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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars World building worthy of Wolfe
Adam Roberts' second novel demonstrates that here is an author who refuses to be straight-jacketed by the 'normal' rules of hard sf as he creates the most bizarre of worlds and then show us it from the perspective of one of its seemingly most insignificant denizens.
Tighe's story is part quest through a setting as bizarre as any in Gene Wolfe's 'New Sun' series, part...
Published on 2 Dec 2002 by thealienonline_editor

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of ideas, but unsatisfying
I have to go with the reader from Sandown. There's a lot of invention packed into this book, and the main character is effectively drawn, but then it all tails off into a series of disjointed scenes and, ultimately, the arrival of a deus ex machina (in more senses than one) who explains nearly everything but then sets up a couple of brand new mysteries, and then... the...
Published on 17 Sep 2003 by A. Key


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of ideas, but unsatisfying, 17 Sep 2003
By 
A. Key "Electric Monk" (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
I have to go with the reader from Sandown. There's a lot of invention packed into this book, and the main character is effectively drawn, but then it all tails off into a series of disjointed scenes and, ultimately, the arrival of a deus ex machina (in more senses than one) who explains nearly everything but then sets up a couple of brand new mysteries, and then... the book stops. Roberts fits comfortably into the millenium wave of British SF writers - the belief that novels don't need a proper ending, the obsession with gore, blood, guts and severed limbs, all the trademarks are there. So long as you can get past that it's not a bad book, but it's lacking something.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars World building worthy of Wolfe, 2 Dec 2002
This review is from: On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Adam Roberts' second novel demonstrates that here is an author who refuses to be straight-jacketed by the 'normal' rules of hard sf as he creates the most bizarre of worlds and then show us it from the perspective of one of its seemingly most insignificant denizens.
Tighe's story is part quest through a setting as bizarre as any in Gene Wolfe's 'New Sun' series, part the story of a coming of age into a true age of wonders. Yes, it's strange, yes it's unusual, indeed almost 'fantastic' in flavour, but it does have a very solid hard sf basis - and there's always been more to science fiction than just robots and spaceships, as Roberts more than ably demonstrates.
Give 'On' a try - take your head in new directions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor sci-fi novel - disappointing, 21 Nov 2007
This review is from: On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
I have read other books by Adam Roberts such as Salt that I enjoyed. However this book left me very disappointed. The concept behind the book is a very interesting one but the characters and plot within the book were shallow and meaningless. As for the ending - I thought I had a book with missing pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and disjointed, 28 Dec 2007
This review is from: On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
The quote on the cover says "very high concept". This is true, but the story is driven along by the need to reveal the "high concept" underpinnings of the world, not by the characters. With each change in Tighe's circumstance, he is little changed by his experiences. The overall effect was unconvincing, particularly the end (which it was a struggle to reach). I gave this book 2 stars as I liked the clues and (mis)information seeded in the story about the origins of the world, even though I didn't like the way which the underlying mystery drove the story.

If you are new to Adam Roberts' work, don't start with this book, try Stone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a road movie - feels like part 1 of X, 20 Nov 2002
By A Customer
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This review is from: On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Various reviewers have either raved or ranted about the lack of conclusion to the book but actually, it kind of stops on a bit of a cliff-hanger that feels like ON - Part 2 may come along sometime.
In general this is a road-movie of a book with the main character growing from boyhood to manhood as he blown across the surface of the world wall by extreme events. The time line seems to expand and contract so that 50 pages equate to a few days of his life and then later a couple of paragraphs to months, maybe a year - this is somewhat annoying.
Also, the explanation of the boys existence and the reason that his world is the way it is, I found, a little rushed and raised more questions then answers.
Not a compulsive read but something to do on a wet Sunday afternoon.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A one-concept conceit, 24 Nov 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
The book started well, with some great characterisation. I really enjoyed the introductory part, which was very short, but then half the good characters got effectively killed off. The tale seemed to then go into an incredibly long and ultimately irrelevent series of cutscenes into the conclusion, which was equally short and unsatisfactory. Definitely not a good story, nor well told. The characters and the set though, cannot be faulted.
The worst offence of all, in my view, was the appendix which explained in painful technical detail the origin of the unusual phenomenon which is the breathtaking central premise of the book. There was more than enough room in the body of the book to explain all of this in a much more friendly and exciting way; and goodness knows it needed a bit of that. The appendix managed to make this audacious idea into a dull and pointless sideshow. A tragic waste.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On or Off, 23 Oct 2010
By 
Diziet "I Like Toast" (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Hardcover)
What a very strange book. It is based around a single, huge concept that results in a world that is almost unrecognisably alien. But within this alien world, people live small agrarian lives, superstitious, narrow and ignorant. And then one boy, Tighe, goes unwillingly and unknowingly on a quest. And that is kind of the trouble with the book. Quests, to my mind, don't always make for the most riveting of stories. The central concept is so huge that the narrative ends up being almost swallowed by it. The story tends towards the 'this happened and next, this happened and after that, this happened', so there's not really any 'plot'.

In some ways, it rather reminded me of 'Davy' by Edgar Pangborn. In that book, the eponymous hero travels through a post-apocalyptic America, ruled by the Holy Murcan Church. But in Adam Roberts world, things are more tribal, as the Empire declares war on the 'Otre' and Tighe is caught up in the ensuing chaos. The story seems allegorical, almost like 'Gulliver's Travels', but if it is, the allegory is pretty obscure. It feels as though there should be some ulterior motive or power. It is, at times, reminiscent of 'Candy Man' - another post-apocalyptic but dream-like novel. There's also something very English about the book - probably the nearest comparison I can think of is Brian Aldiss's 'Hothouse'.

Although it is very well written, at times in an almost poetic or epic style, I found it long and quite hard work at times and it is strange to compare this with, say, the more overtly political sci-fi of 'Salt' or the fantastical 'Stone'. Certainly Adam Roberts always provides a challenging read.

Adam Roberts states right at the end that the novel is about 'precariousness'. There is an obvious sense in which this is the case, but also the story is in a sense equally precarious and, as such, not wholly successful. Still, Adam Roberts is always worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes but..., 9 Mar 2007
By 
J. M. Carey (Wellington UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Reading the reviews here I find myself agreeing with some of the main points- yes the main character is a bit passive, the deus ex machina explanation was a trifle unnecessary and the ending was a bit too much of a cliff-hanger (pun intended?) but overall it is greater than the sum of its parts - it works and these criticisms don't reflect that. I would say it is "vividly executed" - excedingly so and yes it is a conceit - sci-fi falls into that category if it isn't tolkein in space, look at asimov, greg bear or Iain M Banks. To make a convincing depiction of a world at right angles to what we know is a considerable achievement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great sophomore effort, 21 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
The central premice of the novel can be worked out fairly early on,the reason for not giving it 5 stars being the rather clunky and pulpish way it is explained at the end.As with salt,the world is perfectly realised as are the characters.Some delightfully gruesome parts involving man eating insects and a truly shocking incident involving canabilism.Look forward to Stone...,but next time Adam,be less meticulous about dotting the i's and crossing the t's in the plot;some times things are best under explained.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A cardboard main character and directionless plot, 31 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: On (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
If you like tightly-plotted sci-fi with believable characters and a gripping storyline then avoid this book like the plague-'cos there's none of that here!
The main character manages to skulk his way through 90% of the story by coasting on automatic. He does nothing of any consequence-events happen to him and in most cases he fails to react, let alone act. Even faced with a chance to push his cannibilistic captor over a cliff he considers acting but 'Something stopped him' Flabby writing at best.
To cap it all in the last part of the book Tighe finally starts taking a little responsibility for his life and is punished with an ending whose message seemed to me to say 'How dare he try to have a life of his own'
The book finishes off with a few pages where the author explains how everything he created is technically possible. Pardon me but I always thought a work of art needs no excuses. However I found this book to be far from a work of art...
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