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All the Birds in the Sky Kindle Edition
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The very short list of novels that dare to traffic as freely in the uncanny and wondrous as in big ideas--I think of masterpieces like The Lathe of Heaven; Cloud Atlas; Little, Big--has just been extended by one.--Michael Chabon
"What a magnificent novel--a glorious synthesis of magic and technology, joy and sorrow, romance and wisdom. Unmissable." --Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians
"Into each generation of science fiction/fantasydom a master absurdist must fall, and it's quite possible that with All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders has established herself as the one for the Millennials...highly recommended." --N. K. Jemisin, The New York Times Book Review
Charlie Jane Anders has entwined strands of science and fantasy, both as genres and as ways of experiencing life, into a luminous novel. --John Hodgman
Has the hallmarks of an instant classic. --Los Angeles Times
"Genius....My fave read this year." --Margaret Cho
"Do yourself a favor and go pick up All The Birds in the Sky! You will lurve it." --Amber Benson
"Thoughtful and hip and fantasy and sci-fi all wrapped up. A+." --Felicia Day
"Everything you could ask for in a debut novel -- a fresh look at science fiction's most cherished memes, ruthlessly shredded and lovingly reassembled." --Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
"Read it immediately. Thank me later." --Laurie Penny
"It's fantastic when someone who is so important in the scifi world can flat-out write as well as critique and analyze." --Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author of Alive
"The craziest thing about Charlie Jane Anders' book is how it remains so intimate and accessible despite genre jumping. All the Birds in the Sky moves from a coming of age story to a millennial romance and then a dystopia -- and it's filled with so much of the uncanny. That includes, but is not limited to, a shapeshifting teacher, talking birds and an anti-gravity gun...A truly fun read." --New York Daily News
"A fairy tale and an adventure rolled into one, All the Birds in the Sky is a captivating novel that shows how science and magic can be two sides of the same coin." --The Washington Post
"Anyone suffering from midwinter blues should read Charlie Jane Anders's between-categories fantasy All the Birds in the Sky. The scenario is (almost) Harry Potter, the tone is (quite like) Kurt Vonnegut, the effect is entirely original." --The Wall Street Journal
"Heartfelt, ambitious, and dynamic. Fantastic stuff." --Financial Times
"Imagine that Diana Wynne Jones, Douglas Coupland and Neil Gaiman walk into a bar and through some weird fusion of magic and science have a baby. That offspring is Charlie Jane Anders' lyrical debut novel All the Birds in the Sky." --Independent
"Highly readable and imaginative, All the Birds in the Sky will sing to Philip Pullman fans." --Mail on Sunday
"An entertaining and audacious melding of science, magic, and just plain real life that feels perfectly right for our time." --BuzzFeed, "5 Great Books to Read in February"
"Like the work of other 21st century writers -- Kelly Link and Lev Grossman come immediately to mind -- All the Birds in the Sky serves as both a celebration of and corrective to the standard tropes of genre fiction. [...] Like William Gibson, Anders weaves a thrilling, seat-of-the-pants narrative with a compelling subtext." --Elizabeth Hand, Los Angeles Times
"Two crazy kids, one gifted in science, the other in magic, meet as children, part and meet again over many years. Will they find love? Will they save the world? Or will they destroy it and everyone in it? Read Anders lively, wacky, sexy, scary, weird and wonderful book to find the answers." --Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
Impossibly hip fiction with the voice and cultural inflections of the millennials.... Often quirky and amusing but rising to encompass a moral seriousness and poignancy...an engaging book. --The Sydney Morning Herald
About the Author
- ASIN : B019NFXK72
- Publisher : Titan Books (26 January 2016)
- Language : English
- File size : 1021 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 317 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 74,131 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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For what is meant to be Adult SciFi/Fantasy, a large proportion of the book is based around the MCs in school. But then even when they are adults, their characters and dialogue never matures. So you end up with this weird YA vibe, but with occasional course language and a sex scene that just comes out of nowhere.
All of the characters are completely annoying and horrible, save for perhaps the AI, and are just caricatures of stereotypes. The amount of cruelty and bullying violence described was completely unrealistic and a poorly written attempt at character development.
I can't possibly explain all the things wrong with this novel, it is just a massive MESS. I absolutely forced myself to finish it purely because it was a group read with my book club, but otherwise I would have put it down and regretted that purchase by about 15%.
The only reason this gets a second star is because of the occasional Pratchet-esque humour which was the only thing I liked about this book.
Charlie Jane Anders, you are just not for me.
You. Have. Been. Warned...
Nonetheless i definitely enjoyed her style of storytelling and look forward to her next work.
Top reviews from other countries
Wow, that sounded so promising - this book was going to deal with the issue of humans, nature and machines! Perhaps some theories and philosophies about science and technology, the post-anthropocene and environmentalism were going to be addressed! Alas, how quickly those (perhaps unfair) hopes were dashed.
The first section reads like YA fiction, and Anders does put an interesting spin on the coming-of-age theme with a budding witch Patricia and a science nerd Laurence becoming friends by their default outcaste status in the big bad microcosm of the American middle school system. Throw in a magic tree with some talking birds and a watch that is able to cast the wearer 2 seconds into the future with the press of a button and you could tell that a combination of magic and fantasy with sf was taking root. It kept me interested to see how Anders was going to make this blend of genres work. There was also a good measure of comedy, but mostly of the sitcom variety, with inept parents, evil siblings and school bullies delivering their choice lines and making the lives of our two heroes a daily misery. In the midst of Patricia’s and Laurence’s mutual commiserations, an assassin literally walks into their lives, even as they jokingly speculate on the identity of “a man in black slippers and worn gray socks” on the mall escalators.
The following contrived description seems to have sprung right out of a Nickelodeon TV special:
“His name was Theodolphus Rose, and he was a member of the Nameless Order of Assassins. He had learned 873 ways to murder someone without leaving even a whisper of evidence, and he had to kill 419 people to reach the number nine spot in the NOA hierarchy. He would have been very annoyed to learn that his shoes had given him away because he prided himself on blending with his surroundings.” Theodolphus also likes ice cream and disguises himself as the school counsellor because for some unfathomable (perhaps I missed it in the midst of cringing) reason, his next targets are Patricia and Laurence, and by his influence he manages to wreak more havoc into their lives.
Then there was a quantum leap into the second section where the two characters have become adults and virtual strangers, each living in their separate worlds. The witch Patricia, had been spirited away to a sadistic version of Rowlings’ Hogwarts, and after graduating, goes into the business of protecting nature through witchcraft and magic. Her mentors are shapeshifters and the like, and her missions include “taking out” the rich and corrupt (for a noble cause of course), though Patricia also impressively uses her powers to soothe and heal, like when a party falls apart with bad music and food poisoned guests. Laurence the former science geek has become a sought-after corporate scientist in the midst of building a wormhole generator to send humans off this increasingly uninhabitable Earth.
These two central characters reunite but clash in terms of philosophy and worldview, as well as their seemingly irreconcilable use of science and magic. This is interesting, except that the writing never quite elevates itself beyond the level of a YA novel. Instead there are some frankly awkward and embarrassing sex scenes and a dose of violent gore to signal that this is a proper adult novel, that also happens to deal with serious issues like the anthropogenic destruction of the planet.
It is clear Anders is an ambitious novelist and she has many interesting genre-bending ideas which are not easy to execute and assemble cohesively onto the page. However, it tried too hard to be too many things at the same time, and coupled with the flat characterisation and stilted (some may see it as quirky) dialogue, the novel just did not quite hold well together.
When the novel shifts to catch up with the two misfits in later life, Lawrence is part of a secret pool of scientists seeking ways to escape a dying world and Patricia has become a member of a magical order which instead attempts to heal the damage done, or at least alleviate some of its consequences. By this point the science has sharpened up into something which (for the most part) is recognisably from a possible future, and as the story weaves between and blends magic and science all ideas of genre fall away. Patricia and Lawrence – each immersed in their separate ideologies - meet again, clash, fall deeply in love, and accidentally rush the world towards annihilation.
It’s sweet, really.
No, I mean it. For all of the dystopian trappings the book ends up wearing, at its heart is a simple and lasting friendship which might bloom to romance if a few misunderstandings can be wrinkled out. The story is as much about ‘feels’ as ‘stuff’. What prevents it from ever being reductive is that Anders writes this very recognisable dysfunctional/functional relationship to focus not so much on the big things that every book about a relationship concentrates on, but about the idiosyncratic details and oddities which (when you read them) are instantly recognisable, but which rarely form the structure of a narrative in this way. The emotional roadmap is familiar, but the handcrafted detailing is so exquisite, unusual, and funny that it feels brand new. I’ve read reviews comparing Anders to various authors, and her genre fusions invite extensive comparisons depending on what aspects leap to the foreground for you, but for me she feels like a welcome intruder in Neil Gaiman’s natural territory, casting fresh eyes over an already compelling landscape.
Funny, compelling, deeply engaging – I’ll be surprised if, come the end of the year, I don’t look back at this as one of my favourite books.
It centres on two characters whose lives cross at various points - Patricia, a witch, and Laurence, a scientist. The book opens with two wonderful chapters on their childhood experiences as unhappy outcasts and the awakening of their respective abilities, both of which come to be massively important (for the fate of the world no less) as the story unfolds. These two central characters are believable and sympathetic, and I ended up becoming very fond of both of them, warts and all. The supporting cast of characters is perhaps not as skilfully drawn (a few of them blurred into one for me), but what Charlie Jane Anders does create is a believable world where witchcraft and futuristic science co-exist. The world is familiar in many ways (some of the early chapters hardly read like speculative fiction at all), but with wrinkles of magic and gadgetry that somehow just work without ever seeming out of place. Anders gives us a reality where characters can fly and talk to animals and where geeks build wrist mounted time machines, but also where parents often do the wrong things despite good intentions, kids get picked on at school and love is confusing and elusive.
Narratively the book isn’t perfect, there’s a somewhat weird sub-plot that runs throughout involving an assassin which I would happily have seen edited out and other things feel like they are missing, with a somewhat jarring leap from the main characters’ adolescence to adulthood that I felt might have worked better if there had been an intervening chapter on those few missing years. Part of me wants to say that Anders’ talent as a storyteller doesn’t quite manage to keep pace with her wonderful imagination, but in all honesty what problems there are with the book are quickly forgotten in the rush of brilliant ideas and the gripping race to save the planet. For good measure, she throws in some lovely, and convincing, romantic elements; as well as insightful observations on the awkward process of becoming an adult.
“I am unflappable,” Laurence told the bus driver. Who shrugged, as if he’d thought so too, once upon a time, until someone had flapped him.
So whilst ‘All the Birds in the Sky’ is not without its faults, it’s impossible not to recommend it. If you’re a dreamer, whether those dreams are of spells or spaceships, you’ll find something to delight you here.