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The Amphora Project Paperback – 22 Mar 2006

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3.8 out of 5 stars 8 reviews from the U.S.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press; Reprint edition (22 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080214263X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802142634
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 20.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,371,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"A rollicking old-school space opera complete with sensitive robots, wily space aliens and secretive societies in turmoil ... The story twists along at breakneck pace through a future of absurd decadence and immense possibility. Along the way Kotzwinkle fans will find sharply resonant moments as well as pointed humor and insight into human nature at its worst and best."

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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Just a game, really' (1784) 11 Nov. 2013
By M. DeKalb - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A pretty fun story, with a few drawbacks in my estimation. However, bear in mind I don't generally do sci-fi.

The story is written with what seems to be slightly choppy dialogue or instances where more could have been done for the dialogue. At some points it also seems that there could have been additions made to the depiction of the scene, most often at transitory points. However, there are moments which strike one as pretty humorous and quite satirical. For instance, Jockey Oldcastle being kicked out of the Consortium for abuse of his powers as he was found to have `sold several million fruitcakes' on the black-market... military fruitcakes.

There are many interesting creatures with which one meets. However, weighted down by the descriptors of their physical appearances and `one special power' or characteristic, the characters as true characters, through the first quarter of the book generally appear only in cursory - outlined without a feel for their individual personality. The objective is, essentially, familiarize yourself with the world (Junk Moon, Planet Immortal and The Corridor), it's economy, the system of government (The Anonymous Observer, The Consortium), it's people's and machinations (Info-Hog, Cantusians, Specterians, Starnosians, Humans removed from earth, Serpentians, etc.), their great hope (the Immortals) and very gradually the pieces and characters focus toward clarity and role. It is excellent story development, despite overwhelm in the adjective department. Remember, I did say I don't generally do sci-fi!!!

Major motifs include: Immortality, vanity, greed, herd mentality, absurdism (in the form of The Gamester - a likable character, who suffers a great mishap), hypnotism & the power of suggestion, CG Jung's - the collective unconscious, isolation & the inability to cultivate relationships, the power of nature; adaptation; evolution, sentience & automation, and a blurring of the lines between right and wrong and the fallibility of the mind in its decision making - e.g. the path to hell being paved with good intention. Quite clearly the novel works across many important and debatable concepts.

From the Paper Lantern, to the destruction of Junk Moon, the crystallizing of its owner - Kitty Livtov, mid-coitus, the planned revenge on the Observer and subsequent crystallizing of the entire Consortium, and the surprising dimensional slipping end starring Uncle Orphidian (a Serpentian) and the Dark Dreamers - who botch it - the story rolls along at a good clip... once you've gotten to know everybody. Pretty fun overall, I'd have to say.

To the story (there are SPOILERS):

Arriving at the Paper Lantern with designs in mind to assist Stuart Landsmann to escape the planet, Jockey Oldcastle, Adrian Link and his assistant bot, Upquark are witnesses to Landsmann's arrest and his robot quickly turns over files to Upquark. Immediately the three are on the Anonymous Observers most wanted list. Approached with the intention to be apprehended, Link, who can speak to insects, has the Observer's police attacked. The parties are then on the run.

After decrypting the message with the help of a robot they'd recharged, the Gamester, we learn that the Amphora project is hidden within Junk Moon - a place where the wreckage of war is stored, where machines agglomerate and turn into haphazard Junkernauts, the site run by Katherine Livtov (or Kitty Liftoff). Also made to note is that Stuart Landsmann was catatonized - his brain cleared and put on an archival file. Why? Because he spoke out against Amphora project. The project intended to achieve immortality which is being sought by the prime members of the Consortium, whom reside on Planet Immortal, Landsmann feels that the project will bring about the extinction of any carbon based creature within the galaxy.

The Amphora is described as a type of vase which is able to store a person's life, in its entirety, interdimensionally. The Immortals have been granted the time necessary by the Ancient Aliens (teachers of the way to Immortality) to learn the ways and means to achieve Immortality, and their instruction is to teach others the path.

The bulk of the story consists of running from planet to planet, attempting to figure out the mystery of the crystallizations that are occurring to the populous, aliens included, and for much of the duration - running from the Observer. That is, until, Link and Upquark figure out that indeed, the Immortals were mere teachers who were given a benefit (longer life) in order to open a dimensional portal to the plane of the living. This, so that the Ancient Alien race could feed on the life forms (crystallizing them) within this plane, for they can't draw off of the sun, carbon becomes silica in those who are effected, and it always comes when someone is having a great epiphany - piercing the veil, if you will. The end reveals the real reason to be the need for time, to live for eternity, one must have time and what better way than to steal it from things still in possession of time. And all of this is to be completed using a common and plentiful (for the Corridor) pheromone, utilized by the Ancients to navigate this dimension.


`A psychologically adept pillow murmured `I love and understand you'. Furiously Max Rat fired into it, and the pillow whispered with a dying sigh `I... understand.'' (1890)

`Amphora gives me time. With time, one learns whatever one wishes and needs.' (2124) - Metron.

`We thought that we were wise. But all we are is old.' (2801) - The Observer.

`Pheromones aren't always used as sexual attractants. Sometimes they're used to lead the group to food. Or... war.' (3272) - A. Link.

`They destroy our inborn power to comprehend space and time. Once that's gone, we're finished.' (4417) - Uncle Ophidian.
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 16 Jun. 2011
By PinkPanther - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read THE BEAR WENT OVER THE MOUNTAIN and it was one of my all time favorites. I was excited to read another by the same author, but this book was hard to follow, and it never really sucked me in. I think he should have spent more time on it, or maybe it's the wrong genre for the writer. I'm still super excited to read his other books and hope more become available on the kindle.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kotzwinkle Does It Again 29 Sept. 2008
By Stu Chamberlain - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've now read three William Kotzwinkle books (not counting "Walter the Farting Dog"). In each book I've read -- and "The Amphora Project" is one of them -- he creates a fantastic world out of whole cloth, and populates it with fantastic characters who behave only as Kotzwinkle characters can. In this case, it's "The Corridor..." a place somewhere in space, somewhere in the future, where refugees from doomed Planet Earth have re-established themselves, interacting with populations (and robots) from all over the known universe. We meet Jockey Oldcastle, a space pirate... an elephantine used-weapons dealer... Kitty Liftoff, who runs the Junk Moon.... all overseen by the Consortium and the Autonomous Observer. I won't get any farther into the plot than that. Only Kotzwinkle can tell the story, so I won't even try, other than to say that the quest for immortality is involved. "The Amphora Project" grabbed me and involved me immediately and didn't let go. I highly recommend it.
While I'm at it, let me also urge you to enjoy "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" and "The Fan Man," my other two Kotzwinkle tales.
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't be happier 7 Oct. 2013
By Lorelei Mission - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Kotzwinkle's early themes of humor, insects, and mystical otherworlds all work GREAT when explored in a sci-fi framework. I was so pleased with this book! It's funny, sad, exciting, thought-provoking, and I cried at the end because I didn't want the ride to be over.

Special note for female sci-fi fans: This book does NOT treat female characters like window-dressing (so many sci-fi stories make that ugly mistake...). The female characters are just as interesting, 3-dimensional, and integral to the plot as the males are.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Kotzwinkle's Best 10 Jan. 2006
By C. Saylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was excited about picking up a new book from the author who wrote great books like The Fan Man, The Exile, Dr. Rat, etc. but---

This one had promise for a while but then gets muddled in the middle and didn't really keep me interested. Characters like Oldcastle and Lizardo seem to be the heroes, but they take a backseat to others like The Observer, who, I think is the only interesting character in the story. There are others who are introduced, like Man O' War, but their impact on the story is unclear.

There's some interesting robotic encounters and other-worldly concepts that keep the reader involved, but, overall, the story is pretty anti-climatic. The theme of humans (or aliens) playing with mortality works well, but the story becomes made-for-tv and fizzles.

If you're looking for good Kotzwinkle, I'd recommend the books mentioned above as well as some earlier titles like The Midnight Examiner and The Bear Went Over The Mountain.
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