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Nova Swing - Urania 1559 by Harrison M. John
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Nova Swing - Urania 1559 (2007)

by Harrison M. John, Staglianò Flora (Translator)

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4211424,983 (3.56)19
Member:saintwo2005
Title:Nova Swing - Urania 1559
Authors:Harrison M. John
Other authors:Staglianò Flora (Translator)
Info:A. Mondadori
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:2000, fantascienza

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Nova Swing by M. John Harrison (2007)

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» See also 19 mentions

English (12)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
If you've ever imagined what Schrodinger's box would look like if it were a world, then this is it. Harrison is an amazing world builder of the bizarre. I found myself even having dreams of this alter-reality. Unfortunately, his characters and story are lacking. I loved the world, but found myself disinterested in the characters and eventually cared less about the story. ( )
  revslick | Apr 19, 2012 |
I found this in parts compelling and baffling on first reading. It's a kind of SF noir that picks up on the same universe delineated in Light, one in which unimaginably old and intelligent civilisations have messed with the quantum fabric of the universe and caused uncontrollable ruptures in space-time. Impacted on this are various members of a decadent and scattered human race, scratching out a living by stealing unimaginable arefacts from the discontinuity. The noir references are fun, the characters unusually sympathetic, and there is a darkly satirical commentary on our own consumption-led society threaded through it. ( )
  Bob_Kemp | Nov 24, 2011 |
Harrison's nuevo-noir prose what's not to like. ( )
  justifiedsinner | Aug 4, 2011 |
This book is of a type that one rarely, if ever, encounters - a sequel that is utterly different in style and form to its predecessor. Nova Swing explores a patch of universe affected by the Kefahuchi tract that was introduced in 'Light'. But it isn't a sequel in a narrative sense, and I don't believe you need to read one before the other or indeed read them in any particular order.

I did, however, read 'Light' first, some years ago. I loved it. For me, 'Nova Swing' doesn't live up to it. It's a conscious attempt to pastiche a noir detective story and it has many of the characters and plot devices familiar to them, translated to suit the unusual setting of a world which the Kefahuchi tract penetrates at one point. There are weary detectives, good-hearted prostitutes, bar owners good and bad, prize fighters and carnival-like environs. And cats. Lots of ghostly cats.

It's entertaining in parts, amusing in some and it contains some new ideas. Not all of them are worked through to my satisfaction, and so I ended up disappointed that I had had a good read where I expected a great one. If you don't expect so much, you'll probably get a lot more from this. ( )
  kevinashley | Apr 18, 2011 |
It's hard to characterize these latest entries from M. John Harrison. The setting of the universe butted up against the Kefahuchi Tract doesn't so much drive the plot as it allows Harrison to examine human nature as it might exist in a waking dream. The emotions of his players are not a product of the universe but we are informed about them by the way they interact with the strangeness that surrounds them. The characters, a "tour" guide, a former entradista and thrill seeker, an affable detective and his hard as nails counterpart, each react to the Saudade "event site", a place where your expectations of reality are fractured into a million psychedelic pieces, in ways that inform us of the authors vision of human curiosity and frailty.

The continuous theme of these two works is the nature of reality and our place within it. Here, the Saudade event site serves as the vehicle to contemplate our segregation of the realistic and the imaginative. Those who venture into the site struggle not to succumb to it's weird visions but are drawn in by curiosity. At the same time, the site is expelling wide-eyed creatures full of possibility who struggle not to be swallowed by harsh reality.

Harrison is clearly intrigued by the possibility that reality could be explained in code or mathematical equations. And with that possibility comes the ability to affect nature purely by manipulating said code.

One of the biggest let downs in this follow-up was failure to build on some of the revelations on the nature of humanity given to Ed Chainese by the Shrandor at the end of Light. In fact, aside from a few casual instances, the events depicted in Light are never mentioned.

This book is a hard read and is demanding of the reader. If you are interested in exploring the quirks of humanity that the story presents, you'll enjoy Harrison's narration of his characters plights. If you're looking for an easy read on a summer afternoon, this may not be your cup of tea. ( )
  tnt-tek | Apr 28, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
M. John Harrisonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harman, DominicCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553385011, Paperback)

Years after Ed Chianese's fateful trip into the Kefahuchi Tract, the tract has begun to expand and change in ways we never could have predicted--and, even more terrifying, parts of it have actually begun to fall to Earth, transforming the landscapes they encounter.

Not far from Moneytown, in a neighborhood of underground clubs, body-modification chop shops, adolescent contract killers, and sexy streetwalking Monas, you'll find the Saudade Event Site: a zone of strange geography, twisted physics, and frightening psychic onslaughts--not to mention the black and white cats that come pouring out at irregular intervals.

Vic Serotonin is a "travel agent" into and out of Saudade. His latest client is a woman who's nearly as unpredictable as the site itself--and maybe just as dangerous. She wants a tour just as a troubling new class of biological artifacts are leaving the site--living algorithms that are transforming the world outside in inexplicable and unsettling ways. Shadowed by a metaphysically inclined detective determined to shut his illegal operation down, Vic must make sense of a universe rapidly veering toward a virulent and viral form of chaos ... and a humanity almost lost.

Questions for M. John Harrison

Amazon.com: You've returned to the same setting as Light with Nova Swing, but Nova Swing isn't really a sequel, right?

Harrison: It's a kind of companion piece. It's less sprawling than Light. It could be read independently but there's some interplay, which you would miss if you hadn't read the other book. I wanted to revisit the genetically-modified servants and entertainers--the prostitutes, gladiators, rickshaw girls, and gun-kiddies--and show them as more human than some of the human beings. A key element I wanted to extend from the first book was the idea of human behaviour as code, further undermining conventional ideas we have of personality, character, and consciousness. I liked the idea of a kind of life based on complex algorithms which can run themselves on any platform. The Kefahuchi Code is imagined as preceding physics in some way. Reality is just another substrate it can run on.

Amazon.com: If a reader came up to you and asked you what Nova Swing was about, what would you say?

Harrison: It's about being a meme and not knowing it. The set-up is this: we are on one of the Beach planets. A generation--perhaps two--after Ed Chianese took his ship The Black Cat off the Beach and into the Kefahuchi Tract, part of the Tract has fallen to earth in a city called Saudade. It's a zone of the unreliable. It's infected with K-code: or maybe it is K-code, the wrong physics loose in the universe. Everyone is drawn to the "event site" like moths to a flame, from failed entradista Vic Serotonin to middle class tourist Elizabeth Keilar; from Vic's friend Pauli DeRaad, ex vacuum commando and all-round Earth Military Contracts factotum, to Lens Aschemann the dissociated police detective. They're all looking for something their lives don't show them. But for everyone who goes in, something new and weird is coming out...

Amazon.com: You've written novels with contemporary settings, novels that mix the contemporary and SF, like Light, and then something like Nova Swing, which is all set in the future. What is it that attracts you to the SF element?

Harrison: SF is an opportunity to have an intense relationship with your own imagination. It's a kind of drive-by poetry, trashy and addictive; it's fun. After that, for me, it's an opportunity to explore that kind of imaginative artifact from inside, and use a little camped-up contemporary science as a way of generating new metaphors around my typical obsessions. While I agree with almost everything that Geoff Ryman and the Mundanes say about SF, I can't join them because I find it impossible to assign different levels of plausibility to acts of the imagination. If you limit yourself on the grounds that faster-than-light travel isn't "realistic," you might as well go whole hog and write only fiction set on the street where you live; if you limit yourself to that, you might as well go whole hog and write nothing but nonfiction; if you limit yourself to that, you might as well go whole hog, admit that writing is not the real world--and can't even successfully represent the real world--and give it up altogether. I'd be happy to do that, and indeed I've already done all of those things more than once in the last 40 years. But if you're going to write SF in the first place, why not lie back, admit it's a farrago, and enjoy it? I think there's a great deal to be gained from revaluing and enjoying the distinction between the invented and the real. As long as you maintain that, SF's a great genre.

Amazon.com: When you start a new novel, is it easier every time because you've got more experience each time?

Harrison: If you were trying to solve the same problems every time, I think it would get easier. But if you can maintain a complex relationship with who you are, and always let form show you what you could say (rather than going the rationalist route of selecting a form that fits the things you already expect to be saying), the next book will always be a challenge. Whatever you do, it's hard to escape your typical subject matter and obsessions. The main thing is to look for situations in which you can make bad decisions, otherwise you're writing from a template.

Amazon.com: You read and review a lot of novels for English media. What's most disappointed you and/or most surprised you in a good way recently?

Harrison: I didn't enjoy House of Meetings. I thought Amis's need to add literary value obscured the human facts of the Gulag. By the opposite token, Dave Eggers's What Is the What is one of the most powerful and affecting books I've read, precisely because he doesn't let his own needs and abilities overshadow the work the book is doing. Though I was a bit sniffy with it in the Times Literary Supplement, I really rather enjoyed my encounter with The Dictator and the Hammock, by Daniel Pennac. Pennac is as intrusive an author as Amis, but that's part of the contract: you don't read him, you have a lively argument with him then lose your temper because he was gaming you all along. Someone else who is gaming you, in a different way, is Chuck Palahniuk. I adored Rant, though I found its voice a bit overpowering by the end. Apart from the Eggers, the books I've liked most recently haven't been books I've reviewed: Ali Smith, The Accidental; Houellebecq's Atomised [The Elementary Particles in the US]; The Mistress's Daughter by A.M. Homes.

Amazon.com: What projects are you working on now?

Harrison: I'm writing a collection of short stories. I'm foraging about in the set-up for the next novel, trying to set enough limits for it to be writeable. I've been blogging at Uncle Zip's Window. (That turned out to be a project in itself.) I recently wrote some stories for Barbara Campbell's web-based durational performance 1001 Nights Cast; and, along with Tim Etchells, Deborah Levi, Jo Randerson, and Richard Maxwell, generated text for a performance by Kate McIntosh (Loose Promise), which premieres in Berlin later this year. The 1001 Nights rules encourage you to write quickly, relinquish control of the product, give up the obsessive write/rewrite cycle. Challenging for someone like me.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:06 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Years after Ed Chianese's trip into the Kefahuchi Tract, the Tract begins to expand and change, with pieces falling to Earth and transforming the landscape with strange artifacts and organisms that threaten surrounding areas.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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