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Stamping Butterflies (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 4 Aug 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (4 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057507650X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575076501
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,220,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

¿This is a virtuoso lesson in bringing artistic unity to radically dissonant elements. It is also the novel of a writer with real heart. STAMPING BUTTERFLIES is a book written with superb technique by a writer who never forgets that technique alone is not the whole point.¿ (Roz Kaveney TIME OUT)

Turning the idea of the past determining the future upside down, this thriller takes an attempted assassination of the US President in the Seventies and an emperor awaiting his death in ancient China and creates a riveting read. (ESQUIRE)

Grimwood imbues his creations with startling psychological complexity. Marrakech is brought to vivid life, along with its inhabitants. Grimwood has produced, imago-like, an inspiring butterfly of humanity and hope from a hard shell of despair. (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

Grimwood has written some of the best SF in the world over the past five years and Stamping Butterflies continues his journey to greatness. The kind of delirious head trip that leaves your brain quietly fizzing... Stamping Butterflies is proof of how SF can be both experimental and highly relevant. (SFX)

Incredibly cool, incredibly stylish, distinctly nasty in places... another dose of classic Grimwood. (ALIEN ON LINE)

A widescreen imagination and a sharp political edge. Grimwood wraps up his anger and his compassion in a wry trademark obliqueness that stabs you through from angles you don't expect. (Richard Morgan)

Stamping Butterflies is a revelation. A tapestry of narrative threads, each one slyly beautiful... With a literary ambition that puts most mainstream novels to shame. (Stephen Baxter)

Grimwood has written some of the best SF in the world over the past five
years and Stamping Butterflies continues his journey to greatness. (SFX Review of 2004)

A mature, often alarming, deep and admirable work of fiction (Adam Roberts)

'Stamping Butterflies is JCG's most ambitious novel to date, and perhaps his best... A major novel from an author who deserves to be called one of the major figures of the new British SF. (Gary Wolfe LOCUS)

Forget The Matrix, this is far more sophisticated and sexy. Mind-bendingly good. (COSMOPOLITAN)

'Clever, wise, and enigmatic, Stamping Butterflies has great relevance to the times in which we live... The writing achieves a clarity most writers die trying to achieve (Jeff Vandermeer)

Future near and far collide in Jon Courtenay Grimwood's latest complex work. The stories intertwine tantalisingly, their resolution shocks (Liz Sourbut NEW SCIENTIST)

There's some sex, some violence, some politics, some drugs... another trip to familiar Moroccan terrirtory. (Daniel McBeal FOCUS)

Grimwood is a formidably skilled writer and he rewards a skilled reader. The risks Grimwood takes are substantial. The rewards for the reader even more so. Stamping Butterflies is an utterly entertaining enigma. (Rick Kleffel Interzone)

This is nothing less than a monumental achievement. A quite amazing novel. (Paul Billinger Vector) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

One of the most exciting cutting edge SF authors in the UK joins Gollancz with his most ambitious novel yet.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 30 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
The characters in this book will blow your mind. Take Moz - a street kid in 1970's Marrakech, in love with a half-German girl called Malika. Then there's Jake is a punk guitarist, hiding in a run down house in the old part of the city. In the present, the US president just escaped an assassination attempt by a would-be assassin known as Prisoner Zero (who Prisoner Zero is, exactly, is one of the book's many questions). Either way, Prisoner Zero had been condemned to death by the Pentagon but the President wants him kept alive.
And while all this is going on, on the other side of the galaxy and thousands of years in the future, a boy who behaves very like Moz is ruler of a vast collection of worlds, helped by an alien intelligence, who took another boy's dreams and childhood stories (one being about a butterfly), and thinking the stories were real helped create the thousands of worlds over which a succession of boys now rule. (Confused yet? You better concentrate.)
There are three time-lines so that can get tricky but the little signs at the top of each chapter tell you where you are and the description is so beautifully written it will whisk you away. Stamping Butterflies is about everything. It's about the US prisoners held in Iraq. It's about regret and love and punk. It's about why people lie. But mostly it's just a good story, alternatively funny and sad and gruesome.
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One of the things I liked about the book is that it has several plot lines each set in its own time frame and location. The progression in each thread of the story was quite smooth and the ideas in each were interesting. However it did seem strange that a large part of the book is set in the past or in our time frame.

This is a piddling problem compared to the major issue which is that the book had two major flaws. The first is that there is little depth to the story and the second is that the characters are equally shallow. This is partly because there are quite a few plot lines and so plenty of characters but its also because the author wants to keep you on your toes so he gives very little away abou the reasons things are happening. The end result was that I didn't really have any connection to the characters and I didn't really care what happened in any of the plotlines.

I should perhaps give the book 4 stars, it did have good ideas after all. However I just plain didn't enjoy it so 3 stars seems more accurate.
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Format: Paperback
Grimwood's understanding of ancient Chinese beliefs emerge in ths wonderfully detailed book. I was drawn to his books after hearing some good reviews and also some talks by Grimwood at a convention and after reading for a few pages of this book in the bookshop I was determined to buy it.

The story spans across three different timelines, and although all three "junctures" begin separated and individual, they become more an more entwined as the book nears it's end. Grimwood ties all three wonderfully in a psychadelically mesmeric mish-mash that puts into question the identity, consciousness and perception of each of the main characters in the book, and requires a sound mind in order to keep up with the progression of the storyline. It is, by no means, a travel book that is picked up every now and then.

An intriguing read, and a good introduction for Grimwood for new readers.
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Format: Paperback
The book is split into a few story arcs following characters living in different times, we follow them through various parts of there lives told in varying order.
Once you can keep track of this deliberate disregard for time and a normal narrative the plots are fairly straight-forward.

Prisoner Zero is the main character, we see various episodes of his life, most of them harsh and we gradually get the see how he connects to the other plot threads.
We see a few episodes of the Emperor's life and this shows us the shape of the future and introduces the strange world he lives in.
We also see the Emperor's assassin.

The tone of the book is a bit odd, there are a few funny moments particularly with the Assassin but there is very little real humour, we instead see characters who are either insane or very close to being insane doing odd things, there could have been humour here but there isn't.
Unfortunately there isn't a lot of drama here either, we never care about the characters, they are weird and unemotional and generate no empathy.

The book does handle the time travel paradox smoothly and has some nice sci-fi ideas but it never really grabs your attention or imagination.
At it's best it is a little like the Iain M Banks Culture novels but there are only a few flashes of that.

An average but with an interesting title.
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Format: Paperback
When you reach the end of this book you will want to start at the beginning again - it's that good. Absorbing and challenging, I wish there were more books like it - it's the first book I have read by this author but I intend to read all his others. Everyone knows about the emporer who dreamed he was a butterfly, but the author has taken this starting point and weaved cutting edge science with detailed socio-cultural backgrounds and timelines that move backwards and forwards, the end product is a wonderful story.
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