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253 by Geoff Ryman


by Geoff Ryman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4821732,293 (3.54)38
  1. 00
    The Testimony by James Smythe (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Both are accounts of many characters, rather than a single protagonist, overtaken by grave misfortunes.

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English (16)  German (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
253 started as a series of entries on the web, which eventually evolved into this book.

It's a clever concept; 253 passengers on a train "running headlong into destiny", 253 words describing their exterior and interior states.
As you read through the book (in whatever order you may prefer--like Cortozar's "Hopscotch") you get the feel of city living, how a place like London can still feel 'small', people's lives interconnected in ways not immediately evident.

Ryman also has a sense of the multicultural nature of London, the immigrants, the various aspects of class divisions amongst Londoners.

Excellent stuff, not quite SF or fantasy, with leanings towards experimental literature than anything else... ( )
  VladVerano | Oct 20, 2015 |
This is a totally different book than I would normally read.
Its about all the people on a Bakerloo line tube train one January morning in 1995.
Some of the people are interlinked all have a story. Some of the people are believable some arent. Very orginal book just not my cup of tea. ( )
  Daftboy1 | Mar 3, 2014 |
Too experimental for me. Would recommend to the voyeuristic who are in for a short, extremely short story collection, probably would appeal to them. 253 human stories taking place in 253 words on the 7 minute-ish ride on a tube train across/beneath the Thames.

I wanted to like it and enjoy it, but it just doesn't click for me. Maybe it will for you. ( )
  texascheeseman | Oct 23, 2013 |
First released on the internet I read this book there. Quite a good charachter study of all the passengers on an underground train. ( )
  wrichard | Oct 9, 2013 |
When you are on a bus, train or airplane looking around you do you ever wonder what the other passengers are thinking? In Geoff Ryman's novel, 253 you get to do just that to the 252 passengers and driver on a Bakerloo Line train. 253 occurs on January 11th 1995 which is the day that Ryman learned that his best friend was dying of AIDs.

253 was originally an interactive web novel, which you still can access to read online. The design of the book is unique in that it is based off the number of passengers the train can carry. The train consists of seven carriages, 36 seats on each and 1 driver seat, totaling 253 passengers. Each passenger on the train is described in outward appearance, inside information and what they are doing or thinking in 253 words each.

You might say nothing remarkable happens on the Bakerloo Line train as it makes it way from Embankment station to the Elephant and Castle, but you would be wrong. The little snippets of the passenger's lives tie together into a rich, inviting world of human nature. Sometimes the stories seem unreal and made up, but then others pull at your heart in a reminder of something you have experienced yourself. For those who need more than those intimate glimpses into the other passenger's lives, there is an end of the line section that offers a bit of violence and sensationalism. Along with that comes a handy seating map of each carriage so that you can see where people are in relation to others.

I found this to be a pleasurable read that I could carry in my purse to fill time waiting in lines and the doctor offices. I loved the nosey glimpses into the character's lives and often times wished I knew more about what would happen to them outside of the train. Then there were characters that I wished I never got a glimpse at their lives. Never the less, it was a wonderful mish-mash of people and experiences that I would expect to see on a train and a few I did not. I would highly recommend this novel as a read to my friends and book club. ( )
1 vote Appliquetion | May 25, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Is it a novel? Doubtful. Certainly not in the traditional sense. Is it worth reading? Definitely. Is it the fiction of the future? I hope not. As a one-off, it's entertaining, and even thought-provoking, but it took me a long time to read, simply because I kept setting it aside after every half-dozen or so entries to read something with a more coherent narrative. Call me old-fashioned, but I doubt I'd try another.
Two hundred and fifty-three people (including one befuddled pigeon) ride a London tube train heading for a crash. In 253 sketches consisting of 253 words each, Geoff Ryman provides these unwittingly doomed riders with vivid individuality, getting inside the heads of everyone from a disillusioned Punjabi dry cleaner to that pigeon with a gleeful omniscience.

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Geoff Rymanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mead, NicCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One-page sketches of 253 passengers on a train in the London Underground, heading for a crash. The passengers range from a woman in love with Saddam Hussein, to a man who tends sick gorillas.

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