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The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts (2015-12-17) Paperback – 1872
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Top customer reviews
Meanwhile, in the 1980s, two men stationed in an Antarctic outpost have already had an encounter with the ‘Ding an sich’, which has left one of them scarred in body and mind and the other one a homicidal maniac with a limited ability to manipulate space and time. The main storyline in the present day follows the former, as he is tasked by the Institute, which developed the AI, to reach out to his colleague, now locked in a maximum security prison, and get his help with unlocking access to the ‘Ding an sich’. The story is interspersed with vignettes of different people's encounters with the ‘Ding an sich’ through time.
As is typical for Adam Roberts, the main character, Charles Gardner, is a complete antihero. A 50+ desperate-for-sex alcoholic refuse collector placed at the epicentre of humanity’s biggest breakthrough makes for an infinite source of hilarious situations and heartfelt giggle. Charles’ exploits also provide a much-needed comic relief, in particular, against the dark and claustrophobic initial sections of the novel. There is a well-executed nod to Jonn Carpenter’s The Thing. There is a solid delve into Kant’s philosophy, which is quite accessibly explained. There is also a fairly good explanation to the Fermi Paradox.
It remains a mystery to me how you can ‘slap’ Kant, Fermi, John Carpenter and loads of Monty Pythonesque humour into the same book and still make the hotchpotch work. But that’s Adam Roberts for you—I think he gets his kick out of devising unthinkable and outright outrageous combinations. The novel remains one step away from greatness the entire time, with the somewhat weak and anticlimatic ending being the only reason why I haven't awarded it five stars.
Guido Eekhaut, award winning author of 'Absinthe'.
completely unexpected trajectories. Fascinating, disturbing work. I highly recommend this novel.
While the story itself is great the structure and length were a bit off. The length...well its LONG. The book is punctuated by flashbacks/forwards that while interesting seemed to take away more from the book then add to it.
I think the author has tremendous ideas and I will definitely read more of his work. I also recommend this for anyone particularly versed in Kantian philosophy