Customer Reviews


22 Reviews
5 star:
 (6)
4 star:
 (7)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are we all tourists these days
My first (and somewhat belated) exposure to M. John Harrison came with a short story called Tourism about a character called Jack Serotonin going into a site with a woman and only Jack coming back. The story focussed on what happened to the people on the outside of the site as they waited for Jack to come back. The short story was a precursor, a taster to this novel,...
Published on 8 Aug. 2007 by S. Bentley

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hugely disappointing
I enjoyed the first volume of this trilogy (Light) even though the main characters were unlikeable, dysfunctional or psychopathic. There was a story and the author created a new reality I could sink into in the evening (feet up on the sofa and a glass of rouge in easy reach) . This volume didn't . I'm hard pressed to recall any chapter or passage that took me into the...
Published on 11 Jan. 2013 by peter williams


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are we all tourists these days, 8 Aug. 2007
By 
S. Bentley "stuarthoratiobentley" (North Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
My first (and somewhat belated) exposure to M. John Harrison came with a short story called Tourism about a character called Jack Serotonin going into a site with a woman and only Jack coming back. The story focussed on what happened to the people on the outside of the site as they waited for Jack to come back. The short story was a precursor, a taster to this novel, with a name or two changed and the plot of the first chapter mapping onto that story with a few shifts. What follows is an investigation into an outlandish world described like a detective novel. Which is fitting, as the best detective novels have a good sense of place, and Nova Swing's downbeat, downmarket setting is a very memorable world.

In a sense, the plot is secondary. The story is about the characters who inhabit this world and how they interact with it. However, I will say that the fact that Harrison includes a quote from Roadside Picnic by the Strugatskys is very telling. Had he not acknowledged this as an influence (along with a small allusion - I think - to Philip K. Dick's Clans of the Alphane Moons), I might have been a little saddened. However this story is an inversion of that one because it's about what takes place outside the site where strange things happen. It's about how society is filled these days with tourists, people who will never know what it is to be lost, how society has become so safe that it's sometimes hard to see why we keep living. Serotonin is one of the few men in this world who thrives on being lost, both inside the site and in his own life.

As ever with Harrison, there is sex, there is body horror, there is profundity. And isn't that what British SF is all about?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "He was so frail you could see the drink on its way into him, percolating from vein to vein.", 26 Nov. 2012
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
M John Harrison throws the reader in at the deep end. His prose is thick and shapely - a positive smorgasboard of impressions are thrown down and it does take time to orient oneself, almost as if one has entered the aureole of the event this novel represents. Let me throw a few minimal moments your way: born on Scienza Nova, Vic Serotonin is a kind of travel agent. In Saudade where he lives, and where the Kefahuchi Tract fell to the surface, a shifting, unstable, kind of place as you might call it, though you'd be wrong. Vic, if you want him to, can get you there. Just entering the event's aureaole might mean you are caught within something strange that makes you feel different. Many of Saudade's inhabitants ignore the event. Some of them are, apparently, arriving on Saudade through the event. This is not legal, but it's hard to prove anything. A Site Crime has been commited, it seems, and more than one person is ready to finger Vic Serotonin.

Strangely enough, given that they are not really the same kind of book, Harrison writes of the children of this world as if they were adult, as does Jonathan Lethem's novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, though as with Harrison, they are not really given much characterisation. Money, in this world, can buy you a new you. It can bulk you up like our detective's assistant, a girl with superhuman speed and strength - all built into her bloodstream artificially.

There are a number of people in the book who provide alternative viewpoints, including our detective who looks like an elderly version of Einstein. We learn quite a lot about him and his agoraphobic wife, and about Liv Hula, a Bar owner, who develops a dream of space hopping, buys an old tub of a ship, and with her friends achieves her dream. But such positivities are not on the table for the majority. The atmosphere created by Harrison is a marvel. It is multi-layered, constantly inventive and supremely - and darkly - imagined. You have to appreciate a smattering of hard-ish science along with your dream-schemes to get the most out of this book, but for anyone willing to try, this is compulsively rewarding.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy sucessor to Light....., 9 April 2007
By 
Mr. A. J. Whiteway "andy-ru" (Londinium, uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
'Nova Swing' is M John Harrison's sequel to 2003's 'Light', a book that marked a welcome return to Science-Fiction. Harrison can be a polarising writer and 'Nova Swing' does nothing to change this.

The story is loosely related to 'Light' and concerns a cat and mouse game between detective and 'tour operator' Vic Serotonin. Serotonin risks all by routinely going into the 'event site', a place where normal laws of physics don't seem to apply and the risk to the person's mind seems huge.

Whereas 'Light' was arguably a character driven piece that wrapped three narratives into an intense conclusion, 'Nova Swing' allows its two main characters to fade into the background, instead choosing to explore the effects of the event site on the secondary characters in the book. Initially this move can seem confusing, but to me it enabled the book to build to a much richer and ambiguous conclusion than 'Light'. Harrison's prose (as always), is a wonder and the dark noir world will feel instantly familiar to those familiar with the Cyberpunk genre.

This is a book that does not offer up any easy answers, it makes you work for them. For that alone, I highly reccomend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise, 11 July 2014
This review is from: Nova Swing (Mass Market Paperback)
I started reading this novel with very low expectations dictated from having read the reviews by other readers and I must admit, instead, that I was pleasantly surprised, demonstrating once again how reading the opinions of others can be misleading.
Actually at the beginning of the reading I felt disoriented, with all those descriptions of situations and characters that are hard to imagine and especially with the remarkably static narrative. Going forward, however, I managed to get used to the unusual language of the author and appreciate the evocative aspect. Meanwhile, the story came alive and took hold of me forcing me to go ever further, so much that it became difficult to stop.
It is an original work, in which you cannot imagine what will happen next or the real implications of what has happened, where the main characters are annoying and you're apparently happy to realize that at the end the story abandons them, giving space to much more interesting secondary characters.
The lingering in improbable descriptions of improbable places and the author's ability to get out of each narrative scheme keeping you glued to the pages, whilst in your head an incredible universe takes shape that only the written word can evoke, are in my opinion the strengths of this novel. Not everybody is probably able to appreciate them, but it is undoubtedly a type of science fiction that is in my comfort zone.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Who needs a plot when a great story will do, 30 May 2014
By 
P. J. Dunn "Peter Dunn" (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Science fiction has a real problem delivering well rounded intriguing characters. However in this book M John Harrison not only achieves that with the main cast, he even makes you engaged and interested in at least one character who could perhaps be best described as doubly unreal and insubstantial. A bonus for me in that cast list is that, unlike the other M John Harrison books I have read so far, a fair number of the protagonists are actually fairly sympathetic characters and are not simply a set of complete human wretches.

There is also a great story that carries these characters along against several attention holding backdrops. This includes one backdrop the very name of which generates that old SF sense of wonder. While there is a indeed a great story there isn’t really much of a plot, but I have come to realise that the M John Harrison stories I have read to date often didn’t seem to need one…..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hugely disappointing, 11 Jan. 2013
By 
peter williams (west kirby, england) - See all my reviews
I enjoyed the first volume of this trilogy (Light) even though the main characters were unlikeable, dysfunctional or psychopathic. There was a story and the author created a new reality I could sink into in the evening (feet up on the sofa and a glass of rouge in easy reach) . This volume didn't . I'm hard pressed to recall any chapter or passage that took me into the reality of the Kefahuchi Tract. I can however recall considerable irritation at the author's self indulgence. I guess I will buy the third volume but only when my disappointment and irritation wear off; this could take some time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Character driven SF, 22 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So much of the tradition of SF lies in technological wizardry that it comes as a pleasant shock to encounter a novel whose story, for all that it takes place on an alien world in the far future, and involves miraculous (if largely unexplained) technologies, is actually about people. Not heroes or villains, just ordinary, fallible, people with human desires and needs, who could, like the characters of Philip K Dick whom they rather resemble, be encountered in the street tomorrow. The book is beautifully written, and is tightly constructed, if you see plot as something that grows out of characters, rather than something external, applied to them. Altogether, a masterpiece and at least as good as "Light".
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1.0 out of 5 stars Awful tedium, 31 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I enjoyed the first book of this series, but Nova Swing is a tedious journey into the author's contrived and plotless take on 1930's detective pulp. I read it to. The end just in case something, anything, happened. Spoiler alert! Nothing happens. MJ Harrison may have enjoyed writing this tedium, but he should not inflict it on his readers.

At least now I know that when most of the positive reviews mention how wonderful the prose is (by the way, it isn't, it's turgid, indulgent hyperbole), then beware that the story is not up to much.

I gave this one star because it is not possible to score it lower
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed up metaphors, 16 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Harrison is a conflicted writer. In this recent work he appears to take it easy and as a result has written an entertaining conceit on a theme also explored by the Strugatsky brothers, or more precisely by Tarkovsky, in Stalker - if to nothing like that effect. The problem is that Harrison's book has little of the mystery of his greater earlier works, such as The Course of the Heart. He seems to have lost patience with the process.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars More of a picture than a story, 5 April 2014
By 
Mike (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I liked it, but will I read it again? Not sure.

There's some continuity of characters and places with the first book in the trilogy; but no continuity of plot. If fact there's hardly any plot in this book at all. Nothing much seems to happen. Rather, it's a detailed life in the day of type description of how several people live their inter-locked lives in the shadow of an alien artifact.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Nova Swing (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
Nova Swing (GOLLANCZ S.F.) by M. John Harrison (Hardcover - 9 Nov. 2006)
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews