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Yarn Paperback – December 1, 2010
A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
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About the Author
Jon Armstrong is a speculative fiction writer. His first novel, Grey, was published in 2007 and was short-listed for the Philip K Dick Award. That same year, Jon was also nominated for the Campbell Award for Best New SF Writer.
More About the Author
In 1986, after finishing a Liberal Arts degree at the University of Pittsburgh, he moved to New York and worked at a Japanese travel agency for several years and later had a short stint with Pan Am before the airline went bankrupt. Subsequently, he became a temp and gradually taught himself graphic design. As a graphic designer, he worked for such companies as United Media, Young & Rubicam, Archie Comics, HBO, and many others.
Jon hosts a bi-weekly mostly interview podcast called, If You're Just Joining Us. While most interviews have been with authors, other guests have included a nutritional anthropologist, a textile scientist, and a classical musician.
He currently lives in Queens, New York with his wonderful wife and child.
Top Customer Reviews
Like in most good stories it involves a woman. In this case an ex-lover who is on the run from the authorities when she comes to Tane late one night. "Where have you been? What happened? What are you wearing?" are his first questions because that is the kind of man he is. She tells him she is dying and asks him of a favor. She wants him to make her a garment of the illegal psychedelic Xi yarn to ease her last hours. He accepts before she disappears again and the rest of the book tells the story of how he goes about tracking down and acquiring the yarn to fulfill her last wish. The author portions out key pieces of Tane's past from his youth in the slums to yarn-thief to lover to fashion genius that ties in to and explains what is happening in the main story line. That worked very well for me here.
The story contains delightful black humor and Tane Cedar is an interesting character with an inner dignity to him throughout all his ordeals that makes him easy to love. The other characters are more superficial but there are some really interesting ones like Brunne the fashion dictator of Seattlehama, Vada his ex-lover revolutionary and a few more.
The world building is on par with the story and the characters. "Seattlehama: the volcano-powered sex and shopping capital of the world" is the name of a chapter and a good description of the setting.Read more ›
It was the cover-art of this book that *really* grabbed me. I kept going back to where it was displayed at a FOGcon dealer table, and in the end decided to judge the book by its cover.
The world-building was brilliant. I loved the Japanese cast to the whole thing, and using Fashion as the guiding principle of society was intriguing and unique. The descriptions were wonderfully evocative.
There was some kind of mismatch between the plot and the place and pace. I felt the story wanted to be about the plot, but it kept getting overwhelmed by the world-building. The use of language, though inventive and apt, still required more effort than I wanted to make... there was perhaps a little too much of it? Like a brocade that's so densely figured that it detracts from all the other characteristics of the fabric. The continuing talk about the fabrics didn't feel "insider" so much as "swallowed a textile encyclopedia." It was difficult to get involved enough to care; I remained a distant spectator, even though I liked the protagonist.
That said, it also feels like one of those books where once you've understood the world, it's easier going. So I may well decide to read the sequel some time, and may enjoy it more.
This book was *very* visual. I can see movie rights in its future. And maybe a graphic novel if there isn't one already.
Yarn takes place in the same Fashion-fueled dystopia of Grey. Or is that Fascion? The casual melding of totalitarian cruelty and high couture, with no moral distinction, is part of what makes his world so bitterly funny and so compelling.
The sentences this man writes can inspire me for weeks. "I am the corporate fashion slut of my dreams!" is one early example. Retail Warriors speak in "WarTalk" that is like Calvin Klein perfume ad copy as written by Joseph Conrad. There really is nothing quite like Yarn and Grey that I've found, and spending time in Mr. Armstrong's carefully and thoroughly-wrought world is as luxurious as fine cashmere kissing milk-white skin.
A few minor quibbles: Mr. Armstrong appears to be sinking comfortably into a slot known as 'speculative sci fi.' I don't know what that means, only that the parts of the book that sagged for me where the parts where I was most aware of the author trying to fit into a 'genre' (when the book took itself seriously as a sci-fi thriller/mystery mostly). I don't know if that is author or publisher driven, but I'd say go with your gut Mr. Armstrong and write what you want, the stranger the better--risk the messy plot and keep the WarTalk coming. Good writing is good writing, don't focus on the sci fi / fantasy labels, defy and transcend them.
Immediately after reading Yarn, I got Gary Shteyngart's "Super Sad True Love Story" on my kindle. Ironically, another near-future dystopian fiction. My review of that novel can be summed up as: 'meh.Read more ›
However, I got a grip on myself, finished reading the story, and enjoyed the amazing storytelling. I will say I personally spent the most time marveling over the machines Jon invented, trying to imagine how they worked.
The detailing in Yarn will blow you away. Forget what you think you know and let Jon lead you into his universe.
You can listen to Jon's first book, Grey, at Podiobooks.com for an introduction to his storytelling ability. Check out his podcast, If You're Just Joining Us, for the interview where Jon talked to the cover artist. It was great.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was quircky science fiction and I loved it. A universe where entire societies are based on clothing. Read morePublished 24 months ago by techspider
I like how in this book the hero isn't a mercernary or a cop or a super-hacker, just a farm boy come to the city with an interest in fashion. Read morePublished on February 14, 2013 by Miles E. Keogh
Fascinating until the end. Then what is done in the back story is the exact opposite of what would make the current story likely. Read morePublished on May 5, 2011 by D. Lucas