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Out on Blue Six Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1989

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Spectra; First Edition edition (April 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553277634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553277630
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,195,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Glen Engel Cox on September 12, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After my review of McDonald's short story collection, Speaking in Tongues, several people, among them Michael Sumbera, recommended to me what they felt was McDonald's best novel, Out on Blue Six. There was also some attention focused on the novel on rec.arts.sf.written, because of its similarity to Terry Gilliam's "Brazil." The comparison is not misplaced, although McDonald has a different agenda than Gilliam. Both stories feature a huge government that relegates people's lives, in which a small mistake can wreak human lives. That is, both stories are satires on present governments and governmental ideas. But whereas Gilliam plays the satire to the hilt, and goes beyond simple governmental poking, but also poking at individuals within it, ultimately ending on an extremely cynical note, McDonald still feels there's hope to be had. Out on Blue Six is an extremely pyrotechnic novel, full of unknown words and weirdly impossible SF ideas; again, like Snow Crash, this isn't a hard SF novel, but rather a novel of adventure and philosophy. Stephenson pulls it off slightly better, mainly because he isn't concerned with wrapping things up in a denoument, which McDonald does with his story.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

Courtney Hall is a cartoonist because that’s the job she’s been assigned by the tyrannical government agencies that dictate all of the details of everyone’s life — where they live, who their friends are, who they marry, what job they do. The goal of the government, which consists of such agencies as the Ministry of Pain, the Compassionate Society, and the Love Police, is to analyze every citizen’s genes and personality so that they can be assigned to the lifestyle that will minimize their pain and maximize their happiness, thus creating a populace that is obedient and compliant. The government assures that its dictates are adhered to by monitoring all activity and censoring criticism.

Most people seem content in the Compassionate Society because they like being pain-free, doing a job that they love (even if they’re not good at it) and being married to people who they’re compatible with (even if they don’t love them). But some people, including Courtney Hall, think there must be something more to life than avoiding pain and conflict. If she voices her opinions, or opposes the government’s decisions for her, she’ll be called in for reprogramming and have her mind wiped. When Courtney creates a satirical comic and finds herself on the run, she discovers a group of dissidents living under the city and joins their fight for freedom.

So far Out on Blue Six sounds like a typical dystopian novel. You’re probably expecting something like Nineteen Eighty-Four or Fahrenheit 451 but, to stick with the number-in-the-title theme, Out on Blue Six has more in common with Slaughterhouse-Five than either of those dystopias. It’s bizarre. Really bizarre. In fact, it feels much more like something Philip K.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
With great whimsical elements, you're taken on a wild and woolly ride with the main character on a journey of maturation - both for her, and for the society she lives in. Forced out of her off-the-shelf life by circumstance, she comes to appreciate the freedom of living her own life and by taking responsibility not only for it but also by acknowledging she has responsibility to the society she lives in, she utterly transforms it and becomes both a master of her self and that society.

Fabulously entertaining both as story and as allegory!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been looking forward to early work of Ian McDonald reaching the Kindle. This work certainly did not disappoint. This work is a study of a future where our machines have come to care for us, shape society and generally do everything possible to keep unhappiness at bay and original thought limited. Occasionally the machines check on their progress, wanting to move onto other, more worthy pastimes. The time period covered is during one such time and involves a cast of characters that M. McDonald does so well.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ian McDonald, as usual, comes up with a fascinating idea for a novel and manages, with a few pitfalls, to write a wonderful book utilizing it. Featuring an ensemble cast, Out On Blue Six traces the adventures of several dispirit groups through the canopy and subterranean levels of a self-contained futuristic city.

The dis/utopian nature of the society reads somewhat like an optimistic version of Brazil, or a function version of the Paranoia games. Avoiding pain is the highest priority of the computers that run the society, so people are told what is best for them with no ability to argue. A few vignettes in the novel focus on this, but a great deal more is focused on the edges of the society.

The one downside to this book is the treatment of the ensemble. My favorite character, a Yulp comic artist, who starts the book, seems to fade into the background as characters with stronger survival skills are introduced. Other than this small issue, the book is a truly fantastic piece of work. It's a shame that it's out of print, but it still is readily available and worth a read.
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