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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worthy winner of the Clarke award
This is a superb book. (I actually read its sequel, Castles Made of Sand, first, as it was in our local library; read that in one sitting and went out and bought this the next day.) It's set in a recognisably near-future England, where devolution for Scotalnd and Wales is just about to become independence, anti-capitalists and the lunatic fringe of the environmental...
Published on 21 Aug 2002

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Jesus, Lenin and Trotsky," he muttered, "Is this England?"
This is England, but not as we know it. The Counter-Cultural forces are at work and have de-stabalised the political system to the point where the government have formed a coalition with these rock stars and guitar heroes who have converged in all the usual places (Glastonbury, Reading, etc.) in order to have a good time, smoke a lot of weed and generally engage the suits...
Published on 16 May 2012 by Eileen Shaw


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Jesus, Lenin and Trotsky," he muttered, "Is this England?", 16 May 2012
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This is England, but not as we know it. The Counter-Cultural forces are at work and have de-stabalised the political system to the point where the government have formed a coalition with these rock stars and guitar heroes who have converged in all the usual places (Glastonbury, Reading, etc.) in order to have a good time, smoke a lot of weed and generally engage the suits in mind-enhancing dialogues. In this parallel world what solves people's dissatisfactions appears to be lots of free concerts by big name rock stars. The middle-classes are, presumably, just getting on with things in their own knitted cardigan sort of way, busy eradicating aphids in the garden and running their small businesses, because, after all, the people running the country are their children. So that's all right then.

This is so nearly wonderful that you read it hoping it can do the magic and make you believe in a world with a rock group called Pigsty and the Organs living in Buckingham Palace. But no, sadly, it doesn't quite come off. There is a lot of talking, a lot of action, not to mention the defeat of the Islamist Republic of Yorkshire, in a North Yorks Moors battle. One wishes to believe that the people of England would, for just a short period of time anyway, get off their backsides and believe in something enough to fight for it. It's hard to believe - even squeezing one's feet into Dorothy's red shoes wouldn't do it.

There are only three characters of any note in this - Ax Preston, "soft-spoken guitar man", Sage Pender, "techno-wizard king of the lads," and Firoinda, "talented rock and roll princess by birth, searching for her father, the legendary Rufus O'Niall." There is no attempt to characterise the grey suits of the government, and any opposition to the Counter-Culture is null and void as a result. But it very soon turns into a kind of soap opera, with Pigsty convicted of paedophilia and the power of rock music reigning supreme. Fiorinda has a prolonged psychotic episode caused by a bouquet of roses that has been dusted with psychotropic powders; then she gets to choose which of the two available men she wants to be with - and she chooses both. Dream on.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worthy winner of the Clarke award, 21 Aug 2002
By A Customer
This is a superb book. (I actually read its sequel, Castles Made of Sand, first, as it was in our local library; read that in one sitting and went out and bought this the next day.) It's set in a recognisably near-future England, where devolution for Scotalnd and Wales is just about to become independence, anti-capitalists and the lunatic fringe of the environmental movement have grown from a minor nuisance to a serious threat to society, and a government even more devoted to focus groups than Tony Blair has decided that the best way to tackle the problem is to instigate a Counter-Cultural Think Tank to give it street cred. Add to this a double-cross which leaves most of the said Think Tank dead, and an armed uprising by Islamic militants in Yorkshire, and you have all the ingredients of a total social collapse - which Ax Preston, brilliant guitarist and committed, driven social idealist ("I don't want to be a politician, I want to be a leader") is determined to avoid. His allies are rock stars, his methods range from a small shooting war through rock festivals to religious conversion, and the whole thing is played out over some of the most historically resonant bits of the English landscape.
The real strengths of the book are the writing, which is magnificent, and the characterisation of the three principal actors, Ax, Fiorinda and Sage Pender, which is deep, subtle and brilliantly drawn. (Though I do think the portait of Ax the strategist - super-competent, driven, frighteningly prepared to sacrifice anything for the greater good - needs the balance that we get with Ax the lover (decidedly more human, actually *making mistakes*) in Castles.) The evocation of England - people, history, landscape and myth - is also beautifully done. Having been raised in Scotland, I was suitably flattered that my adopted country copes much better with Jones' set of future disasters than England does - but in all honesty I think that's a literary device to keep the focus tight.
Okay, so I do have a few quibbles, mainly with the basic scene-set, which seems curiously old-fashioned: I'm not convinced that rock music has the sort of high profile these days that it has to have for Bold As Love to work, and would a techno-wizard whose performance consists of computer imagery, a seriously acrobatic stage act, and "vile noises" really idolise - and take his stage name from - the Grateful Dead? And comment, not criticism: for a Clarke award winner, this has a rather tangential relationship with science fiction (if Iain Banks had written it, I think it would have been a black-and-white-cover and no middle initial job).
Summary: good plot, fine writing, engaging characters. I've put a few hatchet-job reviews on this site: it's nice to be able to redress the balance with a wholehearted recommendation!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a festival novel, 31 Aug 2002
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Though this novel is a fantasy, the fact that its author is Gwyneth Jones means that we have a book here with a conscience. Bold As Love works because its author, already known for her strengths of characterisation and originality of setting, has decided to take the festi culture that she knows as her backdrop. The whole thing has enough twists and turns to keep it moving, enough heart to make it feel real, and enough SF interest to keep the reader thinking.
Quite rightly, it has won the 2002 Arthur C. Clarke Award. Recommended to all readers who love a novel with: ingenuity, originality, readability, great one-liners, oddness, social comment, horrible bits (thankfully not too many, but the author is a bit of a social realist, if I could borrow that term from Blackadder), strange bits, moving bits... I could go on, but there really are alots of bits to this multi-faceted novel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blazed (like a bonfire), 15 Dec 2004
By A Customer
I love this book. "Bold As Love" is not fantasy, it's not sci-fi, it's the world around us with a rock and roll twist, treated in a way that manages to be incredibly harsh and yet optimistic at the same time. The only other sf writer who can write about music convincingly (IMO) is Jeff Noon, but to be frank, Bold As Love is an easier ride... The plot is nailbiting, because the characters are so well drawn. You feel you know these people and you are terrified that they aren't going to make it. To say more is superfluous because you have to experience this, no summary will do it justice. Castles Made of Sand is also brilliant, Midnight Lamp probably the best actual *novel* of the three, but Bold As Love is still the boss book. Intense!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bold and brilliant, 17 Oct 2002
By 
David Calder (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bold As Love (Paperback)
Bold As Love was recommended by a friend, and I was doubtful. In my experience fantasy and sf writers tend to fall down badly when they tackle contemporary culture, and an award is no guarantee of readability: but this is different. Imagine an idealist rock festival scene,made up of punks and radical political hippies, and imagine the principal characters, the aspiring stars,looking on fairly cynically as this scene develops fangs and teeth in a near-future England...and then just as you wonder where the book could be going, all hell breaks loose. You soon realise that the ensemble characters are taking on the roles of fantasy, with rock and roll aristocracy replacing the usual fake-mediaeval princes and princesses, and alt.tech (mainly) replacing magic. It's a bold idea indeed, yet it works excellently. The disasters keep coming, the pace is gleeful and relentless to a daring finale, but Ax and Sage ands Fiorinda are the heart of the book, and their compelling relationship is the real drive. If you don't like rock music, you'd probably still get a lot out of this book, because there are many layers, if you do like music, prepare to spot lol references: Gwyneth Jones doesn't ram her knowledge of the scene down your throat but its always there. If your views are young conservative, don't touch this book, it will only make you hopping mad. Otherwise, I'd recommend it to anyone. Brilliant and unique. I wish other fantasy writers would follow this lead.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joyful and intelligent celebration of diversity, 7 Sep 2001
This review is from: Bold As Love (Paperback)
Imagine an England where pop stars slaughter excess cattle for the TV cameras, and refugees are greeted with music festivals!
Bold as Love is a surefire contender for this year's Clarke award; and for others, too, whether sf or mainstream. Joyously written, this compelling novel represents a major change of direction for Gwyneth Jones (albeit one presaged, in part, in KAIROS and such 'Ann Halam' novels as The Fear Man and The Powerhouse). Blending intimate technologies and magical energies, 'shit venues and flashes of genius', near-future possibilities and a mythic past, indie music and funky, chaotic revolution, Jones delivers a weird new future, just a heartbeat away. And she does so more convincingly even than Bruce Sterling or William Gibson--largely because of her stunning sense of place, both physical and cultural, and of history and duration. Take a step to one side (the left, of course) and this is a hopeful vision of here-and-now, steeped in the matter of England and rooted in a timely evocation of Britain's essential diversity. With Bold as Love, Jones has joined the small number--the very small number--of fantasists (Mieville, Noon, Shiner, Waldrop) to write well about popular music. Among its many accomplishments, the novel perfectly captures and fondly ironises the romanticism and cynicism, idealism and solipsism of rock culture, the counterculture and science fiction, too.
If there are any TV producers out there with a little courage and imagination, and who are fed up with the endless cycle of costume dramas and regional cops, they should drop everything and snap up the option to adapt Bold as Love today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 27 Sep 2011
By 
Tasha "Love audible - great way to find new b... (Broadstone, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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A tour de force of faith, politics, technology, magic, hummanity and england as it's never before been seen. Highly recommend this book, and the rest of the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent near future novel, 3 July 2010
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Bold as Love is a sort of SF/Fantasy vision of a near future England.

It's set in a time where the counter-cultural movement has gained a lot of ground (this is mostly alluded to) whilst the United Kingdom is dissolved. As the title "Bold As Love" implies, this novel is indebted to rock music. The government of the new England decides that it needs to cosy up to the more powerful counter-cultural movement; there seem to be a number of reasons for this. Again, these are quite often, rather than explicitly told alluded to.

The novel has a large number of themes and ideas in it; it is also a good literary piece of SF.

It is clearly set in a time where there has been a breakdown (but in absolutely no way complete; people still live their lives in a way that we'd recognise) due to environmental crisis - predominantly energy crisis, I think. Like I say, though, this is never, explicitly, told. This leads to the growing importance of the environmental and counter-cultural movements, which leads to rock stars being invited to government. These make up most of the main characters in the novel.

There are many things that I liked about Jones' novel. Firstly, it's character driven, and these characters are well drawn. Though there are some people that are worse than others, even the "good" characters are far from perfect, they have problems and make choices that they don't agree with because they are politically the correct thing to do.

The mainstreaming of the environmental movement in the novel is handled well, too. It's portrayed as being multi-layed with people who are interested in treating the surroundings better, through to some people who hold questionable views on science or unfortunate views on Englishness.

The referencing of made up rock stars could be lame...but actually, I think it works well. Mostly the dynamics of the rock world are actually handled in a believable way.

It also covers some difficult issues around physical, mental and sexual abuse in an unflinching way. These bits are pretty grim reading, but worthy enough.

There are a couple of things that let the novel down. These, though, are actually more to do with when the novel was originally published. The first is the depiction of the web. Some of it really feels like a depiction of what the web was like in 2001, and an extrapolation of that. Sometimes this feels intrusive, but I don't think, in all fairness, that's the author's fault.

The other is that, though it covers the idea of there being a separatist movement amongst radicalised muslims in the north of England, it does seem to have been written pre-Sep 11th (which it must've been, given it was published in 2001).

These faults are minor, though. If you're looking for good, character-driven, literary SF which portrays an interesting fantastical view of near-future England, this is a good place to go.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brief (and quite gushy - sorry bout that!) review, 29 May 2004
By A Customer
This is one of the best series of books i have ever read. The tone and images Jones created are just so recognisably British that I felt a, previously unheard of, patriotic twinge in my chest when reading, before realising that i was feeling emotional and patriotic for a Britain that doesn't exist (yet!)... a very odd feeling! Her talent lies in creating these enormously complex characters with which you must feel total understanding, not only the triumvirate (I love that word!) but also her immense cast of bit-players, especially Allie, Chip, Verlaine, Rox, Dilip and Rob. This ongoing series is a must-read! I am hugely excited about Band of Gypsies and Stone Free - where can she take them next?!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Implausible and unengaging, 18 Aug 2011
By 
Aquilonian (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
Gwyneth Jones writes beautifully at times, but I couldn't get interested in this book for four reasons.

Firstly, I wasn't interested in the characters. Ax and Sage I could hardly tell apart, except for their physical appearance which is constantly referred to. Fiorinda is distinctive but more irritating than charismatic. Characters could have been developed in a lot more depth.

Secondly, I found this book totally implausible- and being a fantasy is no excuse for that. Good fantasy is believable in its own context- eg if Rings of Power existed, then Tolkein's characters would behave as they do. Whereas in Gwyneth Jones' book, the economic and other disasters depicted are grimly plausible, but peoples' reactions to them are not. Basically the whole country collapses and instead of turning to Fascism or military rule, the country (incl the Armed Forces and police) accepts the rule of rock stars, implemented by hippies and crusties.

Thirdly, and related to the above, hardly anyone in the book does any kind of productive work- they're all either rock stars, politicians, layabouts, or soldiers, apart from a few scientists working with Olwen Devi. (A bit like Tolkein in this respect, where Sam Gamgee is the only hobbit with a real job!)This adds to the implausibility.

Fourthly, the book just rambles from one plot strand to another,with countless loose ends left hanging or forgotten.
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Bold as Love
Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones (Hardcover - 15 Oct 2005)
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