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Herr aller Dinge by Andreas Eschbach

Herr aller Dinge (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Andreas Eschbach, Matthias Koeberlin (Sprecher)

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1105109,733 (4.01)5
Title:Herr aller Dinge
Authors:Andreas Eschbach
Other authors:Matthias Koeberlin (Sprecher)
Info:Bastei Lübbe (Lübbe Audio) (2011), Ausgabe: 1, Audio CD
Collections:Your library

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Lord of All Things by Andreas Eschbach (2011)


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German (2)  English (2)  French (1)  All languages (5)
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Bechdel Test: Pass
Johnson Test: Pass
Will I read more by this author? Maybe. Definitely not with this translator.

I loved Andreas Eschbach’s previous novel, [book:The Carpet Makers|171125], currently his only other novel translated into English. It was very much an idea-driven science fiction novel, old-fashioned in a very good way, fitting nicely in the tradition of Arthur C. Clarke and Larry Niven and Isaac Asimov. And the translation by Doryl Jensen was superb, the prose clear and spare and elegant in a way that made the eventual mystery reveal more powerful.

Unfortunately, I could not even finish Lord of All Things.

It is a much more modern novel. The Carpet Makers was episodic, each chapter essentially a short story of its own where the connection between them was simply that each story brought the narrative a little closer to the big reveal of the ending. Lord of All Things, on the other hand, is a continuous narrative, following Hiroshi Kato’s life from his childhood in Japan to his college years at MIT to what I assume will be his adult life as one of the world’s leading robotics experts.

The Carpet Makers’ strength was Eschbach’s (and Jensen’s) skill with building atmosphere, and with dispensing clues to the central mystery one by one at exactly the right pace to keep the dramatic tension rising. The strengths required by the story Lord of All Things seems to be telling are very different – this novel needs Hiroshi, at the very least, to be a compelling character, a character with charisma (for the reader, if not necessarily for the other characters around him). And with the number of words devoted to setting each scene it also really needs a writer with the gift of capturing a sense of place, the specific details that make it the French Ambassador’s compound in Tokyo or an MIT frat house instead of just a generic place where rich people live or place where college students get drunk. And for me, Eschbach failed at both of these elements, failed so miserably that I could not stand to read more than 160 pages of the 647 page novel.

(Read the rest of my review on my book review blog!) ( )
  PhoenixFalls | Mar 16, 2014 |
Eschbach's Lord of All Things is a weave of nearly every major genre you could search out--though a science fiction novel at heart (at least by the end), it includes elements of romance, mystery, drama, horror, suspense, adventure, and even some small element of the supernatural. Probably, the book will lose some readers exactly because of this variety, but for many readers, I think it is exactly this variety that makes the book so impossible to walk away from. Perhaps because I read so little science fiction, this mix was especially effective for me, and might be most appealing to readers who have truly eclectic tastes...but one way or another, I'd expect any reader to find some entertainment here. And, importantly, the book is also a careful and believable exploration of day-to-day struggles--crazy as some of the events are, and extraordinary as some of the characters are, Eschbach never forgets that normal struggles and fears are at the base of any individual, and he does an admirable job of allowing those concerns to make his work all the more powerful and believable without ever losing the drive that comes from dipping into the genres noted above.

Following the lives of a man and woman whose lives boomerang against each other time after time, and taking its seed from a young boy who lives in poverty and dreams of fixing the world and, most importantly, eliminating poverty, the novel is magnificent in scope. Moving across the globe and landing in such settings as Boston, Tokyo, Scotland, the Arctic, and Buenos Aires, as quickly as the novel moves, it never becomes tedious or predictable--or rather, when you think it might be predictable, Eschbach takes an unprecedented turn that, in hindsight, fits perfectly, even as much as readers wouldn't have seen it coming.

On the whole, this is one of those works which, long as it is, can barely be put down for sleep once a reader has really begun, and there's something here for nearly everyone. True, it has some faults. Some scenes seem more tangent than necessity (especially in the first portion of the book), developing characters and motivations that only become clear much later and giving time to perhaps one too many subplots. And, really, only the two primary characters in the book are fully fleshed out and developed as much as one might hope for all of the characters. But, while some readers may end up seeing Eschbach as attempting too much...I have to say that I'll read anything else of his which I can find in translation. Whether you read this and become fascinated by the scientific drive, the politics of achievement, or the simple drama of living, there'll be something here to keep you involved.

Absolutely recommended. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Feb 12, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andreas Eschbachprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Willcocks, SamuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Winner of the 2012 Kurd-LaBwitz-Preis for best German science fiction novel, Lord of All Things is also a story about love against all odds. They are just children when they meet for the first time: Charlotte, daughter of the French ambassador, and Hiroshi, a laundress's son. One day, Hiroshi declares that he has an idea that will change the world. An unprecedented idea of how to sweep away all differences between rich and poor. When Hiroshi runs into Charlotte several years later, he is trying to build a brighter future through robotics. Determined to win Charlotte's love, he resurrects his childhood dream, convinced that he can eradicate world poverty by pushing the limits of technology beyond imagination. But as Hiroshi circles ever closer to realizing his vision, he discovers that his utopian dream may contain the seeds of a nightmare-one that could obliterate life as we know it.… (more)

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