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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane…

All the Birds in the Sky (edition 2016)

by Charlie Jane Anders (Author)

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8324710,861 (3.59)91
Title:All the Birds in the Sky
Authors:Charlie Jane Anders (Author)
Info:Tor Books (2016), 320 pages

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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Author)

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    A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins (wandering_star)
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    Postsingular by Rudy Rucker (hairball)
    hairball: All the Birds in the Sky made me think about Postsingular and Hylozoic for some reason--maybe it's the Bay Area thing, but it's also something about the attitude.

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» See also 91 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
I've been eagerly anticipating this book, and Charlie Jane Anders delivered! A heady, emotionally centered story of childhood friends (one on the mad scientist end of the spectrum, the other a bit witchy), their paths into their respective fields and the course of their relationship against the backdrop of the brewing war between technology and magic. Great characters (including a genderqueer character!) and lovely, grounded sense of time, detail, and place make this a winner ( )
  Gretchening | Jul 20, 2017 |
Patricia and Laurence don't fit in very well at their elementary school or get along with their parents, but that's about where their similarities end. Patricia talks to birds and grows up to attend magic school and become a witch. Laurence tinkers with computers and builds tiny gadgets and eventually world-altering machines. Throughout their lives they are frequently drawn toward each other, by either magic or technology, and then violently ripped apart. Together, they might destroy mankind, but only they together can save it.

This is a really fascinating story about the discord between magic and technology - between fantasy and science fiction. I really enjoyed reading it, and it gave me a lot to think about. Charlie Jane Anders' experience as a writer of short fiction really shows. The writing is fantastic but the plot feels more like a long series of events than a structured novel, and there's little character growth and almost no dialog. The book is a slim 315 pages, which is a good thing, but everything just seemed to move so fast - my biggest problem with this book was that I liked it and wish it had slowed down so I could savor it more. It felt like it could actually be about 12 books. ( )
  norabelle414 | Jul 14, 2017 |
I spent 85% of the book hoping the protagonists would meet a bloody end at the hands of the assassin. I have never seen a higher concentration of vapid, self-absorbed, and ludicrously cruel characters, which is really saying something since I've read Bret Easton Ellis. This book would have been greatly improved if Anders had spent less time describing hipster coffee shops and more on plot and character development. ( )
  amanda4242 | Jun 26, 2017 |
The construction of this story is interesting, following two people from their awkward pre-teen years to their adulthood and epic destinies. I found Patricia's story more compelling, and the way certain characters treated her was heartbreaking. Laurence's approach to relationships with women was kind of skeevy -- he seems a bit like one of those guys who think of attractive women as not exactly people. I liked the ending, and how it took a piece of technology in a direction I didn't expect. ( )
  lavaturtle | Jun 11, 2017 |
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders is a Hugo Award shortlisted novel that I remember hearing a lot about when it first came out, but which I didn't bother reading at that time because I wasn't entirely sure I'd like it. I am very glad that lots of other people liked it and nominated it for a Hugo, because it means I finally did read it and it was great.

One of the great things about this book is that it is genuinely both science fiction and fantasy. (And not in the space fantasy way that annoys me.) Of the two main characters, one is a witch and one is a mad scientist making crazy gadgets. The story alternates their points of view and tells their story on sweeping scales, starting from their childhoods and running up to their mid-twenties. There are talking birds, time machines, sentient trees, and artificial intelligence. Really, this book has everything, including a writing style that draws you in and keeps you turning pages.

And including compelling characters. Patricia and Laurence start off as social outcasts with crappy parents — actually, Patricia's parents put me in mind of the Dursleys — who end up friends because they don't have anyone else. Various aspects of their painful childhoods are the real low point of the book. Their middle school years take place in roughly our present, I think, and so a ten year jump forward in time places the story in a science fictional near future. With Patricia being a witch and Laurence a mad genius, they are both star-crossed and fated to know each other. And suffering a lot of angst from both possibilities.

All the Birds in the Sky also pits science/technology and magic against each other and does so in a way that, astoundingly, doesn't piss me off. (Because usually when these things come up the message from the author is science/technology = bad, magic/nature = good.) We are shown the flaws and strengths of both and, in the privileged position of the reader, we get to see the way both misunderstand the other. The resolution of the science versus magic conflict is also awesome. For a book that started off quirky and entertaining and mostly almost fun and focussing on the small scale of Patricia and Laurence's friendship and their personal situations, it ends up on a surprisingly epic scale.

I really enjoyed All the Birds in the Sky and I'm really glad the Hugo awards pushed me into reading it. I highly recommend it to all fans of fantasy and science fiction, especially in contemporary or near-future settings. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for Anders's other work. All the Birds in the Sky is a dizzying and awesome story.

5 / 5 stars

You can read more of my reviews on my blog. ( )
1 vote Tsana | Jun 5, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anders, Charlie JaneAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hayden, Patrick NielsenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Staehle, WillCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weinberg, MiriamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zeitz, SophieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the game of life and evolution there are three players at the table: human beings, nature, and machines. I am firmly on the side of nature. But nature, I suspect, is on the side of machines. -George Dyson, Darwin Among the Machines
To Annalee
First words
When Patricia was six years old, she found a wounded bird.
"You never learned the secret,” said Roberta. “How to be a crazy motherfucker and get away with it. Everybody else does it. What, you didn’t think they were all sane, did you? Not a one of them. They’re all crazier than you and me put together. They just know how to fake it. You could too, but you’ve chosen to torture all of us instead. That’s the definition of evil right there: not faking it like everybody else. Because all of us crazy fuckers can’t stand it when someone else lets their crazy show. It’s like bugs under the skin. We have to destroy you. It’s nothing personal."
You know … no matter what you do, people are going to expect you to be someone you’re not. But if you’re clever and lucky and work your butt off, then you get to be surrounded by people who expect you to be the person you wish you were.
nature doesn’t ‘find ways’ to do anything. Nature has no opinion, no agenda. Nature provides a playing field, a not particularly level one, on which we compete with all creatures great and small. It’s more that nature’s playing field is full of traps.
Boredom is the mind’s scar tissue.
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Patricia's a witch,
Laurence is a scientist.
The world is ending.

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