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Stone (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Hardcover – 18 Jul 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; 1st.ed. edition (18 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575070633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575070639
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,328,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Stone is Adam Roberts' third SF novel following Salt and On--all three independent and very different from each other. His psychopathic narrator tells the story of his life and crimes to--for special personal reasons--a stone...

Ae's narrative begins in an uncrackable prison inside a star where he's been jailed for his latest murder. Indeed he's the only living murderer in humanity's vast interstellar utopia, the "t'T". A voice in his head offers freedom and wealth if he'll perform one little chore: murdering an entire planetary population of over 60 million people without destroying the planet.

It's a tough proposition, since t'T people are crammed with "dotTech" nanomachines that extend life, repel disease, and repair fatal injuries. Nevertheless Ae escapes from the star-jail with heavy technomagical assistance, has good and bad times (and kills again) on various worlds, and acquires a carefully hidden info-chip loaded with cutting-edge physics. With this armoury, planetary murder becomes possible. Just take 12 smallish stones...

What baffles Ae is the mystery of who's employing him. Could one of the galaxy's other harmless-seeming human societies be launching war on the t'T? The answer is much stranger and connects with Ae's repeated musings on quantum mechanics as he follows his destiny. Other weird science appears: for example, t'T space is divided by the Trench, a mysterious zone 1,000 light years long where gravity reaches fatal extremes, but there's no mass to account for it.

Like Roberts' previous SF novels, it's an odd and offbeat mixture. Chilling insight into Ae's psychology mingles with flamboyantly space-operatic gadgetry. Though intriguing and inventive, Stone promises more than it ultimately delivers. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The Universe¿s first mass murderer for thousands of years confesses; mind-bending SF from one of the genre¿s brightest talents.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas Douglas TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stone is Roberts' second novel (following Salt) and adds further to his reputation as a talented author.
The story is the monologue (as told to a stone) of a prisoner, and how he came to be where he is. The prisoner, Ae, is given a mission in return for his freedom; a mission to commit murder. What makes Ae special is that he is capable of murder - in this future murder is almost unheard of. Life is peaceful, there is no scarcity, and, thanks to nanotechnology, humans may live for many hundreds of years.
What unfolds is a linear story of Ae's mission, and this could be a very ordinary sci-fi tale. Why makes it otherwise, is an intelligent and entertaining writing style.
Compared to Salt, this novel has more and better science, and richer characterisation. It does lack complexity and originality, and to some readers these will be critical shortcomings, but to me it was a solid and worthwhile read.
Four stars.
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Format: Paperback
I first came across Adam Roberts when I read 'On', an early novel that, for all that its central concept was breathtakingly original, was let down by an abrupt ending that left me feeling utterly cheated.
I gave the author the benefit of the doubt, however, and read 'Salt', his first book, which was dreadful enough to put me off sci fi for a while - one of those hackneyed, formulaic colonisation sagas that only appeal to people who read nothing but sci-fi, the only surprise being that it didn't feature a beautiful alien female who inexplicably fell for the central character.
Then I saw 'Stone', and I decided to give the guy another go. And I'm so glad I did, as this is one of my all-time favourite books - in any genre.
It's an intelligently and beautifully written road trip of a book that stands up to repeated readings and that, in 50 years time, I hope will be held aloft as an example of how imaginative, intelligent science fiction can match the best novels in any other genre, in terms of quality of prose, narrative drive, and emotive power.
The plot is deceptively straightforward, with a destination that's spelled out from the opening chapter, but which, thanks to a masterful build-up of tension teased out over a number of superbly-written episodes along the way, doesn't disappoint or feel contrived. As the central character, Ae, stumbles inexorably towards a genocidal destiny that ought to make the reader hate and fear him, we instead come to sympathise with him, seeing him for what he really is: a tragically suggestible and mentally unhinged human being who, because of a genetic anomaly at birth, is the last known living being in the universe who is still capable of murder.
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"Stone" is a curious book. The quality of writing and characterisation is poor and the narrative is at times risible. The worlds of the t'T are Sci-Fi stereotypes, two-dimensional and bland with planets with names like "Rain" (so called because,er, it rains continually) whose main city is "Raintown", and there is an embarrassing half-baked attempt to add depth to the book by references to the t'T language, "Glice". However amidst this mediocrity there is a plot which keeps the reader guessing throughout and one good theme relating to the "Dot Tech", a kind of sub-atomic AI that the citizens of t'T have infused in their bloodstream which keeps them disease free and void of negative and destructive emotions and behaviour. The author repeatedly compares and contrasts the sentient world that we humans experience with the sub-quantum state of flux that the "Dot Tech" inhabit and introduces interesting ,but complex ,philosophical concepts based on sub-atomic physics about what constitutes the nature of reality at it's smallest level and the consequences of this for the human experience of cosmic life. The narrative is written by the central character , Ae, in the form of a letter to a stone, the relevance of which becomes apparent as the plot unfolds. However the reader doesn't need to be reminded of this constantly by the narrator who intersperses the dialogue unnecessarily with phrases like "my dear Stone" all the time. "Stone" is good in parts, poor in others and does provoke some thought , but overall it is a fairly average effort .
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By A Customer on 24 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
Stone, is an exciting book, where the story is not confined in a single area, or planet, but evolves throughout the only patch of universe where travelling at n times light speed is possible.
In a place where anybody can be anyone-or-anything and where crime has been long forgotten, we encounter the last criminal, fighting to remain sane, confiding his inner thoughts to a stone.
Committing the ultimate crime and trying to solve the crime mystery at the same time, Stone proves to be a very enjoyable read, one of the few books that deserve a second read, and for this reason 5 stars are well deserved.
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Format: Paperback
'Stone' was Adam Roberts' third novel. I had already read his first, 'Salt', and the later 'Land of the Headless' before trying 'Stone'; after reading it, I still find myself in two minds about the author's merits.

There is no doubting Roberts' intelligence. He understands enough of the science to make for interesting speculation, and he understands that much of the interest of science fiction stems from the interaction between technology and human psychology - the way in which changed possibilities in the physical world change our sense of who we are. In 'Stone' he tries to marry radical speculation about technology - particularly the likely consequences of nanotechnology - with speculation about the nature of consciousness and what it is to be human, with mixed results.

The form of the story is conventional. Set in a world in which faster-than-light travel is commonplace and technological advances have enabled something close to a functioning utopia, it is in effect a murder mystery with a twist. A terrible crime is to be committed. We know who will commit it. But who has commissioned this act, and why? The narrator's - and the reader's - quest for the truth is not helped by the fact that the narrator is unreliable: an undoubted psychopath who may or may not be schizophrenic.

This suggests many possibilities: but the book has serious failings. At this stage of his career Roberts still seems to lack some of the necessary qualities of the writer, for which intelligence is not a satisfactory substitute. His ability to construct character is limited; his prose style is undistinguished; and he seems to have difficulties with structure, employing blatant delaying tactics that irritate the reader who wants the story to progress.
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