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Carnival by Elizabeth Bear
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Carnival (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Elizabeth Bear

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5353630,204 (3.74)81
Michelangelo Kisanagi-Jones and Vincent Katherinessen, former abassador-spies, have been ordered to New Amazonia to bring back information about the planet's cheap, renewable energy source. But secretly, one of the men devises other plans.
Member:matociquala
Title:Carnival
Authors:Elizabeth Bear
Info:Spectra (2006), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:science fiction, gender

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Carnival by Elizabeth Bear (2006)

Recently added byprivate library, autisticluke, NafizaMaruzeh
  1. 01
    When It Changed [short story] by Joanna Russ (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Some of Bear's source material
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» See also 81 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
very interesting ideas but average execution. could have been much better ( )
  bookwormelf | Mar 22, 2018 |
I had really enjoyed the enny Casey series by this author and thought this title would be equally as good, partly because the cover on my trade paperback was so intriguing. Artwork on the covers does sell books and it sold this one. This novel was not one of Bear’s best. It wasn’t a bad book, but a decent plot and good characteriszation got lost in the message it was trying to send.

This is science fiction that is written to send a messag about equality. The novel is about equality between the sexes. It is set on a world where men hold low status and have no rights, while women hold all the power. The planet on which they live has a unique clean power source and Earth needs it. Two men are sent to negotiate the absorption of the planet into the Earth led coalition. The equality message gets a little heavy handed and drowns out the plot and prevents the characters from being developed to a greater degree. All-in-all, this is not one of Bear’s better novels but it is not a total washout either. ( )
  benitastrnad | Nov 11, 2017 |
That's a book that just flew under my radar - I skipped it intentionally when it was published (did not sound interesting enough - no idea why) and I bought it at the last days of December 2008 while searching a 4th book for one of these 4 for 3 books deals in Amazon. And I am so happy that I got it. It's what Science Fiction should be - a lot of ideas, great execution and believable setting.

The novel takes place some 500 years in the future (it's mentioned almost in passing somewhere in the book as being 2500 years after Christ or something like this) but the world has nothing to do with the world that we know. A few waves of assessments had wiped out most of the races on Earth (not just people but whole races - it looks like anyone that is not from the African Diaspora had been wiped out) and the surviving ones keep getting assessed. Which is a nice term for being killed by the ruling machines. Somewhere between all the assessments, a lot of people managed to get off the planet and created colonies... which the coalition that formed on Earth now try to get back into its grasp. So far nothing special - a coalition/empire/foundation and a few states that try to remain independent. It's as old setting as you can imagine one but somehow the novel sounds fresh.

Michelangelo Osiris Leary Kusanagi-Jones and Vincent Katherinessen are two spies/diplomats for the coalition (and the history of those names is just one of the fascinating moments in the book). Additionally they are partners (both in work and romantically) and they had been separated for way too many years. In a way, the novel can be considered their love story. But it is much more than this. Because the world they are sent to this time is New Amazonia - a place where the women and men had switched roles in an attempt to make it a better place. Except that it had not worked - the roles are changed but that's about it. The world is the same - the men behave and are treated as the women in the old world and the women behave as men. It is as believable as possible - that's just the way the human race behave. Add to this some aliens and the picture starts getting complicated.

Most of the book deals with the complicated world they all live into - showing how New Amazonia works and revealing the truth about assessments, what had happened and why things happened. A grim future shown in sparse words and with masterful imagination. But it is also a character-driven story because all that happens can happen only with these people and at this time.

A story of love, future, aliens, AI and something more. One of the most beautiful stories I had read lately. And even though this future is as grim as possible, it also has a hope... through the whole novel, all the way to the last sentence. I just wish Bear had decided to write a prequel/sequel to it - I want more from this world.

A small warning though: if you have any issues with same sex relationship, you might not enjoy the book as much - it relies heavily on such and even has sex scenes between the main characters.

5 stars out of 5. And I suppose I am on the hunt for other novels by Bear. :)

Note: review from 2010 ( )
1 vote AnnieMod | Apr 6, 2016 |
In this future, Earth is ruled by AI "Governors". They enforce a strict Environmentalist doctrine, culling humanity anytime it becomes too much of a burden on the planet's resources. On another world, a seemingly limitless clean energy source has been discovered. Two diplomats are sent to New Amazonia, where gunslinging women vie for position, and hetero men are only a small step above slaves.

This story features espionage, alien technology, jungle survivalism, revolutionaries, terrorism, dueling, conflicting political ideologies and romantic tensions. It's packed with

I didn't like the characters in "Carnival". They were in turns too jaded, calculating, violent, deceptive, and ambivalent for my tastes. I was often uncertain about their motivations or true emotions. I even found the supporting cast members to be either unpleasant or dull.

The plot is full of twists and turns, but it seemed to me that it was also rather haphazard. Many different factions, goals, and possibilities were introduced, but most were undeveloped as the story progressed. I was interested in ideas which didn't go anywhere, but uninterested in the actual plot. ( )
  wishanem | Jan 27, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Bearprimary authorall editionscalculated
Stone,SteveCover artsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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car•ni•val (kär'nə-vəl) n. [Italian carnevale, from old Italian carnelevare: carne, meat (from Latin caro, carn-) + levare, to remove (from Latin levare, to raise).] lit. "farewell to the flesh"
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For Stephen and Asha
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Michelangelo Osiris Leary Kusanagi-Jones had been drinking since fourteen hundred. He didn't plan on stopping soon.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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