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The Child Garden (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 11 Aug 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (11 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575076909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575076907
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 294,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

'Angela Carter meets Derek Jarman's Jubilee in a Max Ernst landscape. Excellent' Time Out

From the Back Cover

In a semi-tropical London, surrounded by paddy-fields, the people photosynthesise. The Consensus, a vast DNA unit, oversees the country. The young are raised in Child Gardens and educated by viruses which control their behaviour. Nonconformism is ‘treated’. Information, culture, law and politics are now biological functions.

This is the story of Lucy, the immortal tumour, Joseph the Postman, whose mind is an information storehouse for others, and Milena an incredible musician, who has a secret, lost even to herself. Milena is resistant to viruses. It will make her one of the most extraordianry women of her age. Her secret is hidden somewhere – in the Child Garden.

“Remarkable … extraordinarily grotesquely convincing”
THE TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT

“Ryman describes a decayed, over-populated London of magic and squalor and high science; if you read one novel this year, it should be this one”
LONDON EVENING STANDARD

“The rich texture of language and imagery are beautiful … Angela Carter meets Jarman’s ‘Jubilee’ in a Max Ernst landscape. Excellent.”
TIME OUT

“I can’t imagine anyone not getting charmed doo-lally by this book. ”
CITY LIMITS

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Child Garden is one of the few books I have read that has really moved me, and one of even fewer that I would instantly cite as the best book I have read in my life (and I've read quite a few!). The future it describes could be a dystopian commentary of our own society, but instead it's a story about people, who are ultimately the most important components of any society. It's a future where people are still flawed and petty, and life is not easy of perfect, and that there are always some people who will stand out and make their mark on history. Milena is one such person, a heroine who grows up during the course of the book, and painted so well by Ryman that your perception of her changes as she does. For any London dweller the description the city with a coral reef and rice paddies, sub tropical temperatures and the night lit by oil lamps is one that will strike into the heart and awake the imagination. You cannot help but be touched by its depth, and a little haunted by the future that we could all inherit. Read it, you won't be sorry.
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Format: Paperback
In a future version of London (which still carries many curious echoes of our own age) global warming has produced a subtropical climate. Plant DNA introduced into human beings gives them the ability to photosynthesise (and an unnatural purple cast to their skins). People are educated by virus so that they literally catch learning (and propaganda) like a disease and the whole of society is governed by the Consensus - a kind of collective vegetable mind made up of democratic 'Readings' of peoples thoughts. Child Gardens are orphanages but they are symbolic of the whole society because life expectancy has been dramatically reduced so that in a sense everyone is a relative child. The death of childhood seems to be one of the underlying themes of the novel. Milena is an actress (amongst many other things) who has escaped her 'Reading' and is immune to the viruses. The book is the story of her life as she struggles with love (of an unusual kind) becomes the most significant artist of her day and finally has to confront the Consensus.
But enough of the plot. It's the colloquial dialogue and the matter of fact (almost banal) pieces of the novel which give it so much power. They offset the strange and grotesque elements until it all seems perfectly reasonable. Its kind of like East Enders wandering into a stage set from one of the better Dr. Who episodes and then just rolling up their sleeves and getting on with the same old soap opera (but the ending is far from banal). This novel could only have been written by a British author and for this British reader at least it is refreshing now and again to read science fiction that isn't centred on America.
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Format: Paperback
What an incredible book this is! The premise outlined in the blurb is promising (children grown in gardens in a tropical london educated via viruses). Seems gloriously messed up and it is easy to happily resign yourself to an exploration of these themes and their ramifications...

Instead you will read of the emotional and physical journey of one of the most remarkable heroines in modern literature. It is through her that we are guided around this very odd world. There are some fantastic shifts in narrative pace and style. Apologies for ruining anything for you but there is a breathtakingly beautiful 50 page chapter which leaves you in such a tangle of emotions that you realise you are totally embroiled in the world of the book and the peaks and troughs of Milena. It is a blistering moment of clarity when all those little questions, that sci-fi books like to throw up, are given some kind of disjointed but final closure. The most fantastic thing about that chapter - indeed, the reason I am writing this review, is that the end leaves you only halfway through a book which you will remember forever. I have been searching for something new this heartfelt in sci-fi for a while and I have found it. Geoff Ryman is one to watch.
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Format: Paperback
It is years scince I read "Child Garden"- I think it was 9 years ago or thereabouts. I've re-read this masterpiece 3 times scince then. Each time I can't believe how much the book changes. Milena, the heroine, is fabulous. You will love the Bears and the decription of the eastend and the southbank in London.
Ryman's future London is hot, humid and covered in Rhodopsin (a photosynthetic chemical) and bamboo. People are almost dickensian and elaborate. The world has scaned the limits of genetic engineering and amongst this Milena looks for reality, love and truth. Stays with you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a strange story with lots of very original themes, not always an easy read as it incorporates many time shifts. The end of the book is odd, it is a very personal thing to decide if it works. Worth reading as it is certainly different.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was my first Geoff Ryman read, and a wholly fascinating one. Ryman takes us into a future of ecological and psychological disaster, in which the one redeemimg feature is the power of love. The book could be seen as a grim warning for humanity if it does not now take steps to avoid further pollution of the planet, and fails to understand the power of the mind for good and for evil and to educate its children to develop their minds accordingly. Worth every penny and every minute expended.
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