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Souls in the Great Machine (Greatwinter Trilogy) Paperback – May 12, 2000
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Souls in the Great Machine is a big book at 450 pages. Stuffed fuller than a Thanksgiving turkey with great storylines, characters, and concepts, it's got thrilling action, hair's-breadth escapes, tyranny, treachery, villainy, heroism, duels, riots, war, love, hate, obsession, powerful women, mad monks, a returning ice age, a lost race, rediscovered civilizations, invasions, executions, high-tech, steampunk tech, a computer with human components, and numerous subplots. In short, Souls in the Great Machine is huge; it is epic--but it is not sprawling. In the hands of most authors, this complex and ambitious SF novel would be a trilogy. And while Souls may occasionally move a little too fast, the plot never drags and the reader's interest never flags. If you're looking for a sense of wonder, for adventure that respects your intelligence, for an enormously fun read--look no further than Souls in the Great Machine. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
In 2011 his novelette Eight Miles was runner up in the Hugo Awards, and he has won Poland's Nova Fantastyka for Voice of Steel and the Analog Reader's Award for Tower of Wings. His books, stories and articles have won another twelve awards in Australia.
His first internationally published novel was The Centurion's Empire, which featured a time machine built during the Roman Empire. This was followed by the Greatwinter trilogy, set in a post-apocalyptic Australia ruled by a caste of psychopathic librarians, and his four volume Moonworlds series, which saw McMullen use his unique blend of science and romance in a fantasy setting.
His most recent series is the Century War series for young adult readers. Set in 1901 Melbourne, Before the Storm has been reviewed as The Terminator meets the Bronte Sisters.
Sean's non-fiction work includes the non-fiction Strange Constellations, a history of Australian science fiction jointly written with Van Ikin and Russell Blackford. He also co-wrote the first histories of Australian fantasy and horror with Steven Paulsen.
Sean works full-time in scientific computing, and in what's left of his spare time, he is a third dan black belt in karate, and teaches at the Melbourne University Karate club. People have called him a renaissance man: the question is, which renaissance?
This biography was provided by the author or their representative.
Top Customer Reviews
Many years after a disaster called Greatwinter destroyed human civilization, people in what was once Australia live in smallish city states. Technology includes fairly ingenious mechanical devices, and guns, but no electricity or electronics. A central feature of local civilization is the libraries, where intelligent men and women seem to maintain what records of the past they can. The most important library, called Libris, is in Rochester, and a new leader, Zarvora Cybeline, has just been appointed. She establishes a curious project: a huge calculating machine, the Calculor, in which the individual components are human slaves. Add to this intriguing setup a culture which places great emphasis on personal combat -- duels. And one more odd feature -- a mysterious Call, to which every animal larger than a cat, including humans, is subject.
Into this mix Sean McMullen throws Lemorel, a young provincial woman and a talented mathematician, whose ambition has led her into several duels. She ends up at Libris, with many other talented mathematicians, supporting the Calculor. There is also Zarvora, the odd genius who has invented the Calculor, and who has some mysterious use for it besides simply improving communications and tax collection.Read more ›
This is an ambitious book and the first half of the story is well told as we follow the ruthless librarian Zevora's struggle to build her beamflash network and Calculator. The Calculator is a primitive computer where the "circuits" are actually people who have been pressed into service. The development of the beamflash system and Calculator mirror the modern development of the personal computer and internet and you do get the feeling that such as system could be built without electricity and silicon.
After this promising start, the novel begins to unravel. Characters are constantly bumping into each other by chance as they travel around the interior of Australia. The coincidental meetings become more and more annoying as credibility is stretched. Eventually, one of Zevora's lieutenants, Lemorel, breaks away from her service and rallies what amounts to a barbarian horde which she uses to attack the cities under Zevora's control. This is a major plot point and the fighting occupies much of the novel. Unfortunately, Lemorel's motivation for starting her rebellion is not convincing and she plunges an entire continent into war for little apparent reason other than the author wanted to have the war occur.
The ending of the book feels rushed as too many characters and plots are wrapped up very quickly.Read more ›
Big Idea One: Humanity in post-apocalyptic Australia is regularly beset by The Call, a strange siren call that makes everything larger then a small dog drawn to the south like lemmings are drawn to the sea.
Big Idea Two: Something is going on in outer space. Some sort of intelligence is building a structure in Earth orbit designed to reflect light away bringing on the next Greatwinter.
Big Idea Three: Despite a complete lack of technology, a huge computer is being designed and built. Not with circuit boards and transistors, but with kidnapped human beings armed with abacuses.
And there is a whole lot more that goes on. Human powered galley trains, networks of light towers transmitting coded messages across the continent, and so on.
But the focus is in this book is on the technology. Granted, it's cool technology, but after a while it really gets tiresome. By the time I was finished, I knew more then I ever wanted to know about post-apocalyptic trains. In fact, this story could have been call Souls Riding the Great Trains. Ultimately, I cared more about the machines in this book then the people.
And here is the big problem. The characters act in an illogical and inconsistent manner. The author suffers from a God complex. Need a war in the West? So-and-so will start one. Why did so-and-so do that? Because the author made them do it. The characters are not evil, they are written that way.
Once the characters start to careen off track, the story follows. What begins as compelling story-telling, ends as a train wreck of inconsistencies. Even the Big Ideas get wasted (the source of The Call is just plain stupid and disappointing). For me, this is not Book One in the Greatwinter Series, it's Book Only.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nice treatment of a post-apocalyptic society where librarians are armed and dangerous.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Absolutely loved this novel. It has whimsy, intrigue, horror, betrayal, and conflict on an ever rising scale. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Cody Hatfield
Disjointed, no cohesiveness, bland characters. I did my best, but dropped it after 200 pages. If you're going to make a statement, do it up front. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jewels
It is ~1500 years from the modern day in post-apocalypse Australia. Human civilization has recovered to some extent but several factors inhibit further development. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Steve King
Get the first book in the series and read them all.
I highly recommend this. Some of the best sci-fi I have read
with a very interesting primative high-tech twist. Read more
Somewhat foolishly, I read a number of reviews on this book before starting it. I did so despite knowing that I already wanted to read it, and that it had been on my reading list... Read morePublished on June 13, 2013 by Iain Mavro Coggins
Incomprehensible that such a cohesive, well-imagined, and consistently entertaining epic would rate anything lower than a five star here. Befuddled, I am.Published on June 6, 2013 by Richard W. Keeney
i thought this was a bag or caramel popcorn. it turned out to be a book. i would have preferred popcorn. or maybe some cinnamon candy. or a puppy. Read morePublished on May 22, 2013 by William Hirsch