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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow - again!
I'm going to have to think hard how to come up with something different to Ammonite132's comment; I just bought this book on a whim whilst in town. Started reading it at 5:30pm, finished at 8:15pm - I was absolutely enthralled, totally blown away, and am now enthusing about the story more than any other that I can remember.

It's a science fiction story, but...
Published on 7 Jun 2008 by Mark P.

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No.. not quite a wow
I purchased Kethani after reading a review in a Sci-fi magazine particularly as a comparison with John Wyndham - one of my all time favourite authors - was being made. Did it live up to the hype - well, yes and no. The Yorkshire setting and the way the novel is written from the point of view of a small number of village inhabitants is certainly reminiscent of Wyndham's...
Published on 14 Jun 2008 by Mrs Mac


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No.. not quite a wow, 14 Jun 2008
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This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
I purchased Kethani after reading a review in a Sci-fi magazine particularly as a comparison with John Wyndham - one of my all time favourite authors - was being made. Did it live up to the hype - well, yes and no. The Yorkshire setting and the way the novel is written from the point of view of a small number of village inhabitants is certainly reminiscent of Wyndham's method. Brown writes well and the book was an interesting and fairly pacy read. At times there is a feeling we could be in Arthur C Clarke territory tooo.

However something is missing. I kept waiting for a big plot twist, shock ending or some other 'unexpected' sub-plot. An intriguing premise is set-up part way through following an investigation into a murder which gave me an 'ah-ha this is significant' moment but it wasn't. What could have been an interesting sub or side plot wasn't followed through. If it hadn't been for the ending one might have thought another book or books were to follow but it seems not. It was almost as if Brown couldn't find a satisfying ending and it just goes out with too much of a whimper for me. Worth a read? - yes. Wyndham and Clarke? - not even close.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow - again!, 7 Jun 2008
By 
Mark P. (British Isles) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
I'm going to have to think hard how to come up with something different to Ammonite132's comment; I just bought this book on a whim whilst in town. Started reading it at 5:30pm, finished at 8:15pm - I was absolutely enthralled, totally blown away, and am now enthusing about the story more than any other that I can remember.

It's a science fiction story, but unlike most other stories in the genre it only uses the SF element as a core part of the idea, and then weaves the story around the lives and experiences of the characters over the years that follow.

It's touching and thought-provoking, and - as with all the good things in life - focusses on sitting around a fire in the local pub, chatting to close friends!

I'll be proselytising about this one to my wife, my parents, my colleagues; anyone who will listen. I'll probably have to buy myself another copy to lend out...

I'd be interested to see if Eric Brown can come up with other stories of the subsequent exploits in the wider universe alluded to within this novel, but even if he doesn't, I'll be certain to check out all of his other stuff.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kethani, 22 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
Wow. I hail from West Yorkshire where this story is set, and settled easily with this beautiful bleak environment. It is the first Eric Brown I have read, but have now already bought "Helix" on the strenght of this. The story is a good original concept with a very apt and well scripted end, although I had been wrong with my presumption of how i thought the story may have panned out.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Recalls Clarke's Tales from the White Hart, 5 Jan 2013
By 
Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
As the credits in this book reveal, this is a threaded collection of stories with common characters which are linked by the narrative of one of them. Each story appeared separately and the author has made a novel by putting them in chronological order and and using Khalid, a hospital doctor, to join them and put them in context. So I think that each story has its merits and it is a little unfair to judge it as a novel.

The introduction starts with the appearance across Earth of a hundred thousand Kethani (alien) obelisks and the revelation that by implanting nano-devices, humans can die and be resurrected. They return six months later and some are improved in character and temperament. The tales each cover a different influence over the years of the Kethani (who are never revealed). Each narrator discusses and event around the affects of resurrection. Does love last if you are immortal? Should you return to Earth or take the Kethani offer to do their work as interstellar explorers and ambassadors? What if one parent of a dying child is religious and believes the child should not accept the implants?

The audience for each tale is a group of regulars in a village pub in northern England and there are strong similarities to Arthur C Clarke's, Tales from the White Hart. Each has an insight to give. One man is a "ferryman" who collects the bodies of the dead and takes them to the nearest obelisk for transport to the Kethani starship (also never revealed). Another is a policeman who investigates a mysterious murder linked to the aliens. The doctor implants the nano-machines and a catholic priest tries to reconcile the church view of glorious resurrection through faith with the all to practical and demonstrable nanite version.

The author deliberately conceals the McGuffin. The Kethani and galactic civilisation are not shown. Nor is the resurrection process. Returnees have vague only ideas of what happened to them. This slightly disappoints those who want a better picture of what the Human race gets. But overall, the stories are thought provoking if not really ground breaking.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Fails to Deliver, 28 Jan 2010
By 
W. Dean "Let us to't pell-mell; if not to hea... (Bedfordshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
I'd not realised that this book was really a collection of short stories before reading, but now, all has become clear. From the seeds of the excellent premise, and the welcome change of a British-Asian main character, we see grown... rather less than I'd hoped for, actually. Each now character seems more insipid and uninspired than the last, and after the admittedly gut-wrenchingly sad first couple of chapters, I quickly found myself mired in repetition as we look at the same ethical questions from only slightly-removed angles. Hints as to the true nature of the Kethani seem cliche and are not followed up on, and in general I found the writing style quite contrived ('Ferrymen' for the human workers taking the dead to the 'Onward stations'), and not to say patronisingly middle-class. It's a real shame, because the germ of an idea is fresh, and obviously a labour of love.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good book but not one that will set the world alight, 29 Oct 2008
By 
Peter Debney (Ilkley, Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
The principle theme of the book is eternal life here and now. Is the negation of death desirable? What is the effect that it will have on society? Does life need death to make it worth living or is striving for achievement due to our limited time here on Earth?

The Kéthani's gift affects all the character's lives. Some choose artificial life and some natural death, but these choices are never without consequences. Some have to make choices for others, such as their young or mentally handicapped children; should their convictions deny those in their responsibility the chance of life and their own choice?

The easy resurrection affects society. Murders die out, as the victim can return six months later to convict the guilty. Medicine changes from preserving life and treating serious diseases, to easing the passage of the afflicted. Those who return a subtly changed: their angers and aggressions are gone making them law abiding and constructive citizens. They are more humane, but are they less human?

Kéthani is both thought provoking and very readable. While it fails is in a lack of overall plot and characterisation, it raises many interesting questions regarding mortality and its place in society.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, 7 Jun 2008
By 
Murf61 (Newry, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
I received this book at 7.45 this morning and was totally engrossed for the next 5 hours. Now I have finished, I want to read it again! This is a beautiful story of humanity being 'helped' by seemingly benign aliens to achieve immortality and venture out into the stars. It reminded me of the Uplift series by David Brin in that respect, but the Yorkshire setting surprisingly softened the tone.
What can I say? I was totally blown away by Eric Brown's book and I would recommend it to anyone who is despairing of the human race and the mess we are creating of our home. A utopian get-out clause maybe, but a hopeful dream of human potential is one worth holding on to.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying, 1 Feb 2009
By 
Chris Lines "not-Swiss Chris" (Zurich, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
The anticipated twist does not materalise with the Kéthani's purpose and we are left with an unknown. Alien altruism, apparently. And what happens to the population of the Earth when all those people are resurrected to live for ever? Do they continue to breed on an already over-populated planet? Some emigrate, true, but enough to stablilise the population? And why is there such bland acceptance of the resurrectees? I imagine religions would have something to say on the subject. Readable, but I prefer my loose endings tided up.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting, 9 Jan 2010
This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
Not actually a novel but rather a series of short stories previously published elsewhere, cobbled together with a linking narrative to produce a kind of Martian Chronicles ... less well written than Bradbury but not dissimilar in style and concept to John Wyndham. The short story publication history explains why often the description comes across as repetitious - a shame it wasn't edited more strongly to sort this. Nevertheless it's still a gripping enough and competently written story which is well worth reading - although don't expect a grand finale of an ending: like the 'history' it chronicles this doesn't finish with a big bang or a shout - more like the sound of a door being quietly shut: and in that respect it has another similarity with many of Wyndham's classic novels. However, to my mind it really didn't need the coda at the end: it would have been a stronger finish giving a greater impact without it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meditation on Mortality, 5 Aug 2009
This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
My first three impressions in reading "Kéthani" were: (1) this is a collection of short stories, written in the style of Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles"; (2) this is a pleasant, mellow read; and (3) these characters drink a lot.

Upon finishing the book my impression had not changed much, except I realized that for all of the book's genuine "gemutlichkeit," it was a serious meditation on mortality, religion, and ethics. I further realized that the Kéthani for all their apparent benevolence and understated drive, supported by an unspoken belief in manifest destiny, were sinister.

The sinister nature of the mysterious aliens and the underlying sense of danger only surface one or two times in the novel and are quickly ignored or brushed away through the characters' rationalizations. And yet, upon completion of the novel, the feeling remains that the humans have been tricked or duped in some way. In fact, our protagonist, Khalid, says in the final chapter that "I wondered whether to tell Sam and Stuart that we had been lured to the stars by an. . .an impostor." Further, in the epilogue, Khalid says cryptically that "the reason our benefactors selected us for the task was a little more complex than than we first thought." This is the extent of our illumination. At he end of the novel we know no more about the aliens than we did at the beginning. But this of course is the point because ultimately the book is a meditation on religion and life.

As Tolkien pointed out in his short story "A Leaf by Niggle," we are on a journey to death. In "Kéthani," however, the aliens interrupt that journey and substitute a possibility for immortality. Humans with their complex and innate capacity for religion are disturbed by this interruption and thereby have to re-boot. Some incorporate the Kéthani into their religious framework; others de-construct or react violently. The Kéthani could be angels or devils or simply higher sentient beings. We don't know and Brown does not provide an answer.

I recommend the novel but I do have a few reservations. First, the book feels like a collection of short stories. As a result there is a lot of repetition. This repetition arises from the fact that the author has to apprise new readers at the beginning of each story where we are each time he starts a new "story." Second, the author does not give you any answers to your questions for the simple reason that the protagonist does not have any answers. And since the work is a first-person narrative, we only know what the protagonist knows.

All in all, the novel was a pleasant experience; a welcome respite from the hardware of science fiction, with its incipient violence. In some ways the work is a throwback to the science fiction of the fifties and sixties, when science fiction was a place of ideas and we could easily compare the novel with Clarke's "Childhood's End," Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles," or the original "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
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Kethani
Kethani by Eric Brown (Paperback - 6 May 2008)
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