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superb speculative fiction

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-01-2021

This is the easiest book to recommend for a possible view of our future, and exemplifies the practice of forecasting by speculative fiction

A great novel in the vein of PKD

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-11-2020

There's a very clear relationship between the themes and style of this book and Phillip K Dick. This book also attends to the science without belabouring the concepts. Most of all, the character is a typical PKD antihero

Saccharine

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-09-2020

This book is far too interested in the reader liking its protagonists to have much to say beyond an overly long apologia for aristocratic privilege. Despite frequent name dropping of the classics, it refers to them in only the most superficial and banal sense

Classic PKD but not his finest

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-03-2020

Despite its unusual publication history, and the observation by many that the final book is an amalgam of two short stories, this book is a classic PKD story. Firstly, this provenance is not unusual for his novels. Having read the short stories, and most of his novels, this is a familiar pattern. It might even be that the majority are constructed in this way. Secondly, the themes of shared irreality, fanciful weapons, and complex conspiracies are his stock in trade.

However, this is not the best such novel. In particular, the question of the protagonist's experience does not become an emphatic theme of the novel as it does in Ubik, and the reader is free to discard the struggles with multiple realities as a simple delusion.

A familiar combination of themes

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-03-2020

for the PKD completionist, such as myself, this book is a pleasant surprise. it revisits much of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, while incorporating at least 2 short stories. however, it never quite leaves the reader troubled by unsquared unreality

I was the right audience for this book

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-01-2020

and was well rewarded

Over the years, I had read several popular science books on similar subjects, and in recent years watched PBS Space Time and listened to Sean Carroll's Mindscape. I had been left with questions and despaired for answers. This book anticipated these, and corrected some errors for which I had not even formed questions. Its probably the case that to do better requires actually studying the math.

This book did an exceptional job in clearly explaining the route through the consensus and onto the quantum interpretation that it championed. As history of science, I found it very satisfying. I would have loved the book to have engaged directly with the philosophy of mathematics or of science. Without expertise in either, I nevertheless feel confident they would offer cogent critiques of the interpretation. In particular, I cannot help but be unsettled by the sense in which it seems to settle the interpretation of probability as being a real property of the universe.  

1 person found this helpful

Remarkably shallow

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-08-2019

This felt like the script of a second tier Australian movie, out stayed its welcome, and had remarkably little to say. Many others have loved it. If like me you found the first half hour shallow, then abandon your read, it did not improve for me

superb, but grim

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-2019

This remains a genuinely frightening book. The story is spare and perfectly plotted. A minor weakness that is not of it's own making, is that when written the war was recent history that would be expected to shape the responses of people at large. It is harder to feel confident in how groups would respond today. A closer to this day analogue is The Road, but it really dodges the question of the first day, which this book fearlessly tackles

One of the better PKD books

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-07-2019

Thoroughly enjoyable, but not a PKD classic. It contains many themes from his short stories, and some of the structure of other novels, but is not a direct rewrite of any in particular

Failed hard sci-fi

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-06-2019

There are 3 notable aspects to this novel: it's setting, it's sociology, and it's fictionalisation of future physics.

The first is it's most successful, and likely explains its great success in China. However, for most readers, I expect we would be better served reading a novel that deals foremost with the setting of China before and after the cultural revolution.

The sociology is very weak. It is adequately replaced by reading Philip K Dick's short story Null-O.

The fictionalisation of physics fails to suspend disbelief, and is often delivered in uninteresting slabs of exposition. Isaac Arthur does a great job of poking holes in most of the ideas expressed. it may have worked better 10 years ago.

A reader looking for a novel of this type in English would do better reading Neal Stephenson or William Gibson

3 people found this helpful