- File Size: 1122 KB
- Print Length: 369 pages
- Publisher: Gollancz (December 17, 2015)
- Publication Date: December 17, 2015
- Sold by: Hachette Book Group
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00SRVA78Y
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,864 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$13.99|
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The Thing Itself Kindle Edition
|Length: 369 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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The Thing Itself is evidence of Adam Roberts' inimitable brilliance.―Tor.com
The Thing Itself is evidence of Adam Roberts' inimitable brilliance.
A remarkable novel: both gripping and intellectually exciting.―George Monbiot
A remarkable novel: both gripping and intellectually exciting.
A time-travelling nerd applies Kant with lethal results in this dazzling philosophical adventure...this is really walking the literary high wire, and Roberts not only keeps his balance, he makes the spectacle compelling―The Guardian
A time-travelling nerd applies Kant with lethal results in this dazzling philosophical adventure...this is really walking the literary high wire, and Roberts not only keeps his balance, he makes the spectacle compelling
I can't think of another such ostentatiously clever novel that is so dramatically successful.―Julian Baggini
I can't think of another such ostentatiously clever novel that is so dramatically successful.
I do appreciate a novel that makes me think while also entertaining me. The Thing Itself marries the two to perfection. There is so much packed within these pages and, without doubt, it's one of those memorable novels that will stand to repeated readings over the passing of time. A book of the year for me, for sure.―For Winter's Nights --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.
Two scientists station themselves in remote Antarctica for the winter, to listen for intergalactic noise in the search for life "out there". But one of the scientists is also intent on proving that Kant's philosophy can be used to solve the Paradox, if he can only tune the computers right and get rid of his companion.
Most of the story takes place after they've left Antarctica. Alternating with the main plot are separate stories take place in different times and places and describe some of the ways in which the experiment affects people and history. These interludes are interesting stories in themselves, but even having finished the book I'm not exactly sure what all of them meant.
This is one of those books I'd call philosophical science fiction. It's scary, unsettling, and brilliant, and best of all requires readers to consider that our own perceptions may be very limited in intuiting reality. I don't know how long the average person can hold themselves in that state, but it's certainly worthwhile to shake oneself up sometimes, even if only temporarily before we sink back into our (perhaps slightly altered) previous points of view.
This is a challenging read. The main story is interspersed with chapters that go back-and-forth in time and the vocabulary/spelling/writing style goes right along. 16th century England is quite different from 23rd century Somewhere from 19th century Germany but somehow it manages to stay readable. Quite a testament to the author. And we spend the last days with the philosopher Kant; Who had it all figured out and didn’t realize it until the very end.
Guido Eekhaut, award winning author of 'Absinthe'.
completely unexpected trajectories. Fascinating, disturbing work. I highly recommend this novel.
Top international reviews
That said from what I pieced together and what I learned along the way, this book was well worth it.
The chapter "a solid gold penny" could have been a book in itself.
Essentially an exploration into perceived reality, religion and fact. Is what we see and measure just a manifestation of our own minds built to protect us from reality (the thing itself)
I read the book, and immediately wanted to go back to see what I had missed first time round.
Wearing my pedant's/proofreader's hat - p284 of the trade paperback: Adonais orders a new tablet device for delivery by 5pm the same day and though we stay with that character through the expected delivery time and place nothing arrives. In that single respect the work fails to deliver.
One thing, sorry to be pedantic, i found it hard to believe a team of just 2 men would be left in the Antarctic. Although is following the convention of the horror story, surely that would never have happened ?