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Jem Paperback – September 1, 1994


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Paperback, September 1, 1994
$152.88 $0.01

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; Reprint edition (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671876252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671876258
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,122,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

SALES POINTS * #41 in the Millennium SF Masterworks series, a library of the finest science fiction ever written. * 'Frederik Pohl, one of the old pros of the genre, never takes unnecessary risks. For him, science fiction is a form of play - an excusable indulgence since he plays it so much better than most people.' The New York Times Book Review * 'The most consistently able writer science fiction has yet produced' -- Kingsley Amis * 'One of Frederik Pohl's best novels - and my personal favourite. Complex people in tough situations on a marvelous and gritty world - who could ask for more from any novel?' Greg Bear --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 1997
Format: Paperback
Not many authors can "build" a planet in enough detail to make it seem realistic to the reader. If they can, however, their names are often spoken with reverance among SF fans for their brilliance and ingenuity. Herbert, Niven, Robinson, and now Pohl.

But JEM is more than just the detailing of a planet, it is the creation of a civilization, where Earth can no longer support people and so they have to move on and try to start again, only our petty human disagreements get in the way and we almost risk utopia for the sake of being superior to someone else.

There is so much going on in this novel that it's almost impossible to discuss, but Pohl handles everything perfectly, from the charactization of the humans, to the imaginative aliens that inhabit the world of Jem. Yes, there are setbacks, there are fights, and the people almost fail, the black night bearing down on them, but the novel ends with a ray of light, the final few lines certain to resonate long after the novel has been closed (that's a cliche thrown around a lot, but here it is completely applicable.) It's a must for anyone and everyone.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By E. Jensen on February 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I liked this novel. The new planet Jem and its strange new lifeforms were written very well. Jem orbits a tiny, not-very-hot star the same way our Moon orbits Earth. That is, with one side always light and the opposite side dark. Three sentient species inhabit the planet: mole-like Creepies who live underground in burrows, crab-like Krinpit on the surface, and flying Balloonists who never land. If the story had been more about the interesting animals, I would have enjoyed the book better. I did not like any of the human characters. By the second hundred pages, I was already hoping they would all die. But of course they don't. People on Earth bomb each other to bits and the related factions on Jem almost follow suit, being stopped only by a natural disaster. The resulting civilization is an utopian parody; it reminds me of "Animal Farm". Everything is "freely given" or not given at all. The native sentients of Jem work for the humans because they can't do otherwise after their planet is subdued by humans. It's repulsive, but realistic, to imagine that humans would do no better with a new planet than they have with their first one, even after all their experience and knowledge. I prefer happier fantasies.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Antinomian on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the 1950's to the 70's, it seems that a number of science fiction writers published dual books considered essential reading for the field. There's Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination, Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, and then Frederik Pohl's Gateway and Man Plus. These novel's cannot be more highly recommended for those that enjoy reading science fiction. For those that enjoyed Pohl's other two mentioned novel's and want to read more by him, Jem would be next in line. It should be noted that this is the end of the line. After Man Plus (1976), Gateway (1977), Jem (1979), is The Blue Event Horizon (1980) which is sub-par and the novels after that, Sunburst, The Cool War, go downhill from there. It's difficult to be tough on Pohl here because Gateway is perhaps my all time favorite novel. Jem is still within Pohl's sphere of his Gateway peak and has enjoyable parts.

The novel consists of trinities. There are the three Bloc's on earth: the Food Bloc, the Fuel Bloc, and the People Bloc, derisively called by each other as the Fats, the Greasies, and the Peep's, respectively. These Bloc's have some unlikely constituents. The Food Bloc for instance consists of the United States, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union. England is the enemy as it is within the Fuel Bloc. If it takes a moment to consider why England would be, it was due to their North Atlantic oil fields. I don't know how productive these oil fields are today, but this was written back in the 70's. And the People Bloc consists of what can be expected: countries like China and Pakistan. Pohl doesn't completely ignore real world politics as China has political pull within other Blocs.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Zachary Jones on October 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Pohl is a much acclaimed writer...but I think much this acclamation is due to his incredible amount of creativity. This is a pretty good book, though I could never get my hands around if it's record of events (as a possible future for our world) is a triumph or a tragedy. The conclusion is almost poignant, but to me it was more bittersweet than anything else: the human race had survived through a major catastrophy (if that's what you want to call it), but what emerged, to me, seemed less than human.

I thought he did an excellent job of weaving politics and ambition with dreamy ideals. Their inherent conflict is very vividly played out. But, for me, the story really dragged in some places. I guess I like more adventure and less political intrigue and manipulation.

Interestingly enough, Pohl never seemed to engage a huge issue which emerged within this story: that of the morality of mankind taking over an alien planet, subjecting that planet and its inhabitants to man's designs and, in effect, destroying all that planet could have been through the normal course of development of the native lifeforms. Is it right for man to take over a planet just because he can? His answer to this seems to justify the enslaving of the native alien life - a stance I'm more than a little uncomfortable with.

Overall, I have a hard time suggesting this to anyone. I was dredging the bottom of my "unread" pile when I picked it up. I'd suggest to anyone that they should hold on to this book as a last resort, something to read when you've already exhausted all other resources.
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