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Mappa Mundi Paperback – 11 Oct 2002

3.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Main Market Ed. edition (11 Oct. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330375679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330375672
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.9 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,748,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Paced like a cheetah and clever as anything, Justina Robson's second novel Mappa Mundi offers us a particularly scary take on the possibilities of technology, on what it is to be, and to remain. Half-Cheyenne FBI man Jude tracks down criminal masterminds who play with genetic perfection; his supposed partner Mary is there to stop him getting too close to those illegal experiments the US government wants to succeed. Disturbed psychologist Natalie is caught up with attempts to re-engineer sanity in human brains, horridly aware of the possibility that this new technology might be misused and anxious about her feckless drug-using flatmate and best friend.

This is a book that endlessly spins off intelligent ideas and keeps its momentum without ever bogging down in dumps of crude information. Justina Robson has a solid sense of where her characters come from, both geographically and emotionally, and even her villainess Mary is credibly motivated in every last shabby thing she does. Mappa Mundi asks some terrifying questions about technology--there are some things that cannot be uninvented, and, invented, are going to be used for good or ill. Justina Robson's first novel Silver Screen demonstrated her skill and intelligence; Mappa Mundi reveals her entire emotional and intellectual maturity. --Roz Kaveney

  • Mappa Mundi is joint winner of the Amazon.co.uk Writers' Bursaries 2000
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

An novel of hard SF exploring the nature of identity both inherited and engineered, from one of Britain's most acclaimed new talents.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Looking for something new to read, I came across Justina Robson's Mappa Mundi. It's intriguing title does not suggest the depth of ideas & concepts she has come up with in this book. I was torn from racing through it, because it's a hard book to put down, and taking my time to savour the story, structure and characters. Here is an author who has the power of her convictions and takes her character (and us) on a journey, which reaches an unexpected, but thought provoking conclusions on the nature of self and identity.
You do get to know Natalie, Jude, Mary and Dan well, all complex, flawed, and very human. Even the secondary characters like Natalie's father and White Horse; Jude's sister are well crafted.
Another aspect I enjoyed about this book was the writing; not too techno heavy, but the writer conveyed the concept of Selfware brilliantly & frighteningly indeed. Although the book is science fiction, the first part of the book it could happily work as just a thriller. There is a level of paranoia that runs nicely through out this book. This mutates into something darker and combined the clever speculative fiction leaves the reader with some profound and disturbing thoughts at the end.
A great read & I look forward to reading her next book.
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Format: Paperback
The premise of this book - a near-future exploration of the government sponsored development of a technology for mind control - is very promising and I got the sense that the author put a fair amount of research and thought into making it convincing. In the end, though, the author is not entirely successful, either as a gritty, action driven thriller type a la William Gibson (the rather simplistic, somewhat naive ending; convenient deus ex machina abilities for Natalie and Bobby X) or as a more character driven piece (the interestingly ambigious Mary Delany, who we seem to be encouraged to feel some sympathy for as a victim of her own ambition, is summarily converted to a cartoon villain and wiped out; Guskov, the lurking chameleonic menace, in the end does little more than unsuccessfully defend his own ideology and has no noticeable impact on the denouement).

All this is to say that the author chose a huge, complex subject which in the end she was unable to do full justice to: a lot of things are left unresolved, or are not resolved satisfactorily, in spite of the book's length. However, I was much more impressed by this book than some of her more recent novels, which are much lighter in tone and seem to have given up on interesting characters - rare and precious in SF - entirely.
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Format: Paperback
For a second published novel this is a truly exceptional piece of work. The characterisation is hit and miss at times – some seem rounded and relatively consistent, others snapshots with sudden and inexplicable motivations and actions. Where the novel really takes off for me is the beautiful blend of intriguing story-telling combined with intelligent philosophical speculation on a whole range of important and potentially world shattering concepts – from the nature of identity and knowledge to the deepest questions of ontological ’truth’. Of course the science fiction format is perfect for this, but it could be done so much worse than this (and often is). I suppose I have one issue with Justina’s approach (and this applies to other works of hers) – human beings in their fundamental attitudes and activities are somewhat static in her novels – whatever their environment, context, existential condition – they tend to react in the manner of early 21st century Westerners – she does not really touch the question of whether basic characteristics of this era of humanity might not change in very deep ways (something I tend to believe not only likely and possible – but inevitable). Of course an explanation from her on this point could easily be that the characters have to remain broadly recognisable and dealing with the world in familiar ways in order to engage with her work properly – but I still think there’s something missing here. That aside, hers is a much needed blast of femininity in a traditionally male dominated corner of literature.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
The first thing I noticed when reading the book was that Justina Robson must have put a lot of research into the novel as I could imagine that some of the technologies detailed may really just be around the corner. However, I found that at times it did get quite deep into some of the technicalities and science involved and this felt a little bit to heavy at times.

I also found that none of the characters within the novel really appealed to me. I know that some of this was due to the characterisation being weak and inconsistent at times, especially in regards to the supporting characters. However, even the characters that were well rounded and consistent couldn't keep me interested in their predicament. I will say however that the characters were more realistic than some basic good and bad characters, with none of them being completely admirable or despicable in their actions.

Overall, I have to say that this was not a book I enjoyed hugely. The parts of the book that should have had me on the edge of my seat just didn't work due to both the overall slow pace of the novel and the characterisation. I suspect some people will really like this book, especially those who would enjoy a deep philosophical dive into psychology, personal freedoms, etc. in the near future but it just wasn't for me.
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