- File Size: 961 KB
- Print Length: 240 pages
- Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (April 1, 2014)
- Publication Date: April 1, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00J5X5OM2
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,544 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$5.99|
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The Compleat Traveller in Black Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Brunner explores Chaos's control and degradation of humankind in several of its ways. The first story tweaks mindless religion. It might even show how one can choose atheism, after encountering a god face to face and finding him unworthy of belief. Another of these gentle stories undermines magical thinking - again, not because it fails, but because its success is not worth having. And so with the faith in luck that makes Las Vegas the holy city of Chance, and so the unwarranted sense of entitlement that demands ever-richer result for ever-poorer effort at earning it, and so for blind pursuit of power irrespective of the cost or of who pays it. Since these stories are built around layers of paradox, Brunner's mechanism is itself a paradox, the smallest of magics to achieve the largest of consequences.
Brunner was one of the best SF writers of the 70s and 80s, author of "Shockwave Rider" and other stories of chilling prescience. Among all of his writings, though, "Traveller in Black" may be his finest and most under-stated, under-rated achievements. These stories have held up well over the thirty years since they were written; since they pass in a distant place and age, there is little in them that can look dated. I recommend these stories to any thinking reader.
.. but none of the recipients of the wishes get *exactly* what they want ...
In some ways, this book is a bookend to Larry Niven's "The Magic Goes Away" (and various sequels, etc.). The flavor and style is similar, although this book is very different. In any event, this is one of those touchstone books of fantasy: you'll see where other writers (including Niven's works cited above!) have "borrowed" some of the dazzling images in Brunner's classic. This gem is a great read and I recommend it highly.
It feels very much like some of Moorcock's Melnibonean work. The world is young, and still in many ways in the grip of the elder era of Chaos. The laws of science, logic and reason are still not in full evidence, with the laws of magic and chaos still trying to hold their ground.
Enter into this realm the Traveller in Black. The Compleat Traveller in Black collects a number of stories Brunner wrote about a mysterious figure who works for Order and reason. In Moorcock terms, he is a definite champion for Law. The traveler encounters forces of elemental chaos, and by actions both subtle and gross, by himself and through sometimes unwitting accomplices,works to impose reason on the world. He often does this by granting wishes. One to a customer, but the results are not often what the wisher expects. Sometimes, not even the Traveler himself is fully aware of the consequences of the wishes...
The stories have a unity of voice and vision even though they were written over a period of twenty years. The traveler is a character difficult to get to know, but we get an interesting portrait of him and the world he is helping fashion. We see through the stories how his actions shape the world around him, diminishing its magic, increasing its stability. And indeed, in the end, he creates a world that not only does not need him, but is positively opposed to his further existence.
I found this an interesting counterpoint to Vance's Dying Earth, set at the opposite end of time. I think the Dying Earth is a better realized milieu, overall, but certainly, many fantasy fans will enjoy this look at the morning of the world by Brunner.
But his power is very limited.
He can grant wishes -- the wishes of other people, not his own. And he does, but usually not the way they expect. And he does it when they are not expecting it.
I am sure you have heard: "Be careful what you wish for. You might get it." The Traveler in Black is the personification of that statement.
Still, while he seems very impersonal, he also comes across as a GOOD person. The ones who suffer as a result of his granted wishes deserve it.
And as to leaving the world a better place -- he leaves the world a place with less magic. Every time he grants a wish, some great source of magic disappears. The final story helps explain his long journey.
The Traveler in Black has lived in my imagination for a long time now. He is a presence you cannot forget, unique in fantasy.
Ages ago I introduced him into my Dungeons and Dragons game. It was interesting to say how carefully players started making sure they did not phrase stupid things as wishes, and how often they still failed in doing so.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Probably my favourite of John Brunner's books. Was delighted to find it available.Published 4 months ago by Charles Gray
Kind of an odd ball in terms of Brunners' overall production, this is kind of a fantasy rather than science fiction. Read morePublished 11 months ago by leafslinger
Loved this. Not sure if I had ever read this work, but I like the concept, and the way wishes are fulfilled. Clever.Published 11 months ago by Calypsoreid
The best way I can describe this book is to take a premise by Neal Stephenson, add in China Mieville's vocabulary, and put it all together with writing crafted with the elegance... Read morePublished 13 months ago by D. Barrett
just finished my first time through this piece. much more to think about. not sure quite how to feel - other than feel stimulation of the mindPublished 15 months ago by Joe Passman
...but it's worth it. This book is simply and elegantly written, and ended up being an unexpected pleasure that I looked forward to coming back to each time I got a few moments to... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Emmie
A science-fiction master takes us on a well-imagined adventure in this picaresque journey through the universe. Recommended for sci-fi fans.Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
a fun read. Brunner took humor as a base and blended a fun fantasy into it.Published 17 months ago by Samuel L. Worley Jr.
So glad this finally hit Kindle!
The ultimate in you get what you ask for - a classic.
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