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Sensation (Spectacular Fiction) Paperback – May 1, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The Majestic Plural, or Royal We, is well known—Sensation introduces the Arachnid Plural, the we of spiders, the ones that live inside you. The spiders care about you—deeply—and want to use you in a millennial war against certain parasitic wasps. No, I was wrong. The spiders only want to help. So let them in."  —Zachary Mason, New York Times-best-selling author, The Lost Books of the Odyssey

"Mamatas is a powerfully acerbic writer, both in fiction and online. His acid wit is infamous, and it is on splendid display in Sensation, which is alive with scornful insight about pop culture, the net, and politics. I recommend it highly." —Cory Doctorow, www.boingboing.net

"(A) self-consciously [post-modern] third novel. This accumulation of pop-culture babble, layered with thin insight and metatextual archness, is amusing enough in an epigrammatic way." —Publishers Weekly (June 22, 2011)

"Sensation, in many ways, does what all good science fiction aims to do: it offers a critique of the status quo. It depicts an alternative in order to highlight the problems in our reality." —www.htmlgiant.com

About the Author

Nick Mamatas is the author of the novels Move Under Ground and Under My Roof, as well as the short story collection You Might Sleep. His writing has been translated into German, Italian, and Greek, and he has been nominated for the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild Awards and the Kurd Lasswitz Prize. He is the coeditor of the online magazine Clarkesworld and his essays have appeared in the Clamor, In These Times, the New Humanist, the Smart Set, and the Village Voice. He lives in Oakland, California.

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Product Details

  • Series: Spectacular Fiction
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: PM Press (May 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604863544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604863543
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,781,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Bullington on May 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
The thing about Mamatas...you can't ever say he's done it again, no matter how many great books or short stories or essays he pens, because in doing so you'd run the risk of implying that he's repeating himself, which he isn't. No, what makes him such a vital voice in modern fiction is that he veers so wildly from project to project that you can't really predict his trajectory, but you're always sure he'll land somewhere interesting. He can be a smartass, but like the best of the weisenheimers there's way more of the smart than the ass. To which he'd probably have some choice rejoinder, but then that was a bit of a softball pitch.

The thing about Sensation...it's one hell of a novel. Genre conventions given the brainiac treatment, barbed pop and counter culture references aplenty, a style that's simultaneously inventive yet effortlessly accessible, and a healthy smattering of almost-too-clever-for-their-own-good gags all stewed up in Mamatas' vision of America, a place uncomfortably close enough to the real thing to make you check for webs over the bed before tucking down. Yes, but is it both fun *and* profound? Yeppers.

What's it about? You, me, the whole shebang--read the product description if you're the type who needs to know if there's a bone of SF under all the meaty stuff (spoiler alert: there is). The bottom line is that if you like your fiction sharp, quick, relevant, and refreshingly reckless, this is the fix. Yahbye.
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Format: Kindle Edition
At the risk of reviewing the author as much as the book: if you've followed the career, and perhaps more importantly, the widely varied interests of author Nick Mamatas (there's a reason some of his writings were collected as 3000 MPH In Every Direction At Once) for any substantial amount of time, you will find much that is familiar within Sensation, from Brattleboro to protest activism to virtual worlds to the Brood (just me? Fine, okay. This could easily have made this a hobo stew of a novel, but in fact Mamatas crafts a fully coherent and -- after its fashion -- plausible story so immediately prescient that it called the Occupy protests almost perfectly (how perfectly remains to be seen, I suppose.)

At the same time it is, without question, a story told by spiders about mutant wasps changing the course of human affairs. It's also a book about humans changing the course of personal affairs, and a book about social movements, and about online social networks, and about New York, and... well. It's about a lot of things. But they're things with a great deal of verisimilitude and they are strung together in an entirely enjoyable fashion, and that's what you're looking for, right?

Unless you're looking for a neat ending. In which case you've probably come to the wrong author, frankly.
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By A Customer on December 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
Julia Hernandez leaves her husband City College Professor Raymond before murdering Peter Neads Fisherman and then vanishing. Since she left him, Raymond rationalizes her dumping him without warning as a "penis panic" attack on her part.

He spots Julia in public near where they lived in Lower Manhattan. The first time was at a grocer she never shopped in buying items she never ate when they were married. The second encounter is in Times Square in which Raymond chose flight rather than confront Julia with why. His running saves his life from an observer ready to push him into traffic. A distraught Raymond will soon learn why Julia committed murder and fled. He finds out about the insect eggs in her arm and the Simulacrum where anarchist wasps and a super genius spider hive that collectively is a "man" ready to shove the professor into traffic. These two insecticide species battle to steer or crash humanity.

Sensation is an entertaining modern day parable that looks at the accumulative stress of minor annoyances in a world in which the individual has no wiggle room alternative. Told by the spiders, Nick Mamatas looks at the Butterfly Effect of chaos in an absolute controlled environment that makes independent thought that breaks away from one's profile impossible. Although the two intelligent insect species are underdeveloped leaving readers with a void; fans will enjoy this allegorical look at New York, in which Seinfeld is right that as Queen sings in Bohemian Rhapsody "Nothing really matters, anyone can see nothing really matters ...."

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Paperback
There's something about Mamatas' writing that is intensely readable. His novels are usually deeply interior first-person exercises where he brings to life some strange and utterly unique voice. In this case, it's the plural voice of a species of hyperintelligent spiders who narrate the story of an anarchist revolt--one that uses grass-roots techno-activism and absurdist street protests that look an awful like the tactics of the Occupy movement--against their very secret domination of human affairs. Of course, it's a lot more complicated than that. There are these wasps, too. And the dissolution of a marriage. Reading this novel is like watching a very delicate machine, made up of oscillating gold wires and tiny balls, get smashed by a hammer. Err...in a good way.

I really enjoyed this novel, and if you're a fan of well-written social commentary or mind-bending science fictional exercises (a la George Saunders, Philip Dick, or Brian Francis Slattery) then I think you'll enjoy it as well.
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