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on 12 March 2017
closed loops don't work. future tech gets invented because someone from that future timetravels to the past and introduces it there...makes no sense. also could have done without the Stepford religious/communist feel of the future. I heartily recommend London Falling and the rest of that series but suggest that you give this one a miss.
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on 9 July 2002
British Summertime is a remarkable read. There are a lot of "time travel changes the world as we know it" adventures out there, but Cornell's is certainly an original spin.
Brimming with his trademark leftie, hippy optimism and weird, horrific violence, the beautiful prose style masks the fact it's a hugely complicated, sprawling space opera. Dan Dare meets Judas Iscariot, and that's hardly the half of it.
As he's done before, Cornell throws a load of variously unhinged or unhappy characters into a cosy, recognisably English setting and then has progressively wild things rip up the scenery. Not one of the characters is safe. Every one of them's going to get hurt somehow.
Anything can happen and it does. Decapitated heads with Received Pronunciation accents pilot nippy spaceships in the intergalactic war against bits of tubing. A girl fluent in body language and human geography - able, inately, to find chip shops among streets she's never visited before - discovers her High Church, super-famous pop-star alter-ego. The master-of-disguise working for British Intelligence regulary drills holes into his own head.
It's Cornell's deft writing style and the genuine affection we have for the lead characters that enable him to get away with such insane, unliklely happenings. Less outlandishly blasphemous than last year's Something More, it explores many of the same topics and themes. British Summertime is wonderfully weird and unusual, continually suprising, often shocking and really good fun.
When's the next one out, Paul?
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on 25 January 2003
British Summertime is Paul Cornell's second novel to combine time, space and religion into a mainly coherent whole.
Alison dreams of watching the Crucifixion from Judas Iscariot's point of view; can find chip shops in a strange place; and has a friend who uncovers a deadly secret whilst working in a Peak District cave.
When a pilot from 2129 arrives in 2001 and meets Alison, both of their worlds are changed forever. We discover the meaning of Angels, the secret of the first Navigator and what a man's life is really worth.
Complex plotting, delightful wordplay and skillful narration, with enough hidden secrets to keep you guessing, this is an entertaining and enjoyable work.
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on 20 December 2004
A cracking read, probably the best time-travel tale I've ever read, certainly the most complex, and without doubt the most fun, and genuinely moving, and a few other best in class type things, but I expect your getting my point.
Read it, or your missing out.
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on 3 August 2005
I recognise the styles of a number of contemporary writers here: Lesley Glaister; Clive Barker; (early) Joanne Harris; (late) Douglas Adams. But patches of Cornell are a shade darker than any of these, I think (not for kids, this, unfortunately) and he brings his own particular spin to things.
Cornell plants his feet in that slice of British culture who live split between the bright lights of the big city and the marvels of the natural world, and who are unafraid to imagine what could be on this crazy ball of rock we call home. From here he conjures a host of remarkable characters and dumps some of our more contemporary concerns on them.
This is remarkable stuff and a cracking read. It defies genre by drawing on several and beating them soundly into new and interesting shapes with cleaner lines. It's ambitious - but it knows it's ambitious. What is art unless it's daring now and then? Cornell's writing takes on some really difficult scenes head-on (I won't spoil them) and comes out largely unscathed. Wish I could write like that.
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on 24 March 2004
I discovered this because Paul Cornell is writing for the new Dr Who series and the Amazon reviews were intriguing. It's a complex story, but it touches important areas that go well beyondscience fiction. It shows a genuine enthusiasm for the visionary England, where high culture (Vaughan Williams) and popular (chipshops) rub shoulders as equals, and most extraordinary to me it has a very powerful christian element. The episodes of alternative views of New Testament scenes reveal a very subtle and knowledgable mind. Cornell is a serious student of this background. There are very precise details. Even more astonishing is that the book ends with a character offering a mass, as a gesture of unity. It's genuinely Christian in its ideas, in a way that may not be recognisable to people who aren't actually christian, as it is concerned with central ideas of the unity of things "in the body of Christ" and the charcters' involvement with healing the rift in the universe rather than superficial doctrines or stories. A bit like Charles Williams novels, and, I suppose, Pullman, who is very christian in his attitudes (his "Republic of Heaven" is actually what Christians mean by the "Kingdom of Heaven")even though he thinks he is attacking Christianity - but only, in fact, extreme Calvinistic traditions.
But Cornell is good science fiction, and intense writing too. His visionary England is somehow real, exciting, and just round the corner. My quibbles (only four stars) are about the length and complexity. Personally I'd like less plot and more atmosphere and description.
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on 5 January 2005
As the other reviews (and indeed the blurb and testimonials) will tell you, this is a wonderfully inventive book. The various threads may be individually quite cliched, but they're woven together in a grin-inducingly outrageous way.
My main grump with this book is that its plot ambitions can occasionally over-reach its ability to convince the reader, and the ending left me with a feeling of being cheated, although I couldn't quite put my finger on why.
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on 6 December 2007
Time travel paradox stories are common in science fiction and this is probably one of the most complicated I've ever read. However, although most of the puzzles get tied up quite nicely, the main plot's climax was a disappointment and made no sense to me other than being a vehicle for dubious religious concepts that I can do without in a science fiction novel.

I would say that if you don't like being preached to, or if you think 'Hell' is more far fetched than 'time travel', don't read this book.
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on 12 April 2010
I've only thrown away 2 books in my life, this being the second. Even if I don't like them much I still give them to a charity shop when I'm done. I reserve the bin only for those that I don't want to impose on anyone else ever again.
Rambling navel-gazing of the possessed, would sum it up. It hit the bin when someone decided to pull out their own eyeball
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