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Stamping Butterflies Paperback – August 29, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Grimwood stumbles in this ambitious SF stand-alone, which falls short of the high mark set by his Arabesk trilogy (Pashazade, etc.), hard-boiled mysteries set in a near-future where the Ottoman Empire still exists. Grimwood alternates between the present-day efforts of an assassin to kill the U.S. president and a more cryptic future story line set aboard a Chinese spaceship. While the two plots eventually converge in a way most time-travel fans will have anticipated, the whole proves to be less than the sum of its parts. The action can become confusing and the language overblown. As usual, though, the author displays much cunning and wit as he grapples seriously with political themes. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Grimwood's Arabesk trilogy (Pashazade, 2001; Effendi, 2002; Felaheen, 2003) blended William Gibson-esque cyberpunk, alternate history, and hard-boiled detective elements. His new novel straddles the line between political intrigue and futuristic sf. It's the story of a lone gunman whose failure to assassinate the U.S. president opens a Pandora's box of mysteries. The novel explores the would-be assassin's life by leaping backward and forward in time, from his upbringing on the streets of Marrakech to more than 4,000 years hence, when he wields great tendrils of influence on a system of worlds ruled by a Chinese emperor. Prisoner Zero (so dubbed because he chooses to remain mute after arrest) is either a madman or an undiscovered genius whose cell-wall scribblings may contain the formula to humanity's first warp drive. Grimwood skillfully weaves Moroccan and Far Eastern culture in an inventive, philosophically resonant story line that keeps the reader guessing about Prisoner Zero until the final pages. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553383779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553383775
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #536,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on January 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is one of those novels that some would call brilliant and others would call pretentious. The previous (real) reviewers here are leaning to the latter criticism, and they do have a point because Grimwood's writing is often maddeningly obtuse and convoluted. While reading the book myself I swung wildly between the two camps, often marveling in the power of Grimwood's creativity and insight, only to have my enjoyment derailed again and again by deliberate vagueness and unnecessarily convoluted plot structures. Therefore my declaration is "almost brilliant" or "has potential." One has to wonder if Grimwood writes for readers or for other writers, because he's very high on craft but often lacking in basic readability. This novel is inherently fascinating, somehow connecting 1970s Morocco with a very unique Chinese planetary empire thousands of years in the future, binding them together via a weird present-day creative genius and an intriguing cosmic force that oversees the human condition and its history. The mood of the novel is dark and compelling, and you're likely to stay interested, but Grimwood's refusal to usefully outline his most fantastical ideas can be quite unsatisfying for the reader. There's something to be said for a writing style that remains purposefully obtuse in order to kick-start the reader's imagination, but that only works partially here. For fascinating modern science fiction with a cerebral twist, this book and the other works of Grimwood are certainly worth checking out, but they may only find total success with readers of a certain mindset. [~doomsdayer520~]
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mikko Saari on August 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book has three different layers that eventually merge together, however unlikely that seems. First, in the contemporary timeline there's the most-liked US president in the history and the strange Prisoner Zero who tries to assassinate him and after capture doesn't say a word. Then there's the Marrakech of 1970s with Moz and Malika and their messd-up lives. Third, there's the mystic Emperor watched by his 148 billion citizens, waiting for an assassin to arrive.

So yes, it's a strange book. All three storylines didn't work as well for me; I liked the Marrakech, but didn't like the Emperor too much. Then again, I read someone else commenting exactly the opposite, so your mileage may vary. Some of it will get boring before the end, but the final twists make enough sense to make it all worth reading, I suppose. However, there's quite a bit of - perhaps unnecessary - graphic violence, torture and sex; some might find that unpleasant.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
In Paris, a vagrant reads in a paper he picks up that the President of the United States Gene Newman will soon visit Marrakech; he decides on the spot to assassinate the American leader. Shockingly the tramp almost succeeds, but is detained by American anti-terrorist agents, who incarcerate Prisoner Zero on a tiny Mediterranean Sea rock. Needing to know who he is working for and who trained him. The espionage crowd assumes Prisoner Zero is the best with his vagabond outfit seeming so real yet a cover. However, the constant torturous interrogation produces nothing from Prisoner Zero. Meanwhile as the tramp ignores and annoys the spies and other VIPs visiting him, he speaks telepathically with the "Darkness" until Zero using bodily droppings writes a ground breaking series of mathematical equations on the application of zero-point energy.

Back in 1969 in Marrakech, street urchin Moz is infected by an intelligence embellishing parasite that finds a place inside his brain. The Moroccan police direct Miz to befriend rock-star and mathematician Jake Razor as they assume the outsider is a spy; the lad succeeds becoming a pal of Jake.

Finally five millenniums into the future a sole survivor of a Chinese spaceship is saved by an alien. This leads to an interstellar Chinese Empire whose fifty-third ruler Emperor Zaq dreams of Prisoner Zero and the "Darkness" that he calls the "Library".

This is a complex cerebral science fiction that grips the appreciative audience wondering where Jon Grimwood is taking us. The story line rotates perspective between the three subplots before tying together it into a fascinating Moebius Ring that is further twisted and cut into a Paradromic Ring. Fans preferring a linear tale need to pass the convoluted entertaining STAMPING BUTTERFLIES.

Harriet Klausner
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By finisterre on September 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
the first half was okay, the second dull. Well written, plaited plot, nobody to engage with and nothing to care about. Probably his worst book. I have read all the others and they all worked much better. It felt like three novellas that hadn't quite made it so he pasted them together. I am not saying don't buy it, it still rates as okay, but don't expect another end of the world blues.
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