HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
SantaThing signup ends Monday at 12pm Eastern US. Check it out!
dismiss
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

Nova Swing

by M. John Harrison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Kefahuchi Tract (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5972430,788 (3.52)23
It is some time after Ed Chianese's trip into the Kefahuchi Tract. A major industry of the Halo is now tourism. The Tract has begun to expand and change, but, more problematically, parts of it have also begun to fall to earth, piecemeal, on the Beach planets. We are in a city, perhaps on New Venusport or Motel Splendido: next to the city is the event site, the zone, from out of which pour new, inexplicable artefacts, organisms and escapes of living algorithm - the wrong physics loose in the universe. They can cause plague and change. An entire department of the local police, Site Crime, exists to stop them being imported into the city by adventurers, entradistas, and the men known as 'travel agents', profiteers who can manage - or think they can manage -the bad physics, skewed geographies and psychic onslaughts of the event site. But now a new class of semi-biological artefact is finding its way out of the site, and this may be more than anyone can handle.… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 23 mentions

English (22)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Harrison's strategy for dealing with the perennial "second volume in the trilogy" challenge doesn't come clear until very near the end, but fortunately, the build up to that moment when we say "Oh, riiiight, now I see where we've been going -- and, maybe, where we're going from here" is never less than entertaining, if at times a little confusing.

I'd like to reread this, one day soon -- having also reread Light, the first novel in the Kefahuchi Tract Trilogy. I told myself, as I started on this, that it wasn't necessary to remember the fine points of Light, as this is set some time in the future (why do I think it's as much as 400 years? Am I making that up?) from the first novel, and the only references to the characters and events of that novel are unreliable memories and sidelong glances. But by the end, I began to realize that I might have been wrong, and I might get a better, more satisfying handle on the events of this novel if I'm clearer on how (to mis-quote Gladiator, which I am always happy to do) what we do in one life will echo in the next.

With all that in mind, a few random observations:

I LOVE Saudade. Harrison's world-building is never less than clever and convincing, in a weird, over the top sort of way. If you have to live in a city that has been blighted by being on the edge of the incursion of a spooky, reality-bending alien site, you want it to be Saudade.

I love Harrison's causal knowledgeableness of classic SF and fantasy. I probably missed 90% of his off-hand references, but the 10% of those I caught made life worth living .... Just one (page 142 of my edition): The night's weather pursued him from bar to bar, The World of Today to The Breakaway Station, lacquering his hair across his reddened face ...

Two pages later, he mentions a tour ship heading off to "The Planet of the Alphane Moons." I love you, M. John Harrison.

I don't love that my friend M. John can be a little, hmmm, withholding, plot point-wise. Obviously, what's going on between small-time crook Vic Serotonin, Detective Lens Aschemann, and crime kingpin Paulie DeRaad (Do you love the names? If you don't, you are dead to me ...) is the McGuffin of all McGuffins (until it's not ...), but I have to confess that I was a bit startled when I realized that the crime Aschemann is investigating is actually a serial killer, with a very distinctive MO. Might have been told that a bit earlier, I think ...

I adore the references and allusions to The Strugatsky Brothers' Roadside Picnic. Even if it wasn't anything more than a wonderful tribute to one of my favorite novels (and it is, it is ...), it brilliantly takes the ideas developed by the Strugatskys from 1970s Soviet Union to the world of today. ( )
  maura853 | Jul 11, 2021 |
Two stars means 'It was OK' according to goodreads which really sums up 95% of this novel. I'm not going to go to town on this review. In fact, it's more of a personal reminder or a general overview of why I didn't quite dislike it, but certainly didn't rate it at all. So here it is then. This is the story of an anomaly or part of it anyway that basically drops off the main anomaly and causes a kind of rent or tear through to somewhere else. Predictably, things come through from that side and people go through to that side. If it sounds like I'm bored writing this its because I am. A book that can make me bored all over again when I write the review is definitely a book to avoid. Some of it was pretty good. There were parts that made me smile or sent my thoughts off at a tangent, and for that I am thankful but seriously now, most of this novel is very, very slow going and is little more than an exercise in character development. This wouldn't be a bad thing at all if there was a story to go with it, but what story there is didn't hold my interest.

I liked 'Light', but this just dragged a little to much for my taste and in the end didn't really go anywhere, at least nowhere that I wasn't expecting all along.

Not great, but not terrible either. Just OK.
( )
  SFGale | Mar 23, 2021 |
(...)

This was another successful Harrison for me – and like his latest The Sunken Land Begins To Rise Again, one that I will probably reread in the coming decade, just as I will reread Light. Now that I think of it, I guess I’ll enjoy Light even more now that I have a better grip on what Harrison tries to do with his books. I might even read the last 50 pages again tonight – expect no update here however, it will be a private affair. Nova Swing is recommended, 4.5 stars – caveats below. I’ll read the final Kefahuchi book, Empty Space, sooner than later.

To end this review, another lengthy quote, from R. Scott Bakker, who replied to the bit of Harrison I opened this review with, in a 2008 interview with Pat of Fantasy Hotlist:

“For Harrison, who is an avowed post-modernist, the reader should be continually confronted with the performative as opposed to the representational function of language. They should be reminded (apparently over and over and over) of the power of words to spin realities, to the point where the work becomes a multifarious, promiscuous, meaning event (albeit one that is too often generated by the most mechanical of po-mo tactics, elision). Forcing the reader to draw whole characters out of fragments, narrative arcs out of discordant events – to “fulfill their part of the bargain” – this is the true way to make the reader an active part of the process, and so a critically minded, enlightened citizen.

I don’t know whether to laugh or yawn anymore. For better or worse, readers without literature degrees tend to hate this stuff. They like coherent characters and stories and settings. So when you start screwing with “representational expectations” (in other words, unilaterally rewriting the “bargain”) by and large all you end up doing is preaching to the choir, writing for people with literature degrees, which is to say, for people who already share your values. In other words, you simply end up catering to their expectations. You become an “upscale” version of the very commercial entertainers you continually denigrate.”

We’re hardwired for this shit, which is why you see the same pattern repeating itself over and over in every sphere of cultural production. Every sphere has a self-styled elite who both identify and flatter themselves via their values, then criticize others for not sharing those values. “Our values are the values and you guys are losers because of this and this and this…”

This pattern bums me out because it swallows so much talent in our society and aims it inward. Harrison really is a prodigious talent, but he can’t seem to see his way past this post-modern crap. This is another universal human pattern: whatever your yardstick happens to be, nothing else seems to measure up – it quickly becomes the yardstick.

Don’t blame the cretinized masses for not reading your stuff. If you really are afraid, if you really are a writer with a social conscience, then go out and meet them. Write something that communicates to them, and not just to those who already share your values. Stop writing for “yourself,” or for the “page,” or for whatever clever euphemism you use to cover the fact that you’re simply a producer of a kind of a high-end cultural commodity.

Until you do, you’re just another entertainer. Which is okay, so long as you’re not pretending otherwise. Say, “I write for people like me, and I’m not all that interested in making a social difference.”


I guess Bakker is right too – although I’d hesitate to fully subscribe to the intentional tribunal of Harrison he paints at the end – I simply don’t have enough grip on Harrison to judge either way. But the bulk of Bakker’s argument stands – as I said, in the beginning: taste & polemics. It is clear later day Harrison will not appeal to everybody – although you do not need a literature degree at all, just an open mind and a palate that can handle the poetic, the uncertain and the undefined. Nova Swing is not the same postmodern affair Light was – and as such maybe the best entry level Harrison novel I’ve come across so far. That, or newbies could try one of his short story collections.

“The known is slicked on to everything like a kind of grease. You would do anything to avoid the things you already know.”

Full review on Weighing A Pig Doesn't Fatten It ( )
  bormgans | Feb 21, 2021 |
I had slightly higher expectations for this novel simply because I was blown away by all the awesome ideas that he managed to stuff into [b:Light|17735|Light (Empty Space Trilogy #1)|M. John Harrison|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389700041s/17735.jpg|295250], and don't get me wrong, he continues the trend beautifully and a lot more cohesively from Vic's PoV, a travel agent that sometimes takes chumps to the Kefahuchi Tract, or at least to what has become of it after it descended to, and transformed, huge portions of Earth.

To be clear, this means that the laws of what should or should not be possible have been temporarily suspended in this area, and it also means that this novel has firmly slotted itself into the category of the New Weird.

A lot happens, just as many ideas are paraded about in awesome strangeness, including K-Ship tech on the surface of the planet in the hands of shop owners, of semi-intelligent tattoos, the need for rickshaws, and some of the funniest juxtapositions of gene-splicing technology for the marks that I've read, including transforming yourself to have the beauty of an old Einstein, because peeps in the 25th century just don't understand certain things... they should be going after his BRAINS... Not his LOOKS... lol

And this is also a mystery. The murders are still going on and it harkens straight back to the first novel and the odd end we got.

But most of all, with all the sex and the dreams and all the sheer naked desire for something more being displayed on everyone's scenes, it's also good commentary. About them. Not us. We certainly look nothing like that, do we?

Still, as much as I love so much of what's going on here, I wasn't quite as invested in these characters as I should have been, and that's despite the great line, "After all, no one has ever given a fuck about a fat man named Anton." I mean, truly, in a line-by line exploration of the novel, it's rich, rich, rich and literary. It makes me think and wonder and glory in the use of the language. It's truly a step up from normal SF. The mystery is a sight more accomplished and interesting that most, and that's merely because the setting was so damn well fleshed out. :)

Still, I have to wonder if the incidentals and the world-building might have been just a tad too strong in its flavors and it drowned out the taste of Vic's story. I mean, not to spoil anything here, he stops being a travel agent, and that's probably a good thing since everybody and their fat dog either wants to betray him or just went ahead and did it, and it's really not safe back at home, anyway. When it comes to themes, it's fine, it's good, and it's right, but I wonder if the plot might have been served better by something a bit more SATISFYING and MEATY, you know?

I complain. But I really ought to point out that the sheer weight of idea awesomeness in this series, so far, far outweighs six out of seven SF novels on the market. I complain about characters, while everything else happens to be freakily awesome. :) I just feel like it missed an opportunity. Or perhaps the intent wasn't quite that satisfying for me so it never would have won with me. *sigh* ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
I read Light and liked it and found its shifting narrative intriguing so I gave Nova Swing a try and 50 pages in, can't make heads or tails of what I'm reading except its a major tonal shift and repeating some 80s cyberpunk tropes and recycling Stalker. ( )
  LamontCranston | May 3, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
M. John Harrisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harman, DominicCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
'The further into the Zone the nearer to Heaven.'
Boris & Arkady Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic
'Nostelgia and science fiction are spookily close.'
A.A. Gill, Sunday Times
'Our lives are more like fragmentary dreams than the enactment of conscious selves.'
John Gray, Straw Dogs
Dedication
To Lara, Julian and Dan
First words
Vic Serotonin sat in a bar on Straint Street, just outside the aureole of the Saudade event, in conversation with a fat man from another planet called Antoyne.
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

It is some time after Ed Chianese's trip into the Kefahuchi Tract. A major industry of the Halo is now tourism. The Tract has begun to expand and change, but, more problematically, parts of it have also begun to fall to earth, piecemeal, on the Beach planets. We are in a city, perhaps on New Venusport or Motel Splendido: next to the city is the event site, the zone, from out of which pour new, inexplicable artefacts, organisms and escapes of living algorithm - the wrong physics loose in the universe. They can cause plague and change. An entire department of the local police, Site Crime, exists to stop them being imported into the city by adventurers, entradistas, and the men known as 'travel agents', profiteers who can manage - or think they can manage -the bad physics, skewed geographies and psychic onslaughts of the event site. But now a new class of semi-biological artefact is finding its way out of the site, and this may be more than anyone can handle.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.52)
0.5
1 4
1.5
2 16
2.5 6
3 26
3.5 19
4 50
4.5 4
5 18

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 164,344,987 books! | Top bar: Always visible