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The Unreasoning Mask by Philip José Farmer

The Unreasoning Mask (1981)

by Philip José Farmer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (5)  Italian (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 5 of 5
I don't remember anything about this book which was written in 1981. But Farmer always writes good science fiction so I recommend it based on that. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 16, 2017 |
Interesting but ultimately unsatisfying. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | Apr 29, 2017 |
While reading The Unreasoning Mask by Philip Jose Farmer I was reminded of a science fiction novel from the preceding century, Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. In Verne's novel the powerful character of Captain Nemo and his mighty submarine, The Nautilus, develop a relationship that may have been inspiration for Captain Ramstan and his living space ship, al-Buraq. I have no evidence of this connection, but Farmer's vision in creating Ramstan is on a level worthy of the comparison. It is this vision that makes The Unreasoning Mask stand above most space operas; for in addition to the Captain and his ship there is a plot that literally encompasses the nature of our universe and others as well. In the future the fate of the universe rests upon this man's shoulder -- Ramstan. a thoughtful and moral man, becomes a fascinated yet reluctant pawn in the hands of the strange forces which rise to fight the deadly destroyer. Ultimately Ramstan is the one man who, in a fearful race against time, can stop the destruction. But what price must he pay for becoming the savior of intelligent-kind?

In this exceptional race to save the Universe the protagonist is one Hud Ramstan, Muslin captain of an extraordinary space ship known as al-Buraq. The ship is a living entity capable of changing shape and seemingly embodying affection for its master as evidenced by walls that quiver with excitement. The connection between the Captain and his ship, with its special abilities which include an instantaneous drive called alaraf, is a key aspect of one of the most exciting action sequences in the plot of the novel. However, the main action of the book is on another scale--one that is metaphysical in nature with Ramstan dealing with god through an intermediary called the glyfa which is a sentient egg-shaped object that is older than the universe. Ramstan's dealings with the glyfa, are aided by three aliens called the Vwoordha that are almost stranger than the glyfa. The imaginative nature of this metaphysical plot is beyond my descriptive capabilities and I would not spoil the story even if I could, but the plot was able to keep this reader on edge with wonder at what mysterious complications would ensue next. The story was leavened with supporting characters whose relationship with Ramstan provided depth for both his character and the nature of the world in which he was living. One of these, a Dr. Toyce, commented, "You can't turn around in this world without bumping into a question."(p 222) This could be taken in both a serious and a light-hearted way, at least until the ultimate enemy, known simply as the Bolg, appeared.

Few novels this short (less than two-hundred-fifty pages) have as many intriguing ideas, complex discussions about the fate of universes, and fascinating alien entities. There is even a mystic named Benagur who is Ramstan's bete noir and who succeeds in making his trials even more difficult. The novel combines aspects of an archetypal heroic journey with the action of a metaphysical space opera. In doing so The Unreasoning Mask becomes a masterpiece that provides both the serious and amateur interested in Science Fiction with an above average reading experience. ( )
  jwhenderson | Nov 12, 2013 |
Fantastic premise and incredibly grand in scale, this is one of those books that takes you through one end of existence and out the other (only scraping the sides due to the author's occasionally stale prose) into the realms of the infinite. Nice egg too ;) ( )
  ropie | Sep 23, 2011 |
Characters: Bleh. I liked the egg. The lead was okay. Actually, the Commodore was the most fun. None of them stole the show though.
Plot: Not really one. Just an excuse to give his idea some substance. I mean, the whole actual plot could be: 'Man steals egg. Evil blob shows up. Man self destructs to destroy blob after deciding motivation is pointless.'
Style: It was all just an excuse for the author to postulate on the form of the universe. The 'revelation' was entertaining, but it was horribly long worded. Many of the characters communicated in nonsense. I particularly enjoyed the last hoorah of the main character: 'Fuck it, I don't know what the truth is, but this blob is going for earth so I'm going to blow it up.' ( )
  Isamoor | Jun 25, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip José Farmerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gill, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lakey, ValCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399126732, Hardcover)

Philip José Farmer, the wildly creative author of the bestselling Riverworld series, here delights his wide readership with a compelling new novel. All the skills and the soaring imagination which have won Farmer over a million dedicated fans are abundant in this highly charged, far-future, space adventure story. The Unreasoning Mask is the story of Ramstan, captain of al-Buraq, a rare model starship. It is capable of alaraf drive: instantaneous travel between two points of space. Three of these special ships were built to explore and make contact with the many sentient races inhabiting the universe. Suddenly, one of the ships mysteriously disappears. And then it is discovered that an unidentifiable "creature" is marauding through the universe, totally annihilating intelligent life on planet after planet. Ranstan, a thoughtful and moral man, becomes a fascinated yet reluctant pawn in the hands of the strange forces which arise to fight the deadly destroyer. Ultimately, he is the one man who, in a fearful race against time, can stop the destruction. But what price must he pay for becoming the savior of intelligent-kind? The Unreasoning Mask is Farmer at his best--fast-paced, complex, slightly mystical, high-action adventure.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:47 -0400)

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