones to grace a genre held very dear indeed.

The Stone Gods is a tale of three Billies: two women - one on the run in the far-flung future with which the book begins, and another escapee, an orphan from the not-too-distant, to close out the spitfire narrative - and, at the axis around which the novel revolves, a young explorer. He is an abandoned on Easter Island after the errant gunfire of Captain Cook's landing party forces his companions to beat a quick retreat, and here at the heart of the story, amongst the natives and the titular stone statues that stagger to this day, the significance of Billy's masculinity hardly needs the emphasis of the phallogocentric societies from which the women run.

But gender inequalities are not the great threat of Winterson's novel; the menace of The Stone Gods is, inescapably, humanity itself. The great carvings that tower around Easter Island are a remarkable expression of our capabilities as a people - they are an awesome feat indeed, created from little but tireless endeavour and dedication, but what desolation the tribes that crafted them have wrought in their creation. In the end, the island is made barren; its resources are exhausted, taken for all they had and all they could have had. Centuries ago and in the vacuum of isolation that Easter Island represents, Winterson posits, humanity created Gods, and in so doing destroyed a world. And in a future slightly advanced from our own, Orbus - a planet not unlike Earth - is on the verge of a similar sort of ruin.

The two tales that bookend The Stone Gods do much to finesse the motif that emerges so figuratively from the tale of Easter Island. These Billies are much alike, in spirit and in situation. They each hearken back to simpler, more natural times - one makes her home on Orbus' last remaining farm and the other lives for a mother she can never know - and both their worlds are dominated by MORE, a family of corporations whose business is without borders. MORE is the law, the doctor and the robotic home-help; MORE can deliver the present and assure the future. Each of the Billies is complicit in the excess that MORE symbolises. Cynical and miserable, their parallel lives are enlivened by opportunity as fate splinters them from the faceless industry. The cycle that repeats throughout The Stone Gods is broken at last: the seemingly inescapable momentum that Winterson builds with her fragmentary narrative is stopped - or slowed, at the least. There is a chance, then. For the Billies and, perhaps, for us as well.

However plausible the self-inflicted end of humankind might be, it does not prove so easy to suspend disbelief for all of The Stone Gods. Some of the tropes Winterson makes use of are outmoded already, and a few are startlingly unimaginative - a capital sci-fi crime indeed. Amongst such a wealth of more convincingly drawn concepts, however, only the bloody-minded are likely to focus on any single misstep for long. Relayed in addictive, bite-size instalments, the respective journeys of the three Billies whip along at light-speed. More jarring are Winterson's frequent lapses into self-indulgence; her overlong lectures on future history stop an otherwise pacey narrative dead in its tracks. But surely the greatest flaw of The Stone Gods is its very nature: expect subtlety and nuance to take seats in the back of a whole other room when the prospect to make a polemic of the novel arises. The cover blurb even boasts of as much.

Certainly, then, The Stone Gods is imperfect. A little refinement - a clearer sense of its purpose, for a start - would have elevated its already considerable reach still higher. But Winterson is a wordsmith with few peers, and her first incursion into genre territory proves a resounding success otherwise. Funny and matter-of-fact, playful as it takes on the end of the world and beyond, The Stone Gods is an empowering tale for our times. Compulsive reading, if not quite compulsory.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars starts with promise, 23 Sep 2008
This review is from: The Stone Gods (Paperback)
I have to admit that I quite enjoyed the first half of this book, athough the writing style took a little getting used to, but then after the first section the story just peters out and is not very easy to follow, and to be honest it just becomes very dull and tedious.
I feel that if the book had been a novella, and had ended at the end of the first section of the story (about half the book) then I would have enjoyed it a lot more. As it is, it just becomes dull, tedious and confusing and was not a pleasure to read. I wish I had stopped after the first section.
I cannot recommend this book, although I am told that some of her other work is of a higher standard.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 10 Aug 2009
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This review is from: The Stone Gods (Paperback)
I'm not exactly a huge fan of Jeanette Winterson (I read Oranges for A-Level and disliked it) but I've read The Stone Gods, Lighthousekeeping and The Passion, at a friend's insistence I stick with it and I think this book is excellent.

She has a fairly profound argument of humanities difficulty at learning by its mistakes and depicts an awfully dystopian society echoing our own to an extreme, possibly suggesting how far things can go. Using Donne's poem the story, to me, is metaphysical and has the most extraordinary poetic language to go with it.

Like all of Winterson's books, this is too clever to read in one go and understand all of what the book is saying. (Actually Winterson's small books have more to say than huge trilogies.)But aside from this requirement for analysis, the story itself is excellent, managing to be fun and Sci-Fi-ish whilst being an exercise in superb political and social criticism. Perhaps if I had been cleverer I would have enjoyed the other novels more however as it stands if I were to recommend one that I think everyone should read this is it.
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The Stone Gods
The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson (Paperback - 3 July 2008)
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