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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real treat....
For a second published novel this is a truly exceptional piece of work. The characterisation is hit and miss at times – some seem rounded and relatively consistent, others snapshots with sudden and inexplicable motivations and actions. Where the novel really takes off for me is the beautiful blend of intriguing story-telling combined with intelligent philosophical...
Published on 6 Feb 2006 by Amazon Customer

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious and exciting idea, slightly disappointing execution
The premise of this book - a near-future exploration of the government sponsored development of a technology for mind control - is very promising and I got the sense that the author put a fair amount of research and thought into making it convincing. In the end, though, the author is not entirely successful, either as a gritty, action driven thriller type a la William...
Published on 10 May 2007 by Helen Semple


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious and exciting idea, slightly disappointing execution, 10 May 2007
By 
Helen Semple "helen-semple" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mappa Mundi (Paperback)
The premise of this book - a near-future exploration of the government sponsored development of a technology for mind control - is very promising and I got the sense that the author put a fair amount of research and thought into making it convincing. In the end, though, the author is not entirely successful, either as a gritty, action driven thriller type a la William Gibson (the rather simplistic, somewhat naive ending; convenient deus ex machina abilities for Natalie and Bobby X) or as a more character driven piece (the interestingly ambigious Mary Delany, who we seem to be encouraged to feel some sympathy for as a victim of her own ambition, is summarily converted to a cartoon villain and wiped out; Guskov, the lurking chameleonic menace, in the end does little more than unsuccessfully defend his own ideology and has no noticeable impact on the denouement).

All this is to say that the author chose a huge, complex subject which in the end she was unable to do full justice to: a lot of things are left unresolved, or are not resolved satisfactorily, in spite of the book's length. However, I was much more impressed by this book than some of her more recent novels, which are much lighter in tone and seem to have given up on interesting characters - rare and precious in SF - entirely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real treat...., 6 Feb 2006
This review is from: Mappa Mundi (Paperback)
For a second published novel this is a truly exceptional piece of work. The characterisation is hit and miss at times – some seem rounded and relatively consistent, others snapshots with sudden and inexplicable motivations and actions. Where the novel really takes off for me is the beautiful blend of intriguing story-telling combined with intelligent philosophical speculation on a whole range of important and potentially world shattering concepts – from the nature of identity and knowledge to the deepest questions of ontological ’truth’. Of course the science fiction format is perfect for this, but it could be done so much worse than this (and often is). I suppose I have one issue with Justina’s approach (and this applies to other works of hers) – human beings in their fundamental attitudes and activities are somewhat static in her novels – whatever their environment, context, existential condition – they tend to react in the manner of early 21st century Westerners – she does not really touch the question of whether basic characteristics of this era of humanity might not change in very deep ways (something I tend to believe not only likely and possible – but inevitable). Of course an explanation from her on this point could easily be that the characters have to remain broadly recognisable and dealing with the world in familiar ways in order to engage with her work properly – but I still think there’s something missing here. That aside, hers is a much needed blast of femininity in a traditionally male dominated corner of literature. As a long time sci fi buff it has been a real treat for me in recent years to find more and more talented women contributing to this field – and I think Justina Robson is going to be one of the best – of either gender. I found Mappa Mundi genuinely compelling from beginning to end – a real treat of a novel – and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys sci fi at its best – exploring fascinating and relevant ideas in an interesting, absorbing and truly enjoyable way.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent thought provoking read, 24 Mar 2002
This review is from: Mappa Mundi (Paperback)
Looking for something new to read, I came across Justina Robson's Mappa Mundi. It's intriguing title does not suggest the depth of ideas & concepts she has come up with in this book. I was torn from racing through it, because it's a hard book to put down, and taking my time to savour the story, structure and characters. Here is an author who has the power of her convictions and takes her character (and us) on a journey, which reaches an unexpected, but thought provoking conclusions on the nature of self and identity.
You do get to know Natalie, Jude, Mary and Dan well, all complex, flawed, and very human. Even the secondary characters like Natalie's father and White Horse; Jude's sister are well crafted.
Another aspect I enjoyed about this book was the writing; not too techno heavy, but the writer conveyed the concept of Selfware brilliantly & frighteningly indeed. Although the book is science fiction, the first part of the book it could happily work as just a thriller. There is a level of paranoia that runs nicely through out this book. This mutates into something darker and combined the clever speculative fiction leaves the reader with some profound and disturbing thoughts at the end.
A great read & I look forward to reading her next book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Sci Fi Book, 16 April 2013
This review is from: Mappa Mundi (Paperback)
Have had this kicking around for years, and have finally got around to reading it, and wish I had earlier.

Readly good near future sci fi, looking at a form of mind control, and the battle between the various agencies to control this technology. Has a number of main characters, and various threads that come together in a reasonable dramatic ending, and a good complex plot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant technothriller, 21 Oct 2012
By 
Liz (Brighton) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mappa Mundi (Paperback)
I read this reluctantly - the choice for a reading group I belong to. I love science fiction but am usually bored by cyberpunk so thought I'd hate this. Mean streets and characters with jack plugs in their heads? Not for me.
How wrong I was! This is superb - a thoughtful near future technothriller in which a technique for ultimate mind control is fought for by various state and criminal factions. It's a difficult trick to include a genuinely original SF idea, rounded and engaging characters, a non-stop roller coaster story and a discussion on philosophy of mind but Robson does just that!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Slow Paced and philosophical, 3 Dec 2011
By 
Killie (Armadale, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mappa Mundi (Paperback)
The first thing I noticed when reading the book was that Justina Robson must have put a lot of research into the novel as I could imagine that some of the technologies detailed may really just be around the corner. However, I found that at times it did get quite deep into some of the technicalities and science involved and this felt a little bit to heavy at times.

I also found that none of the characters within the novel really appealed to me. I know that some of this was due to the characterisation being weak and inconsistent at times, especially in regards to the supporting characters. However, even the characters that were well rounded and consistent couldn't keep me interested in their predicament. I will say however that the characters were more realistic than some basic good and bad characters, with none of them being completely admirable or despicable in their actions.

Overall, I have to say that this was not a book I enjoyed hugely. The parts of the book that should have had me on the edge of my seat just didn't work due to both the overall slow pace of the novel and the characterisation. I suspect some people will really like this book, especially those who would enjoy a deep philosophical dive into psychology, personal freedoms, etc. in the near future but it just wasn't for me.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Absorbing, 16 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Mappa Mundi (Paperback)
Various powers struggle to control a new kind of software that works on the human mind. In the thick of it are two people: Nastasha Armstrong--who has written some of this programming in order to help people with serious mental problems--and Jude Westhorpe, whose half-sister is nearly burnt to death in her bed by someone who had been used as a software guinea pig. This is an SF thriller, a clever mystery, and has wonderful characters. Highly recommended.
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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 19 Sep 2002
This review is from: Mappa Mundi (Paperback)
The story takes an emotional tour through two characters lives and then, snaps away at a tangent, with an ending that left this reader feeling blurred.
I understand the story and the characters reasoning, it just doesn't feel like the best possible ending and is composed without the real speed needed to make it exciting or heart-breaking.
Tenuous links from one to another, shoe-horning Cheyenne-spirit world as a means of elaborating the existenalist concept. Come on...
... It is simply one of those stories with much to say and not the space or time to get it all out.
I'm disappointed that so much visual detail made a pretty picture but did not make this book the thrill it should have been.
Thought provoking enough to read but not good enough to believe in.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 27 April 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Mappa Mundi (Paperback)
The story takes an emotional tour through two characters lives and then,snaps away at a tangent, with an ending that left this reader feelingblurred.
I understand the story and the characters reasoning, it just doesn't feellike the best possible ending and is composed without the real speedneeded to make it exciting or heart-breaking.
Tenuous links from one to another, shoe-horning Cheyenne-spirit world as ameans of elaborating the existenalist concept. Come on...
... It is simply one of those stories with much to say and not the spaceor time to get it all out.
I'm disappointed that so much visual detail made a pretty picture but didnot make this book the thrill it should have been.
Thought provoking enough to read but not good enough to believe in.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read with tex that jumps from the page and the future, 21 Nov 2001
This review is from: Mappa Mundi (Paperback)
A futuristic spy book that is a mix of Orwell's 1984 and the paranoid conspiracy theries of the X-files.
Nanotechnology is being used for delicate brain repair. But ultimately, Mind control is the darker goal. But only if you're a player.
Brilliant! Thoroughy good read.
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