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The Revolutions: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 1, 2014

3.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Gilman's interplanetary adventure, occult thriller, and all-round ripping yarn follows the struggles of a young Victorian couple in the grip of dastardly intrigue...A remarkable, hugely enjoyable performance."―Publishers Weekly

"Gilman's descriptive powers are as economical as they are vivid, beautifully capturing the spirit of fin de siècle society."―NPR

About the Author

FELIX GILMAN has been nominated for the John W. Campbell award and the Locus Award for best new writer. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Thunderer, Gears of the City, and The Half-Made World, which was listed by Amazon as one of the ten best SF/F novels of 2010. He lives with his wife in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765337177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765337177
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Rarely have I read anything that opened so superbly as 'The Revolutions'. It was impressive with its fantastic, yet simultaneously authentic depictions of the Victorian fascination with all things occult, the peculiar events Arthur is thrust into, and the romance between him and Josephine which very much showcased what a strong grasp on characterization the author started off with. This book begins as serious historical fiction - with a steampunk twist - reminiscent of Dickens in many veins. The circumstances of the story itself may be off the beaten track, but the descriptions, events and players were so well drawn as to exceed my wildest expectations.

After the incident with Josephine, however, it devolved so rapidly, I had to convince myself I was not dreaming, and that the book had actually switched to a Martian setting, where we follow one of the characters who has become stranded on the Red Planet and sift through pages of exposition regarding her experiences therein. All the same, I would gladly have allotted this five stars - and then some - even after it began falling to pieces, as there were still plenty of scenes that made the read worthwhile, that gave glimpses of how outstanding a story it began as.

Alas, this was a truly excellent novel irrevocably ruined as it derailed further and further off of what it had been and devolved into something that had no place in this book, not after nearly two hundred pages of setting up the events taking place in London. It not only destroyed the atmosphere so grandiosely achieved, but made the character of Arthur seem inconsistent. The writing was captivating, the characters were fantastic; I had been completely drawn into this world only for the author himself to pluck me out of this wondrous version of London.
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The London Great Storm of 1893 has brought "a gret disruption among the Spheres". Felix Gilman's previous works are marked by his exquisite ability to build worlds that submerge the reader in alternative reality. This book is no different, but it happens to be set in an alternate London. This book is literate, witty, and ever so slightly funky. It is full of the the esoteric manipulations and observations of the revolution of the spheres. The spheres are the planets as we know them, but are in fact perfect balls of aether in this philosophy. Little details all fit together rather brilliantly, and the prose is a delight to the mental ear.

Arthur is a refreshingly overweight young man who has rather found himself at a point of general failure on the night of the Great Storm. He tells himself he simply fancies his sense of a greater shift as he sits in his chair in the National Library. As he walks home, he blunders into a familiar store and meets Josephine, the love of his life. Josephine types manuscripts for the esoteric members of London society. At a seance, they both meet the slightly sinister Atwood who sweeps them both into the search for the Spheres.

Somehow Gilman transfers the most mundane setting into fantasy. Arthur s hired to do endless operations in tiny print which then are to be transcribed into the Machine. The Machine feels like the attempts at a precursor of a computer, but it is nothing so plain. The scene of the job is rendered into a steam punk dream with mysterious co- workers, odd gears and crushing mental loads that appear from seemingly nowhere. Elsewhere, Josephine is lost to this world in a trip of astral projection, but this one is not like anything I have read in fiction to this point.
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By Annon on April 14, 2014
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Reminds me of Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Stephanie Clarke. Weird and interesting. Would make a good movie. The only slight issue I have with the book is that the ending is slightly abrupt and doesn't tie up a couple loose ends, but that's life. We don't always end up with all the answers we seek, and that's kind of what this book is about.
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This book really had a lot going for it, the setting was really engrossing, the main character was adorable, if a bit flat, and it throws fun ideas out at you left and right. This is the sort of book that influences all your thoughts as you are reading it, bits of victorian occultism and martian life getting mixed into my internal monologue.

In terms of what it lacked, coherence. The author tries to add a bit of grandeur to what is essentially a rather small story and ends up with characters who don't really matter. Ideas are often floated, made tantalizing and then never fully explored. Finally, the end of the book really let me down, some characters were just not given the ends they deserved, and really became flat in the last 50 pages or so.

This has been a slow reading year for me, and this was the perfect book to help me pick my Kindle back up, it grabbed me completely, and had me thinking about it every minute of the day when I wsn't reading it. I just wish there had been a tiny bit more to think about while reading it.
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I've loved Gilman's earlier pieces, and have to admit I was all set to be a little disappointed that he ventured away from the world of the Line and the Gun, but my doubts seemed foolish after reading the finished work. The Revolutions plays out in a Victorian London of magic and mystery that reminded me vaguely of China Mieville's modern London from Kraken - the setting richly alien yet comfortably familiar. The mysticism and secrecy feels very authentic to the period and is a joy to read.
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