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Budrys is best known for 'Rogue Moon', a cold and gripping novel that is considered by many critics to be a precursor of the New Wave SF revolution of the mid 1960s. If you haven't read 'Rogue Moon' and are interested in the development of well-written SF, buy it now in Gollancz SF Masterworks.

Equally important to my way of thinking is 'Michaelmas', which Gollancz published in hardcover around 1975 and which, in my opinion, deserves a singleton release in Masterworks - which I suspect has not happened due to probable limited sales of 'Rogue Moon' (which was, incidentally, issued in paperback by Gollancz as part of their first crack at a definitive SF library, the 'Gollancz Classic SF' line of 1986-1989).

'Michaelmas' is the story of an eponymous roving journalist/TV presenter who carries with him -unbenknownst to the populace - an advanced AI housed in a briefcase. By plugging the AI into the telephone system, Michaelmas and the AI effectively run the world, using their collective cleverness to influence public opinion, head dangerous developments off at the past and overall positively affect the mass media to keep the world on an even keel.

The importance of this book is that when published in 1975, the internet we know was still some time off. In the next decade, William Gibson would take these ideas and run with them in a far more explosive style, but Budrys' effort precedes Gibson and in his tale of covert Artificial Intelligence interference points toward cyberpunk icons like The Turing Police and what we now thik of as the upcoming computer intelligence singularity supposedly due around 2028. Budrys also championed Samuel R Delany, whom he had described as 'the best SF writer in the world' by the late sixties. Delany, of course, had done human-machine jackplug interfaces by that time and was employing what he called GI ('general information', an internet that downloads directly into human brains from satellite servers) in his 1970s novels.

Besides all this, Budrys at his best was a very good, urbane writer and Michaelmas has great charm. Suitable for hardcore SF fans and general readers, 'Michaelmas' is a gem. I'm less keen on the other titles here, but 'Michaelmas' belongs in every serious SF library.

Stephen E. Andrews, '100 Must Read Science Fiction Novels'
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