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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wild Soup of Sprouts, Genius, and Astrology
A long, long time ago when the world was young and Anthony was a fresh new face in the science fiction world, he blessed us with works of power, incredible imagination, great originality, depth and meaning. This is one of those very early works, and by some measures it may be his best, or very nearly so, standing with his Chthon and Orn as a seminal work that introduced...
Published on March 25, 2002 by Patrick Shepherd

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Macroscope on Kindle Turns Blind Eye to Format and Spelling
A great book (worth 5 stars easily) is totally ruined by the formatting mistakes (or rather, lack of formatting) and the amazing number of misspelled words in it (thus the one star rating). Apparently, it was done by someone who doesn't know how to read or how to format sentences or paragraphs. Extremely disappointing. I hope Piers lays into whoever did this.
Published on September 15, 2011 by Amazon Customer


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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wild Soup of Sprouts, Genius, and Astrology, March 25, 2002
This review is from: Macroscope (Mass Market Paperback)
A long, long time ago when the world was young and Anthony was a fresh new face in the science fiction world, he blessed us with works of power, incredible imagination, great originality, depth and meaning. This is one of those very early works, and by some measures it may be his best, or very nearly so, standing with his Chthon and Orn as a seminal work that introduced ideas that are still fresh and very different from the standard run-of-the-mill stuff of both then and today.

The main idea behind this novel is the macroscope itself, an instrument that focuses a new particle and allows the user to effectively look anywhere and anytime at people, places, and events. Clearly this has an implication of being usable as a 'spy' scope, where everyone's most private actions can be discerned. It is this use that gets the scope dubbed as the 'Pooper Scooper' and leads to political machinations for control of its use. But the scientists running the scope have also stumbled across messages encoded within the particle stream, messages sent by alien civilizations for unclear purposes and which when viewed leave the viewer with a burnt out mind. Into this hardware scenario Anthony sends a very enigmatic individual, one Ivo Archer, (note that name choices are important here), an apparently normal person who happens to have some very wild, super-genius level talents in certain very restricted areas, to help determine what these messages are and why they are so destructive. But Ivo is more than he seems to be, and as we follow the story as it progresses from Earth bound considerations to a galactic encyclopedia to interstellar war with some truly different alien life forms all the way to the fate of universe and folding other ideas into the mix, such as astrology as a true science, the reader is treated to an incredible trip through the minds of more than one genius.

Anthony's characterization of these geniuses is very well done, and gives great insight into the thought processes and emotional characteristics of these exceptional people. On top of that, he buries a character mystery inside the main story, a question of just who is the legendary Schon, a supposed super-genius with absolutely no conscience, and how such a person is molded by his compatriots and environment. The psychological insights displayed here form a prime sub-text underneath the fantastic action of the story, and elevate this work well beyond a simple adventure novel.

In most of his early works, Anthony showed a predilection for playing with mathematical ideas rather than physics concepts, and this work is no exception, introducing the game of sprouts, an apparently simple pencil and paper game that the reader will find is actually a fiendishly complicated foray into the world of 'rubber-band' mapping (topology), neatly folded into and enhancing the main story line.

This work was nominated for the 1970 Hugo Award. Unfortunately, it was up against both Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness and Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five that year, two other truly great works in the SF world. But it is more than worth the effort to find and read this incomprehensibly out-of-print book of fantastic ideas, high adventure, and great character, which I have kept on my top 50 list of best all-time science fiction works ever since I first read it.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem that should be reprinted, May 3, 2000
By 
This review is from: Macroscope (Mass Market Paperback)
Long before Piers Anthony wrote his successful fantasy novels he penned "Macroscope"- one of the most imaginative and original science fiction novels ever written. The characterizations may be a bit weak, and the dialogue a bit wooden at times, but the ideas, and the scope of the novel boirder on the breathtaking.
Imagine: A huge instrument is set up in Earth orbit that has the ability to view a recently discovered particle that lets it peer anywhere in space- not only in the present, but in the past as well. What started as a research instrument has been revealed as the ultimate spy satellite. This alone makes it a political hot potato, as different factions fight over control of the scope .
Unknown to the governments on earth fighting over the scope, the researchers on board have discovered that other civilizations are broadcasting information viewable by the scope, if you're smart enogh to figure out the code. But there's a catch: Everyone of the brilliant scientists who has thus tried to read the signal has ended up dead or brain damaged. The last man to try sent for a childhood friend before the attempt that left him in a vegetative state. What's odd is the friend he sent for isn't a genius like the others; he's downright dull, by all appearances.
Affairs come to a crisis when a powerful and very intelligent Senator demands access to the scope- and is killed by it. Faced with the seizure of the scope by the military, the researchers on board cut it loose and flee into space.
That's just the first chapter. What follows is one of the most original and imaginative novels in SciFi. I first read it back in high school, in 1970; it's still fresh today.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic, December 8, 2004
By 
GLT "GLT" (Warrenton, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Macroscope (Mass Market Paperback)
I am rereading this book after a number of years, having first read it some time in the mid 1970's. Again I find that it is one of those books that changes how one thinks about things, and a work that can be appreciated on multiple levels.

First, it can change one's view of what's possible within the genre of science fiction. It impressively weaves a tapestry from such diverse threads as music, mathematics, classic American literature, philosophy, psychology, and sheer imagination, just to name a few. To a degree I've seldom seen equaled, the combination of these elements after all these years still create in me a sense of wonder at the grandness and richness of Creation. Anthony's work here is truly a microcosmic reflection of the very universe of which he writes.

That leads into something else I've kept noticing on this re-reading. I've been constantly struck by way the story suggests the interrelationship of things ranging from tiny (like the macron particle) to immense (like the universe); and by the synergy possible between people with diverse and seemingly disparate gifts. Ranging from the "ordinary" Beatrix to the "super-genius" Schön, each of the central characters is vital to the story, though each stands out as truly individual. The plot shows each of these characters as vital to the group's success, despite what appear to be huge differences in intellectual or personal development.

The "hard" science fiction elements at first glance today might appear a bit dated, given a nomenclature that dates from the late 1960's. But then hard science and technology are not really central themes of this novel. These elements of the story are for me a necessary "window dressing" arrayed around more central themes like personal responsibility, the grandness of the Universe, and interpersonal dynamics. In that respect it's easy to overlook the book's roots in the technology of the 1960's.

When I first read _Macroscope_ I was somewhere around late college age. At the time it read for me more like a hard science fiction adventure story. I didn't pay much attention to characterization or to themes that aren't traditional in hard scicne fiction. After all, I wasn't looking for those things at that age.

Quite a few years later, probably in the mid-1980's, I read it again. This time I was amazed to find so much else in the book. One element I picked up on that I'd completely glossed over before was the poetry of Sidney Lanier, from the American Civil War era. I borrowed a library book with several of his major works and found myself enraptured. Strange that in high school American Lit. I'd thought his _Song of the Chattahoochee_ was dull or even silly. Anthony's use of Lanier's verse drew me into the novel to a much greater extent than before. I found myself with an emotional bond for and insight into the character Ivo, in whose psychological landscape Lanier is central.

Upon this latest re-reading I've been more struck by the way the story evokes what I'll call unities. There is a sense that all the universe is connected, from tiniest subparticle, up through the sentient individual, right to the scale of Creation as a whole.

I'm still in a bit of suspense. It's been so long since I read the book that I don't recall the denouement. If I remember once I've finished it, I'll revisit this review to add a few more remarks.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Macroscope on Kindle Turns Blind Eye to Format and Spelling, September 15, 2011
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This review is from: Macroscope (Kindle Edition)
A great book (worth 5 stars easily) is totally ruined by the formatting mistakes (or rather, lack of formatting) and the amazing number of misspelled words in it (thus the one star rating). Apparently, it was done by someone who doesn't know how to read or how to format sentences or paragraphs. Extremely disappointing. I hope Piers lays into whoever did this.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, Really Bad Transfer to Kindle, April 28, 2011
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This review is from: Macroscope (Kindle Edition)
I'm very disappointed in the conversion from text to Kindle for this novel. Obviously, some kind of Text Reading software was used because words were split and paragraphs were misaligned and truncated.

Piers Anthony deserves better than this! And we deserve better, considering the price of this Kindle edition is more than many of us paid for the original paperback.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this to understand why so many consider anthony a hack, March 17, 2002
By 
This review is from: Macroscope (Mass Market Paperback)
A few weeks ago during some sick time I read one of the more recent Xanth novels. It made me question why I used to read everything Anthony came out with. He is just bad, bland, and childish. Trying to understand why I used to love his work, I did a bit of internet research and found him constently listed as worst hack alive. Well, as bad as those Xanth books have gotten they would be just run of the mill to an author who didn't have Macroscope in him. It isn't that he is so bad, it is just that he is giving us THAT, when he is capable of THIS. I don't blame him for wanting to write things that will sell tons of copies to 13 year old girls, money is money, but how I wish, now that his bank-roll is secure, he would give some of us the benifit of the brilliance he has so long surpressed.
I wont go in to details about the plot, as I have seen many others here already have. I will say, however, that his characters in this book posses of level of development unseen in his current works. The dialog is much better, crediting the reader with the intelligence to infer meaning rather than having is spelled as if we were ALL 13 yaar old girls. He does not rely on excessive sexual innuendo to hold the readers attention ( neither childish as in Xanth where everyone wants to peek up skirts, sadistic as in Cathon, imaginitive as in the CLuster series, or disturbing as in Firefly ( where he tries to convince us that having sex with a pre-schooler is okay if she asks for it)). IN summation, this book has all the elements of great sciecne fiction without the literary (?) tricks he relies on today.
It is one of my favorites, but stay away from it if you like the stuff he writes today or you will never be satisfied again.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The psychology of genius, September 11, 2005
This review is from: Macroscope (Paperback)
This is a haunting novel in some ways. Anthony manages to spin a thread that runs from the sleepy, dreamy southern poetry of Sidney Lanier all the way to the deep past of our galaxy. The hard science is satisfying and mostly believable, but one of the real draws of this book is Anthony's portrayal of human genius - the human failings of Schon, his childishness, his absolute intolerance for boredom, his inhuman brilliance - all this from a character who almost isn't even really there.

In some ways, Schon was picked to be the ambassador for the human race; the smartest human ever born, called into service by other geniuses to try to solve a puzzle that was literally burning their brains. The way Schon appears, and the way he begins to play with the humans who called him in addition to (maybe) taking on the task he was called for has always reminded me of one of those rituals where the devil gets called to do something for someone. The task gets done, but a sacrifice is always called for.

I think Schon is one of my favorite SciFi characters of all time, and that's strange, because he isn't even likable in any way.

This is really a must-read. You'll need to get past some dated race-related issues, occasional bad dialog - but only occasional. For the most part this is very smartly written, and Anthony seems to be masterful with subtext, and even imagery. The scene in the beginning, where Ivo imagines the parking meters to be match heads, slowly igniting one by one in the sun - I don't get that kinda stuff much from a lot of SciFi. Makes me wonder what happened to this author. Drugs? Disinterest? Maybe it was one of those things, kinda like holding a bad face too long, where he allowed himself to write poorly to sell some books, and then found he couldn't go back even if he tried.

Too bad for him - and us.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the name of the author fool you: this is Sci-Fi's most underrated novel!, August 20, 2007
This review is from: Macroscope (Paperback)
The best Sci-Fi: where the characters and story outshine the gadget!!!

Don't let the name of the author put you off; this is science fiction at its finest! Also, it's Anthony at HIS finest: no painful silliness, no adolescent humor, just a thoughtful story lead by a real character.

And don't let the title fool you: after the first thirty pages, the 'macroscope' gadget is effectively forgotten, except as a handy plot development device--but that's a sign of a great story!

Ivo is to my mind one of the most fascinating characters in all sci-fi literature, and he meets his match in one of sci-fi's most interesting interstellar puzzles.

The only downer is that the ending is rather vague and unsatisfying, but the rest of the book is so riveting, it really makes up for it. I can't think of another book that I could say that for.

If you really want to think, and have fun doing it, this is the book for you.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fellow readers, find this book., November 30, 2002
By A Customer
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This review is from: Macroscope (Mass Market Paperback)
Macroscope is one of those books that has insinuated its tendrils through my core being, occasionally poking to the surface to prod me in ways only my past adolescence could understand. More than twenty five years later I still recall the intensity of the experience, the impact of the story, the depth of the emotion.
I seek to revisit the book, although alas I realize the experience will pale in comparison to when I read it last as a starry-eyed impressionable teen. I do not seek to belittle the teen years. On the contrary, our very being is molded by those early experiences and in no small part by the books we read then. Macroscope has stuck with me like few other titles.
I have to concur with what others have posted. If you've ever read one of Piers Anthony's more recent works (by more recent, I mean post Orn series), then you owe it to yourself to read this early masterpiece. Like bob20799 suggests, I too wish Piers Anthony would return to writing with that skill evinced in his early novels, before it gets too late as in Isaac Asimov's case. It seems as though Isaac Asimov's more recent works aren't even penned by his own hand. Alas...
So go to the Used Racks, the Library, e-bay. Find this book, and read it.
While you're there, find one of these books too: The Mote in God's Eye, Across a Billion Years, the Foundation series, Anthony's own Orn series, Battlefield Earth (another tremendous early work by an author not really known for his pure Sci Fi roots), Lucifer's Hammer (yet another great collaboration by Niven/Pournelle), or The White Mountains trilogy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version Not Recommended, January 25, 2012
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This review is from: Macroscope (Kindle Edition)
This is a great story. However, the Kindle ver sion is full of split words, usually sev eral per page. The for matting makes the story nigh unread
able.
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Macroscope
Macroscope by Piers Anthony (Mass Market Paperback - June 1983)
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