Malazan Empire: Rejoice! A byss to the Heart! - Malazan Empire

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Rejoice! A byss to the Heart!

#1 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 07:44 PM

Well, that was different.

And amazing.

And... kind of challenging.


I'm going all out spoilers here so if you haven't read it be warned SPOILERS

SPOILERS

COMPLETE UTTER SPOILERS FOR
REJOICE A KNIFE TO THE HEART
YES ALIEN SPOILER BARRIER WILL PREVENT YOU BEING
SPOILED
UNLESS YOU KEEP READING
THEN YOU'RE S-O-L
SPOILERED-OUTTA-LUCK
SPOILERS

I could be wrong, but i've always had the impression that not many Malazfans have read THE DEVIL DELIVERED. Which is unfortunate because it's a great book, SE predicts a whole series of internet related tech/social changes years before they happen, and it shows SE can write strong sf.

But we got the MBF, and it blew the lid off most of our concepts of fantasy lit.

Even then there are concepts that are tilted a little more sf and f... you know the ones, and they're great.

But WILFUL CHILD, fun as it is, is not sf in the sense of taking 'science' and using it to write 'fiction' in the way that, say Robert Sawyer or Peter Watts does, or your average fervent Heinlein or Azimov reader might think of. It showcases SE's humour, love for Star Trek, and ability to write the near complete opposite of the MBF, but it doesn't show what he can do with science fiction the way DEVIL does. I suspect that if THE DARK had happened, we might have gotten that too.

REJOICE!, on the other hand, does. Very much so.

The core concept, aliens do something to Earth so there is no more violence, is intriguing. It sort of opens up the obvious line of thought that someone will find a way around it and that will be the/a core conflict in the story.
Except no one ever does. No one even spends large chunks of the book trying to. Humanity doesn't beat the anti-violence tech because they can't and anyways that's not the point of the story. The point is 'what happens then', and as SE writes it, what happens then is fascinating.

We follow a series of characters, a fairly large cast, as their lives change because of the removal of violence, followed by the removal of scarcity, hunger, disease, etc. It's an interesting treatise on human nature and to SE's credit he keeps each voice different and each situation distinct. The wife-abuser is nothing like the arms dealer is nothing like the African warlord. The industrialists' secretary has a distinct 'voice' from the Prime Minister's assistant, and the UN Secretary-General is awesome and a character i wish i could read more about. The key character sf author Samantha August has her own utterly engaging manner as well. It's a wealth of distinct characters dealing with a world altering situation, and it makes for an engaging read.

I wondered whether i would be bothered by the lack of jeopardy... no one is ever in danger. There is no risk, or even the suggestion of it, that any character is going to die or even get hurt, at any point past the first chapters. Even when the Chinese astronauts are raiding the Greys base, there isn't really a sense of 'risk' (that said... that scene when they find the survivors was brutal (in a good way) ). I was not bothered. It took a mental adjustment for me, but SE keeps the pace of the story brisk, and even when characters are deep in a philosophical discussion about humanity, the nature of conflict, a future without hunger, they don't meander needlessly. You can actually believe the characters are having the conversation they're having. No random philosopher-grunt-soldiers here, these are intelligent people (mostly).

The core conflict... whether humanity can pull its collective shit together, embrace the new reality, and become more than a bunch of apes trashing their poor abused planet, is interesting. There is never a point in the book where i felt the answer would be anything but 'yes'... again, no real sense of jeopardy. Conflict, yes, but not 'the good guys could lose'. Even so, i found the whole notion very engaging. It's a very optimistic book, that calls out the darker elements of the world now and suggests the world could rise above it, while acknowledging that without a benevolent omniscient AI to do the initial heavy lifting, the goal is hard to reach, maybe impossible, but not quite.

Some scenes stand out... the aforementioned Chinese mission, author Robert Sawyer giving the PM a hard time, Samantha's descent in her Klingon Bird of Prey (and damn that was funny and i enjoyed the rationale for it), pretty much every time the US President is making an idiot of himself. I like the notion that despite the aliens' entire pacifictic approach, they really do want humanity to more or less wipe out the parisitic Greys once they get spaceborne.
I liked the lingering mysteries about Mars, the long term project for Venus and how various characters - the organic farmer - reacted to that.

The earbook narrator is excellent. She keeps the pacing solid, the voices distinct, lets her tone move from wry humour to serious to introspective effectively.

Overall, this is a different, enjoyable book, and i hope SE gives us more sf. On some level i really want him to write 'The Bridgeburners in Space', but on another i hope he keeps writing books that keep asking hard questions .

Great book, worth the read.
CHASE: Paw Patrol is ready for action Mr Pust sir!
PUST: *pauses ranting* What does that mean?
ZUMA: It means let's dive in, dude!
PUST: What? What is a dude? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?????
-The Malazan Book of the Paw Patrol
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#2 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 03:14 AM

I loved the book and I think that anyone who has read Malazan would recognize certain themes already talked about in that series getting more prominent and central in this book.

However, a thought has been bothering me over the past few weeks - humanity in the book is saved not through its own efforts, but in spite of itself. A god-level AI makes violence impossible, literally throws people out of ecologically vulnerable zones, enacts other huge changes, and also beams down huge amounts of resources to stave off starvation.

All of these actions are unilateral and unchallengeable.

So my question is, especially in the context of multiple crises across the globe, has SE lost faith in humanity, that humanity can pull itself together enough to make these changes of their own volition? Many people who are disillusioned with democracy get attracted to more authoritarian regimes. Can Rejoice be read like that - a move away from representative government under the leadership of an allpowerful benevolent AI?

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#3 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 03:56 PM

View PostAndorion, on 05 December 2018 - 03:14 AM, said:

I loved the book and I think that anyone who has read Malazan would recognize certain themes already talked about in that series getting more prominent and central in this book.


Very much so, but here i felt like SE gave the characters more distinct voices so the discussions worked better than say, Fall of Light, where the discussions tended to be in the narrator's voice thru the various characters whomever was speaking. Consequently i enjoyed the discussions more. Also the approach was for the most part tighter and focused. Other than some of Sam's exchanges with Adam which were intended to be philosophical debates, most of the discussions were limited to one or two exchanges and end scene.

Quote

However, a thought has been bothering me over the past few weeks - humanity in the book is saved not through its own efforts, but in spite of itself. A god-level AI makes violence impossible, literally throws people out of ecologically vulnerable zones, enacts other huge changes, and also beams down huge amounts of resources to stave off starvation.

All of these actions are unilateral and unchallengeable.

So my question is, especially in the context of multiple crises across the globe, has SE lost faith in humanity, that humanity can pull itself together enough to make these changes of their own volition? Many people who are disillusioned with democracy get attracted to more authoritarian regimes. Can Rejoice be read like that - a move away from representative government under the leadership of an allpowerful benevolent AI?


Yes and no.... the initial message is that it would take something on the level of an Act Of God to actually bring about the change/salvage/redemption on the level that the book depicts, but the underlying message is that it does not need to be something on that level if enough people wanted it badly enough. The point is made more than once that we could feed the planet if we wanted to... i have no idea if that is physically accurate, but as a starting point it shows that the issue isn't with what we have but what we're doing with it and why.
CHASE: Paw Patrol is ready for action Mr Pust sir!
PUST: *pauses ranting* What does that mean?
ZUMA: It means let's dive in, dude!
PUST: What? What is a dude? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?????
-The Malazan Book of the Paw Patrol
0

#4 User is offline   James Hutton 

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 02:56 PM

View PostAbyss, on 04 December 2018 - 07:44 PM, said:

the lack of jeopardy

Yes, MBotF was on jeopardy, maybe Sam&Adam will be next week.

View PostAbyss, on 04 December 2018 - 07:44 PM, said:

Overall, this is a different, enjoyable book, and i hope SE gives us more sf.
Great book, worth the read.


Agreed. We know SE can write strong af, and I thoroughly liked how he told this story. The brilliant ideas behind this plot, how the characters are distinct and have their unique 'voice', as well as how their personal stories drive the overall plot. Will read it again when I get the book back from loaning it out.

Since now, finally, I can be a good fanboy and spread Erikson's writing to allll of my friends without having to badger them into reading 10 brick-size fantasy books back to back -- that will now come second.
Secret message: "Keep up the good work, yours truly"
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Posted 06 December 2018 - 04:49 PM

View PostJames Hutton, on 06 December 2018 - 02:56 PM, said:

...
Since now, finally, I can be a good fanboy and spread Erikson's writing to allll of my friends without having to badger them into reading 10 brick-size fantasy books back to back -- that will now come second.


Heh, good point this.
Tho it's a pretty special flavour of sf... anyone hoping for laser swords and F-16s dogfighting flying saucers is going to have a hard time with this.

That said, anyone who's had their fill of laser swords and F-16s dogfighting flying saucers (is that possible?) will LOVE this book.

At the end of the day the thing i like most is the sheer difference... this is not like anything else ive read, which, for me, if i enjoy the book, propels it from like to love for the novelty.
I've read other sf with little or no 'action' to speak of... hell, that's 90% of Azimov, Clarke, and number of other classic sf authors... and while some are good or great, i get bored easily. I did not become bored with REJOICE at any point.
CHASE: Paw Patrol is ready for action Mr Pust sir!
PUST: *pauses ranting* What does that mean?
ZUMA: It means let's dive in, dude!
PUST: What? What is a dude? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?????
-The Malazan Book of the Paw Patrol
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#6 User is offline   James Hutton 

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 10:57 AM

View PostAbyss, on 06 December 2018 - 04:49 PM, said:

View PostJames Hutton, on 06 December 2018 - 02:56 PM, said:

...
Since now, finally, I can be a good fanboy and spread Erikson's writing to allll of my friends without having to badger them into reading 10 brick-size fantasy books back to back -- that will now come second.

Tho it's a pretty special flavour of sf... anyone hoping for laser swords and F-16s dogfighting flying saucers is going to have a hard time with this.


I'd agree. But I want to them to read it because they are interested in psychology, philosophy and humanities, not necessarily hard/space opera/swords&lasers scifi. It's what I, personally, like most about MBotF: laying bare what makes us human and why, with SE returning to compassion as a core value. Now I can show them this in a (one) good novel, instead of >3 million words.

Have you read The Devil Delivered, Abyss? If so, what's your take on it? I'm thinking about buying it, since some reviewers say Rejoice is close(ish) to the writing in TDD.
Secret message: "Keep up the good work, yours truly"
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