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Light (Kefahuchi Tract Trilogy Book 1) by [Harrison, M. John]
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Light (Kefahuchi Tract Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Length: 434 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Amazon Review

Light marks that fine writer M John Harrison's first return to the heartland of SF--including spaceships and hair-raising interstellar chases--since his apocalyptic anti-space opera The Centauri Device (1975).

The heavy SF action begins in 2400. Space-going humanity is the latest of many civilizations to be baffled by the impenetrable Kefahuchi Tract; that vast stellar region where an unshielded singularity makes physics itself unreliable. Along its accessible fringe, the "Beach", solar systems are littered with crazy, abandoned devices used to probe the Tract since before life began on Earth. A whole dead-end culture is based on beachcombing this rubble of industrial archaeology...

25th-century characters include a woman who's sacrificed almost everything to merge with the AI "mathematics" of a crack military spacecraft; a former daredevil who once surfed black holes but has retreated into a virtual reality tank; the lady proprietor of the Circus of Pathet Lao, with an alien freakshow and a hidden agenda; and a variety of raunchy, smelly, gene-sculpted lowlife, some comic, some menacing. Many are not what they seem.

Meanwhile in 1999 London, physicists Kearney and Tate--remembered in 2400 as the fathers of interstellar flight--are getting nowhere. Kearney's personal problems occupy familiar Harrison territory: urban paranoia, a seedily unreliable guru, bad sex, guilty rituals to propitiate a metaphysical-seeming threat called the Shrander--a pursuing image out of nightmare. In the lab, both Kearney and Tate fear the increasing quantum strangeness of their results.

The cosmological wonders and hazards of the Beach form a backdrop to space pursuits and violent skirmishes whose duration is measured in nanoseconds, reported in tensely lyrical prose. Eventually everything comes together as it should--even that oppressive 1999 story strand--with revelations, transformation, transcendence, and ultimate hope. Harrison demands your full attention and rewards it richly. --David Langford

Review

" Uproarious, breath-taking, exhilarating...This is a novel of full spectrum literary dominance...It is a work of-- and about-- the highest order." -- "Guardian"
" An increasingly complex and dazzling narrative...Light depicts its author as a wit, an awesomely fluent and versatile prose stylist, and an SF thinker as dedicated to probing beneath surfaces as William Gibson is to describing how the world looks when reflected in them....SF fans and skeptics alike are advised to head towards this Light." -- "Independen"t
" Light is a literary singularity: at one and the same time a grim, gaudy space opera that respects the physics, and a contemporary novel that unflinchingly revisits the choices that warp a life. It' s almost unbearably good." -- Ken MacLeod, author of "Engine City"
" At last M. John Harrison takes on quantum mechanics. The first classic of the quantum century, Light is a folded-down future history bound together by quantum exotica and human endurance. Taut as Hemingway, viscerally intelligent, startlingly uplifting, Harrison' s ideas have a beauty that unpacks to infinity." -- Stephen Baxter, award-winning author of "Evolution and Coalescent
"
" Harrison' s novel is a cleverly assembled contemplation of how choices make lives and of opening quantum mechanical doors on bizarre potential futures." -- "Booklist"
" Surely one of the best novels of the year... . Deeply satisfying ... the final chapters are a marvel of transcendence, reconciliation and redemption." -- "San Francisco Chronicle Books"
" Brilliant, reality-bending SF.... This is space opera for the intelligensia." -- "Publishers Weekly," starred review
" Succeeds in evoking the sense of wonder that science fiction readers look for in the best of the genre.... Harrison brings an up-to-date sensibility to the hoary conceits of science fiction." -- "The New York Times Book Review
"" Light is mind-bending in both its conceptual framework and literary deftness." -- "Entertainment Weekly"

"Uproarious, breath-taking, exhilarating...This is a novel of full spectrum literary dominance...It is a work of--and about--the highest order."--"Guardian"
"An increasingly complex and dazzling narrative...Light depicts its author as a wit, an awesomely fluent and versatile prose stylist, and an SF thinker as dedicated to probing beneath surfaces as William Gibson is to describing how the world looks when reflected in them....SF fans and skeptics alike are advised to head towards this Light."--"Independen"t
"Light is a literary singularity: at one and the same time a grim, gaudy space opera that respects the physics, and a contemporary novel that unflinchingly revisits the choices that warp a life. It's almost unbearably good."--Ken MacLeod, author of "Engine City"
"At last M. John Harrison takes on quantum mechanics. The first classic of the quantum century, Light is a folded-down future history bound together by quantum exotica and human endurance. Taut as Hemingway, viscerally intelligent, startlingly uplifting, Harrison's ideas have a beauty that unpacks to infinity."--Stephen Baxter, award-winning author of "Evolution and Coalescent
"
"Harrison's novel is a cleverly assembled contemplation of how choices make lives and of opening quantum mechanical doors on bizarre potential futures."--"Booklist"
"Surely one of the best novels of the year.... Deeply satisfying ... the final chapters are a marvel of transcendence, reconciliation and redemption."--"San Francisco Chronicle Books"
"Brilliant, reality-bending SF.... This is space opera for the intelligensia."--"Publishers Weekly," starred review
"Succeeds in evoking the sense of wonder that science fiction readers look for in the best of the genre.... Harrison brings an up-to-date sensibility to the hoary conceits of science fiction."--"The New York Times Book Review
""Light is mind-bending in both its conceptual framework and literary deftness."--"Entertainment Weekly"

Uproarious, breath-taking, exhilarating...This is a novel of full spectrum literary dominance...It is a work of and about the highest order. "Guardian"
An increasingly complex and dazzling narrative...Light depicts its author as a wit, an awesomely fluent and versatile prose stylist, and an SF thinker as dedicated to probing beneath surfaces as William Gibson is to describing how the world looks when reflected in them....SF fans and skeptics alike are advised to head towards this Light. "Independen"t
Light is a literary singularity: at one and the same time a grim, gaudy space opera that respects the physics, and a contemporary novel that unflinchingly revisits the choices that warp a life. It s almost unbearably good. Ken MacLeod, author of "Engine City"
At last M. John Harrison takes on quantum mechanics. The first classic of the quantum century, Light is a folded-down future history bound together by quantum exotica and human endurance. Taut as Hemingway, viscerally intelligent, startlingly uplifting, Harrison s ideas have a beauty that unpacks to infinity. Stephen Baxter, award-winning author of "Evolution and Coalescent
"
"Harrison s novel is a cleverly assembled contemplation of how choices make lives and of opening quantum mechanical doors on bizarre potential futures." "Booklist"
"Surely one of the best novels of the year . Deeply satisfying the final chapters are a marvel of transcendence, reconciliation and redemption." "San Francisco Chronicle Books"
"Brilliant, reality-bending SF.... This is space opera for the intelligensia." "Publishers Weekly," starred review
"Succeeds in evoking the sense of wonder that science fiction readers look for in the best of the genre.... Harrison brings an up-to-date sensibility to the hoary conceits of science fiction." "The New York Times Book Review
""Light is mind-bending in both its conceptual framework and literary deftness." "Entertainment Weekly""

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2184 KB
  • Print Length: 434 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (27 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009AE768Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #60,153 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Interesting how this book polarises opinion. I loved it. I fail to see how some reviewers view it as "infantile" or "puerile", referencing the few sex scenes and the character name Billy Anker. Playful and honest, but not puerile. And I can see how the opening is a bit disorientating: it does take a fair while before you can tell what's going on, and even longer before the threads start weaving together. But that's part of the manic pleasure it provides as you're carried along through one atmospheric environment after another. I thought the writing was absolutely extraordinary in places, tight, precise, evocative. Yes, it is a bit overwrought in places, overwritten, too stylish for its own good. But overall, it's stunning. The characters aren't particularly sympathetic, but one of the strands (Seria Mau) concerning a human in a symbiotic relationship with a starship, is superbly imagined and moving; as another reviewer noted, it captures actual sensation of N-dimensional space fantastically (comparable in quality to Christopher Priest's capturing of the perception of infinite width in Inverted World). Read it, unless you only like thick books which come in series and have swords on the front.
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By TomCat on 18 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
I've read in numerous places, which I'm far too lazy to reference here, that M. John Harrison's 2002 novel Light does for Space Opera what his Viriconium sequence did for Fantasy back in the 1980s. This is quite the claim, as Viriconium towers over the landscape of postmodern fantasy literature as a definite and unchallenged Olympus; the book that finally did-away with the literary naivety of the field by drawing direct attention to the problematic artificiality of secondary-world High Fantasy, all the while remaining deeply enamoured of the tropes, traditions and history of the genre; a genre with which Harrison is clearly well-versed and much in love.

To think that the same writer could reinvigorate not just one, but two distinct genres both of which, let's be honest, suffer from more than their fair share of cliché, repetition and imaginative exhaustion is difficult to believe, but having read the frankly staggering (and not to mention extraordinarily beautiful) Light, I'm definitely coming round to the idea. It's 30-odd years since Harrison seemingly abandoned New Wave sci-fi with his early (and criminally underrated) novel The Centauri Device, but his forays into the lands of Fantasy and (later) Literary Fiction were obviously time well spent, as Light meshes a keen commitment to psychological realism with a penchant for inventive, stripped-back imagist prose. The book toys with and deconstructs many of the familiar tenets of science fiction, but in a joyous and celebratory way, never sneering. Harrison's frame of reference is galaxy-spanning, and Light is replete with subtle (and not-so-subtle) tributes to the canon of famous (and not-so-famous) science fiction literature, T.V. and film.
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Format: Paperback
I was not aware of any of the hype surrounding this book until after I had read it - so my views were not influenced by propaganda - I also have no author bias. I find the comparisons to Iain M Banks very interesting. To be honest, Banks is one of the few SF writers I read consistently, but I struggled with 'Look to Windward' and had to give up half way through. This was something completely different. I found Harrison's style dark, harrowing, brutal but always stylish and compelling - to the extent that I wanted to re-read it immediately after finishing it. Some of the other SF authors get bogged down in overtly technical aspects of science or they give descriptive text which while sometimes impressive, detracts from the characters themselves. Harrison does the descriptive bit but ignores the waffle - he achieves in 50 clear, harsh and vivid words what takes others 5000. The only way I can compare it is to the first time you see Pulp Fiction - it was shocking, unreal and awesome in equal measures. For me it was a masterpiece, like nothing that was seen before it - with style and content you won't forget - ever. The comparisons get more similar when you look at the characters; they are also unpleasant and more importantly human. The story deals with humanity, darkness, internal conflict and ultimately character progression in a way that I feel is completely new and uncharted. If you haven't read the book yet, please do so, but do it with an open mind. I really feel that this is a book that many SF writers would have loved to have written and even if they had the abilities to do so, they may not have had Harrison's bravery to publish it. It has taken the game to a new and exciting level.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read this, I found the blurb on the back of the book to be the most misleading I think I have ever come across. Not necessarily in a bad way, merely in that the three mysterious objects is suggests are the heart of the book, are not the central narrative drive or quest of the characters at all and are only almost incidentally explained in the very ending. Though the book has plenty of wonder, imagination and creativity in its world building, it is actually about its main characters, which can be quite refreshing in science fiction books where often the characters are dwarfed by the science.

Having said that, the characters are troubling. Humans craving to surrender their bodies to merge with quantum infinities, clones, holograms, virtual projections, artificially created lifeforms, all questing to be human, to have a real body. Yet a relative immateriality doesn't seem to prevent any of them having sex, which happens a lot. Some of them are trying to fill their personal psychological voids, some seek after love and others just wish to have a physical sensation. So in part the book is an exploration of the struggle to be human.

The book is described as space opera, a genre label I've never understood the meaning of to be honest. The space bit I get and accede as far as this book is concerned. But operatic too me suggests not only a wide sweep, which again this book effortlessly meets, but a heightened sense of emotion. Now while Harrison deals with emotion a plenty as suggested in the characters' various quests for identity and to take the form of something other than themselves, the emotional pitch is a curiously flat one.
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