In the Mouth of the Whale Paperback – 19 Jan 2012
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A writer of dazzling range, luminous intelligence and great humanity Alastair Reynolds" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
In the brilliant new hard SF novel from Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author Paul McAuley, a war between human and posthuman civilisations is about to erupt.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
"In the Mouth of the Whale" introduces a much wider range of elements compared to the first two novels in the Quiet War series-- which basically expounded a near-ish future history of solar system colonisation, with oodles of loving descriptions of habitat designs/ecosystem engineering. Here there are stronger characters, a much stronger narrative thread (in fact three of them, initially), some refreshingly different settings-- including a gas giant and various virtual environments, besides the obligatory hollowed out asteroids-- some stunningly good descriptive passages, and a real sense of the author starting to get solidly to grips with some substantive, timeless, human themes. Tyranny, love, the extent to which we have control over our destiny, you know the kind of thing. It's not that this stuff was absent from the earlier novels, just that it's explored with a surer hand in this one. Although the book describes a much altered and splintered version of far future humanity in the unfamiliar setting of another star system, it still manages to be a thoroughly human work (The True are Us, of course). Which is not to say that it's lacking in either hard science-y stuff, or some decent action sequences (indeed, one criticism of the Quiet War might be that it was too quiet- but with the one exception mentioned below, that's not a problem here).
It's true that there are echoes from other SF authors-- gas giant-based intelligence, virtual hells and the cryptosphere-like Library were bittersweet reminders of Iain M.Read more ›
One thread was related. It seemed to cover the early life of Maria-Hong Owen's daughter Sri, who became a gene wizard in the previous two books. The other two threads appear not to refer back to anything but cover the growing war for Cthuga (Fomalhaut's gas giant) and the adventures of a pair of 'cyberspace hackers' from the 'Library', who have been a chance to redeem themselves, after an earlier failure, by finding two individuals who have disappeared while on an important mission in the Library.
The 'Library' I found unconvincing. The sense of wonder at the the gene- and habitat-engineering carries over from the earlier books but the 'virtual reality' hijinks is hardly much in advance of Gibson, and feels out of place here. Who needs inner space when outer space is available as infinite, real, real estate?
All is not wonderful in this post-human world. Bottom of the heap are the Quicks,who have had humanity's worst traits gene-engineered out, but unluckily for them, this has enabled their enslavement by the True, exo-skeleton-wearing old-style humans, unfortunately still wreaking havoc with those bad old traits. The True want to confirm a hypothesis that a 'mind' inhabits Cthuga but have to defend it against a third post-human clade, the Ghosts, who have an even crazier reason for wanting it. The 'Whale' of the novel's title is a giant True construct which reaches down into Cthuga's gravity well.
All this the reader needs to piece together.Read more ›
It's nominally set in the same universe as the the Quiet War series, but about a thousand years in the future. While it continues the story of one of the characters from those books (which makes it hard to understand for those who haven't read them), it's otherwise a self-contained story. It's set in a solar system where the posthuman "Quick" have been enslaved by old-school "True" humans, while the Ghosts from the Quiet War series make a reappearance.
There are three storylines: one follows a mysterious child from (apparently) the time of Greater Brazil, one follows Isak, a "True" investigator who protects a data library from age-old viruses, and Ori, a Quick slave who gets caught up in the larger conflict for the system. None of these plotlines really works, and they come together for a rather confusing and underwhelming conclusion. A lot of the worldbuilding is equally confusing, making the whole thing rather hard to follow. In particular, it's never really made clear how Isak's "exorcisms" of computer systems work- they seem to take part in a matrix-esque simulation, but quite how it works, as with much of the detail of this world, is never explained.
One final quib I have is the rather frustrating lack of information as to what happened to the solar system's civilisation after the Quiet War- there are a few vague mentions of it, but they are, like so much else, never properly explained, and it would probably have been more satisfying were this an entirely standalone novel.
In short, this novel is nowhere near as good as the excellent first two novels of the Quiet War series.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this book quite gripping at times but overall it was unnecessarily obscure and the largely unexplained complexities in the plot seriously detracted from my enjoyment. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Peter Francis Bolwell
Imaginative storyline with beleivable characters and an ending that ties it all togetherPublished 21 months ago by tinytim
I have just finished reading 'In The Mouth of the Whale' and found it extraordinary, brilliant and captivating. Read morePublished on 8 July 2014 by Seymour Quilter
In the Mouth of the Whale is very different to The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun, but that's important: while the book still focuses on a number of characters and their stories,... Read morePublished on 24 April 2014 by PaddyAlton
Firstly let me say that I really enjoyed the book. The plot drags you forwards at a great pace. At the start it takes a bit of getting into because there is little context to... Read morePublished on 18 Dec. 2013 by Larry Jeram-Croft
This is a wonderful book, almost certainly the best novel I read this year, so it's a real disappointment to see it getting such indifferent and at times stupid reviews. Read morePublished on 23 Dec. 2012 by Amazon Customer
I have not read McAuley extensively, but enjoyed Pasquale's Angel and it's quasi steam-punk take on the Renaissance, and the first two instalments of The Quiet War series are great... Read morePublished on 19 Aug. 2012 by Charlie Quigley