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Riddley Walker (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Hardcover – 8 Nov 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (8 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575119519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575119512
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.2 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 420,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Funny, terrible, haunting and unsettling, this book is a masterpiece The Observer"

Book Description

One of the greatest novels of the twentieth century joins the SF Masterwork list.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This came to me highly recommended; praised by mainstream literary critics when it was first published and listed in David Pringle's 'Science Fiction: The Hundred Best Novels' (which, if you can get hold of a copy, is a superb overview of one hundred SF novels published between 1949 and 1984).
Riddley writes his own story - in his own language - of his life on the outskirts of Canterbury, far in the future and long after nuclear devastation.
It's a difficult, though rewarding read. Riddley writes in a variation of English which, though degenerate, has its own dark poetic beauty.
Hoban manages to effortlessly create myths based upon our contemporary lives, using words, place names and phrases which have become corrupted into synonyms such as 'gallack seas' (galaxies) and 'deacon termination' (decontamination).
A pagan religion and philosophy has evolved - centred around ceremonies of performance and revelation - which combines beliefs involving the Moon and animal spirits and is entwined with the conflated legends of 'St Eustace' and 'Eusa' (which we presume was the USA) who split the 'littl shynin man - the Addom' in two and brought darkness to the world.
As in Anthony Burgess' 'A Clockwork Orange' with which this book is inevitably compared, the dialect is at first daunting, but one easily settles into the style and realises that this novel could not have been written any other way. It's rich and poetic and full of hidden references to the past which have to be teased out of the text.
One could have forgiven Hoban for writing a tale demonstrating (as Walter M Miller did so ably in his similar novel, 'A Canticle for Leibowitz') that humans never learn, and that we are doomed as a species to repeat our mistakes.
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Format: Paperback
This book is extraordinary. And hugely influential. You know the very middle bit of Cloud Atlas? A direct line to Riddley Walker. And Will Self's The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future. And lots of others (you will recognise similarities to The Road)

Hoban's tale is set in the far future, where humans scratch out an existence, thousands of years after a nuclear apocalypse has destroyed humanity and civilisation. Knowledge has been lost, history has ended and what remains is a vague memory of better times. Of boats in the sky and pictures on the wind and great shining wheels.

Riddley lives in Kent and the book is his tale. Written in his hand, and in his language. And it's here where things get really difficult. Because the English Riddley talks, and writes in, is not the English that you and I know. It is an English that has been nearly forgotten and then remembered, but at the same time being re-evolved. The spelling is not what you know, and you have to work hard, often really hard, to understand it. You will, inevitably, have to read parts out to understand what they mean.

This put me off for about six months after someone bought me this book. But don't let it put you off. Because what the language does is drag you completely and utterly into Riddley's world. it slows you down and you read at the speed he thinks. Which is a lot slower than you or I. So it is a slow, hard read.
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Format: Paperback
It is indeed rare for a book to evoke such passion in its readers, and it is those books so utterly idiosyncratic and unique that achieve this feat. Like one of the other reviewers I am now on my fourth copy, having given away all previous copies to friends, sometimes with a little too much fervour perhaps. Riddley Walker has a habit of turning its readers into evangelists for the cause, a statement that would no doubt horrify Russell Hoban, a modest voice throughout. The principal voice is that of Riddley Walker, who guides us selflessly through post-apocalyptic Kent and its strange denizens, inhabitants of a world much like ours. Human foibles abound in a land of strange machinery, arcane ritual, desperate survival and the archaeology of the future. It would almost be best if this book had never been written for, like Homer and Beowulf, this is a verbal narrative, an epic tale of humanity's failure and success, an oral history. This book is designed to be listened to, consumed through aural means, so that your eyes can remain transfixed by the storyteller's lucid dreaming. One can imagine the oral Riddley Walker getting the Seamus Heaney treatment, as it speaks to us from the past and the future with the voice of a poet, whilst its suggestions and its lessons are all too applicable to our present. And while you're at it, read all Hoban's other novels too...
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Format: Paperback
It's a rare thing indeed when an an author can combine genius with ingenuity. Hoban can. Aside from The Lord of the Rings, Hoban's Riddley Walker is the most imaginative piece of fiction I've ever read. This is a novel to savor, to prolong, if possible, to pore over, to backtrack upon, to celebrate.
Do not be put off by the post-apocalyptic plot description. This is not your father's Neville Schute story. Nor is it Stephen King. This is a multi-layered, cosmic, end of days tale, that far transcends all other entries in "the genre." Hoban has been compared to Joyce, but don't be put off by that either, if you struggled through Finnegan's Wake, as most do. This is accessible. Highly so. Sure, you have to invest some effort and if you are the type of reader who has to have everything conveyed immediately to you, you will not enjoy this work. Hoban is essentially playing a game with his reader. If you enjoy riddles ("Walker is my name and I am the same. Riddley Walker. Walking my riddles where ever theyve took me and walking them now on this paper the same."), Hoban will definitely keep you guessing. This is probably modern fiction's most "interactive" novel. The progressive revelations clue you in as you "walk" with Riddley through Inland (England). The path is so devious, yet so honest, at the same time, that you never want Riddley to seperate from you (a motif in the work) and you never want to lose his companionship.
Suffice it to say that I've been so obsessed over this book that I have joined a Hoban fan club and I can't wait to read more from this astounding author. If you can read updated Chaucer, you should have no difficulty grasping Riddley's vernacular, though there are some similarities to earlier English speech.
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