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Gradisil (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 9 Nov 2006
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Roberts supplies convincing details - his characters are flawed, cranky and driven. At times, this is reminiscent of Robert Heinlein at his best. (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES)
The author manages to deflect attention from most of the improbabilities and include an occasional anti-consumerist message, while developing his own language, spelling and finally - and most riskily - letters. Classic Roberts. (Jon Courtenay Grimwood THE GUARDIAN)
Roberts¿ use of Scandinavian legend as an allegory to the magnetic boost technologies he uses to put planes into orbit has the smack of an SF trope that¿ll become a universal cliché in a few years. (STARBURST)
"Against the backdrop of Gradisil's nation-building odyssey, Roberts impressively explores a variety of themes. It all adds up to proof, if any were really needed, that Roberts belongs in the first rank of hard SF writers." (SFX)
This is Roberts¿ best novel to date, and quite conceivably a harbinger of greatness. (Nick Gevers LOCUS)
"A well measured political science fiction novel with a darkly realistic tone throughout. The fact that the Gyeroffy family remains so flawed and yet so credible throughout is testament not just to good science fiction, but good writing in general." (DREAMWATCH)
A thought provoking read. (BBC FOCUS) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
The new novel from 'the king of high concept SF' (The Guardian)See all Product description
Top customer reviews
What's sad is that Adam will always be a niche author, because he embodies all the qualities which people assume science fiction doesn't have - fully developed characters, human-centred bittersweet stories, a deliciously innovative literary style - while still building his stories around crazy scientific and technological ideas. The best comparison I can make is with Stanislaw Lem, who died a few weeks back (very sad) - some of you might have come across 'Solaris'. If you haven't... it's the sort of style you might get if Kafka and Solzhenitsyn ganged up on Isaac Asimov and beat the crap out of him in a darkened alleyway. That's my best attempt.
What makes Adam stand apart for me, though, is his characters. They're not the emotionless, super-rational cardboard cutouts that often crop up in the genre. They are always deeply human: they're emotional and passionate, often giving to uttering non-sequiturs, or doing stupid things and not regretting them until much later. They're making their way as best they can, in a world where baffling, unfair, Kafka-esque things happen to them. And the worlds in which they live are both the same as ours, but different - physically, they might be completely different (flying to the moon in a biplane?), but on a human level, they're still populated by people making selfish, stupid, emotional, deeply familiar decisions.
I don't know how Adam approaches his work; I've never read any interviews, or seen anything about him. But one theme I see coming out of his books is the idea of our relationship with technology being difficult, almost abusive - technology mindlessly making things more complicated while we struggle to live our lives in a way we can still understand. It's not about consumerism, or corporate evil. It's not about any sort of conscious will at all. It's just about how we get ourselves into a mess, and then have to live with it. And whereas with most books things can be neatly squared away at the end, Adam's stories never seem to fit into our neat, shrink-wrapped preconceptions. That, for me, is his greatest skill and his great triumph.
I'm still only halfway through reading this. I know the ending will be sad, or at best bittersweet - that's Adam's style. But it'll be great: I am utterly, totally confident that he won't let me down. Two things I am sure of; I'll be ambushed by weirdness a few more times before the end of the book; and I will feel these characters for every moment of it. I can't wait
This book definitely fits within the category of hard sci-fi. It is firmly grounded in the reality that any kind of space colonisation is a massively expensive and demanding enterprise. Even so, it relies on the invention of a technology which is described by Roberts in just the right amount of detail to make it plausible within the book's storyline.
The themes explored in the book are reminiscent of Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (S.F. MASTERWORKS), as well as some of the works of Phillip K. Dick. As the book develops, the author experiments by telling the story from varying characters' points of reference and different styles of writing. He also manages to factor in an gradual evolution in the English language over the generations spanned by the novel, an attempt that may seem a bit jarring, but not overwhelmingly so.
Certainly, this book is not for everybody. However, I am awarding it five stars as I certainly appreciated its refreshingly different approach to sci-fi storytelling.
After the title come interminable pages of poorly executed sub-political claptrap wherein no-one does anything for any readily discernable reason. Spanning three generations, the dysfunctional protagonists orbit the principal charcter in a helpess way that never gives a clue that any of them are other than either cogs in the machine of destiny or - more teeth grindingly - hapless chaff before her indomitable will.
Run, save yourselves.
I would put this book apart from his other works, as this one could quite appeal to the non-sci fi fan. Sci fi fans looking for ultra-futuristic fantasys, aliens and intergalactic wars should avoid this book as it is more about human nature and politics, and its relationship with technology.