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Mockingbird by Walter Tevis
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Mockingbird (original 1980; edition 1984)

by Walter Tevis

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5051920,141 (4.01)9
Member:Blue_Astral
Title:Mockingbird
Authors:Walter Tevis
Info:Corgi Adult (1984), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:science fiction, robots, dystopian

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Mockingbird by Walter Tevis (1980)

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English (16)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Wow, just wow. Why has this work not come to my attention before? I can see now why it's in the Masterworks series.

If you're looking for adventure or a fast-paced thriller - walk away now. This is a slow-burner with a gentle pace, but it'll keep you hooked. Set a couple of hundred years in the future, the world is on a downward spiral. No great catastrophe, or alien incursion - just a running-down of humanity. A couple of sparks still exist that might rekindle the flame - a near omniscient robot, and the one man left who can read. The slow unfolding of their stories is set out in a simple and measured way: the writing is very good indeed.

I'm not going to elaborate further on the story, and you shouldn't read the blurb before diving in. Just read it. ( )
  Noisy | Sep 7, 2014 |
A classic and justly famous dystopia, written in a deceptively simple fashion and quite moving (watching the two leads rediscover literacy and love was surprisingly gripping). ( )
  salimbol | Sep 20, 2013 |
Recensione su: http://wp.me/p3X6aw-ah
Review at: http://wp.me/p3X6aw-ah ( )
  Saretta.L | Apr 26, 2013 |
Mockingbird is a book about an android who is weary of life and can't kill himself and the human race who is killing itself and too drugged to be weary of life.

It was in parts a beautiful book and a novel exploration of well-trodden themes.

I had some issues with artistic choices that the author made which made me drop this from a 4 star to a 3 star book. First, the author sacrifices immersion in the world for plot. I know that there are good reasons for doing so and that his chosen "voice", that of journal entries, does not lend itself to the type of immersion that I would find satisfying. Additionally, I found some of the repetitions of bits of poetry to pull me out of the experience as well. It wasn't that they did not fit with the voice and story, it was just unsatisfying. ( )
  Hegemellman | Apr 2, 2013 |
Perhaps I'm losing my taste for dystopias, at least the futuristic kind. Reading the gushing reviews all over the internet makes me feel almost as isolated from society as the inhabitants of Tevis's moribund 25th century USA.

The big idea is that after the standard technological misadventures - WWIII, fallout, mass-death, global government - humankind has come to eschew all interaction and individual expression, with people retreating into their inner worlds while being fed, clothed and stupefied with fertility-inhibiting drugs by a decrepit robotocracy prone to malfunction and scarcely able to perpetuate itself. The chief symptom of this great turning-inward is that no-one can read anymore (nor does anyone want to), and so enter our hero, a middle-aged everyman Adam who manages to rediscover this long-suppressed art by viewing an old educational film hidden in a stash of pornos. This, and his happening upon a latter-day Eve who is the only undrugged, fertile woman left in the world, sparks a competently-plotted journey of discovery with a conclusion highly satisfying to all involved.

A couple of bits I liked: the background phenomenon of people publicly immolating themselves in threes as the ennui gets too much for them. And the best thing in the book, an uplifting conversation with a bus which seems to have driven right out of a Douglas Adams story.

So I suppose I'd have to recommend this strongly to anyone who likes this kind of thing. It's not a bad book. But there are three reasons I didn't enjoy it, and at least two of them must warrant depriving it of a star:

Firstly and perhaps most unfairly, I found it a chore to read, because most of the book is written from the perspective of people with only a basic level of (emotional and actual) literacy. So the more successful Tevis is in demonstrating the constraints of his characters, the less room there is for any dynamism in the prose. I appreciate that most people prefer a plain style, but this isn't Hemingway... it's an immersion in the painful struggle of the characters to express things that we take for granted. I got the point fairly early on and by the end felt as weary as you'd expect after several hours in the company of people with very little emotional experience and limited capacity to express it.

Second, I was pretty unconvinced by Tevis's choice of dystopia. Sure, we can always point at our modern connected media-infused over-medicated existences and say this book is prophetic, but you can find something prophetic about any SF novel. That's kind of the point, isn't it? I think where Tevis lost me was with his universal child brainwashing complexes and non-existent economy (free basics for all and no work). In general I find more plausible those scenarios born of entropy than those born of some sinister over-arching system.

Finally I suspect part of the reason I'm not so moved as Everyone Else on the Internet is because this is very much a "triumph of the human spirit" novel. I can't stand triumphs of the human spirit. I also dislike the fetishisation of reading, and though I don't think "Mockingbird" goes that far, many of its cheerleaders do. ( )
  yarb | Nov 27, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
The inner life of a human being is a vast and varied realm and does not concern itself alone with stimulating arrangements of color, form, and design. Edward Hopper
Dedication
For Eleanora Walker
First words
Walking up Fifth Avenue at midnight, Spofforth begins to whistle.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345431626, Paperback)

Mockingbird is a powerful novel of a future world where humans are dying.  Those that survive spend their days in a narcotic bliss or choose a quick suicide rather than slow extinction. Humanity's salvation rests with an android who has no desire to live, and a man and a woman who must discover love, hope, and dreams of a world reborn.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The future is a grim place in which the declining human population wanders, drugged and lulled by electronic bliss. Even Spofforth - the most perfect machine ever created - cannot bear the oppressive existence. But hope lies in the form of a man and a woman who find passion and joy in love and in books.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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