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The Child Garden: A Low Comedy Paperback – May 24, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A future city afflicted with a viral epidemic is the setting of Ryman's acclaimed novel; winner of the John W. Cambell and Arthur C. Clarke Awards.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Excellent...Dark and witty and full of love, closely observed, and sprinkled with astonishing ideas. Science fiction of a very high order."--Greg Bear

"A richly absorbing tale--with a marvelous premise expertly carried out."--Kirkus Reviews

"One of the most imaginative accounts of futuristic bioengineering since Geg Bear's Blood Music."--Locus

"A heady novel bursting with speculation."--Library Journal

"An exuberant celebration of excess set in a resource-poor but defiantly eneregtic 21st century...you will not be bored."--The New York Times
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Small Beer Press; Reprint edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931520283
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931520287
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,354,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Geoff Ryman is a Canadian living in the United Kingdom. His first book based on events in Cambodia was published in 1985, the award-winning The Unconquered Country. The King's Last Song was inspired by a visit to an Australian archaeological dig at Angkor Wat in 2000. He has been a regular visitor since, teaching writing workshops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap twice, and publishing three further novellas set in Cambodia. In Britain he produced documentaries for Resonance FM, London, on Cambodian Arts. He has published nine other books and won fourteen awards. He teaches creative writing at the University of Manchester.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a truly wonderful book, that deserves a lot more attention than it got. Ryman has an incredible range, a gift for characterization, and has mastered the art for precise observation that he can nevertheless make iconic. This book is very ambitious - and he gets away with it. He weaves together Marx, the theory of relativity, hologram productions of Dante, vampires, and genetic engineering - and it works. This is one of those books that I press into my friends' hands saying, "You have got to read this." Then I have to show up at their door to get it back because they love it so much that they don't want to give it back. If you like this book you should also read "Was," Ryman's book that tackles "The Wizard of Oz." He is a truly great modern writer.
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By A Customer on December 13, 1996
Format: Paperback
Like his brilliant "mainstream" novel "Was", "The Child Garden" is a novel that works on many levels, it leaves your mind reeling. Like Delany, LeGuin, and Crowley, Ryman is one of the masters of "serious" science fiction. This novels interweaves a lesbian coming out story with bio-engineering extrapolation in a future London. But the coming out story is just a springboard for ideas about the Self in Society, about alienation, memory, human connection. And Ryman somehow manages to weave consensus politics and the struggle of the artist into the bio-engineering theme. On top of this, the entire novel is about Art's healing powers. Through all this cerebral imagery, there are unforgettable characters, wit, and a whole lot of love. Few science fiction novels -- and novels about ideas in general -- can make one weep and think. This novel is the rare one that does both
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By A Customer on January 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
I've read this book four or five times, and I get something new out of it every times. Somehow Ryman manages to make the book engrossing and compelling, yet multi-layered and as complex as any book I've read. Ryman has created a truly original fantasy society - all too rare in science fiction - and he mixes innovative details about bio-engineering with ruminations on Dante and the nature of love. Amazingly rich.
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Format: Paperback
One of my favorite books ever in the world. I love it so much. I'll never get over it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very convoluted like the virus infected brains of the people of earth in this book. Almost a utopian, communist maifesto. I like it but am afraid I will have to read it again. He writes moving, interesting and unique descriptions of a world that has grown young and aimless; with everyone trying to recapture their youth and the dire consequences of manipulating our DNA. I wonder how he feels about GE food? Very thought provoking. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Child Garden, written in the midst of the initial AIDS onslaught, a book that has as its subtext the then-emerging field of viral genomics... which the author wrestles onto its shoulder with some weird linguistic jiu-jitsu for a two-point takedown, is not to be missed! Ryman's sense of pacing, at least in the book's first section, is brilliant. Unfortunately the work begins to falter afterwards; it's as if his fireworks go dark, and we are left with dry shavings where once magnesium burned so bright. The development falls apart, and the logical expression of consequences becomes boring, and if never particularly formulaic (Ryman is too clever by half), somewhat confusing.

Lots of fun ideas, too many not explored fully, some followed by the author to an end that baffles the reader (what happened, for example, to the Snide? Why is it important that Milena be Czech? And more that I won't bore you with). Lastly, the conclusion seems completely uncalled for by the book's opening chapters - I sensed that Ryman was writing in a hurry, that his pace of creation outsped his need to review. Why as much as four stars? Because although I was not satisfied with the work as a whole, much of the writing, as writing, was truly excellent.

The current edition is not helped by lazy proofreading: incomprehensible that any typos should exist. Did Ryman read the proofs? One would hope not! Nor would I advise reading Wendy Pearson's introduction - not at least until you have finished the book. Who cares what she thinks? Form your own conclusions before reading hers. After all, the book's an entertainment, and, regardless Pearson, not necessarily a commentary on the world of then, nor is it going to be particularly helpful for you to think it such.
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By A Customer on August 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Take your chances with this book. I didn't like it really. I bought it because it was an award winner. And though the details of the story were cool, it was too pretentious for me to get into. I give 2 stars for originality and being able to convey the fantastic in rich detail. But there was nothing underneath it to hold it together. I just have to voice this opinion - you will of course make your own decisions. But the Marxism and the opera and the flash-back-forward-around was not so much impressive as tedious.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Geoff Ryman is a genius! I have loved this book for years, and i cannot believe it was written so long ago.
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