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The Thing Itself by [Roberts, Adam]
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Length: 369 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product description

Product Description

Adam Roberts turns his attention to answering the Fermi Paradox with a taut and claustrophobic tale that echoes John Carpenters' The Thing.

Two men while away the days in an Antarctic research station. Tensions between them build as they argue over a love-letter one of them has received. One is practical and open. The other surly, superior and obsessed with reading one book - by the philosopher Kant.

As a storm brews and they lose contact with the outside world they debate Kant, reality and the emptiness of the universe. The come to hate each other, and they learn that they are not alone.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1465 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0575127724
  • Publisher: Gollancz (17 December 2015)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B010Q1FSFO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,698 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars 20 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulp Mash-Up Brainy Dynamite 21 March 2016
By Dmitry Portnoy - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The ultimate pulp sci-fi novel, this book weaves all the big tropes--aliens, artificial intelligence, time travel, mad scientists, cheesy special effects--into a unified whole that's entertaining, mind-expanding and makes sense. I can imagine its author, Adam Roberts, sitting in a pub, perhaps having been stood up by a date, and setting himself this as a challenge: "Can I tie all these disparate, long-abused elements together into a good story, and throw in some German Philosophy plus a wicked satire of contemporary memoirs and references to everyone from Joyce to Pynchon?" The answer turns out to be "Hell yes!" But the only way to believe it is to read it.
4.0 out of 5 stars An Outrageous Hotchpotch of Philosophy, Spoof and Horror 8 April 2017
By Plamen Nenchev - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In the 18th century, Immanuel Kant postulates that the human mind can never really get to know the real world, the ‘Ding an sich’ (the thing-in-itself), as the way we experience it is, necessarily, structured by our own perceptions. For example, space, time or causality are not necessarily immanent properties of the ‘Ding an sich’, but only how we perceive it with our own limited human senses. In the 21st century, an experimental AI, which is not limited by the shackles of the human mind, indeed discovers the existence of an entirely different reality beyond the veil of human perception. Direct access to the ‘Ding an sich’ would make it possible for humanity to manipulate space, time and causality and would mean a quantum leap for the human kind.

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The thing beyond the thing. 1 March 2017
By Guido Eekhaut - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kantian philosophy and speculative fiction match very well, thank you, although it's only Adam Roberts who can pull this off. He investigates the otherworldly idea of the essence of things beyond our observation, discovering a world that is more absurdly strange than almost anything any other writer of SF could come up with. Still this is almost a thriller, and can be read for its suspense alone.

Guido Eekhaut, award winning author of 'Absinthe'.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this novel 2 October 2016
By Edward J. Keller - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Exceptional, philosophically engaged science fiction/speculative fiction. Extrapolates out from a kind of re-think of 'The Thing' into a range of
completely unexpected trajectories. Fascinating, disturbing work. I highly recommend this novel.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't say enough good things about this book 3 March 2017
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Verified Purchase
I can't say enough good things about this book. Roberts ability to communicate dense philosophical ideas in an accessible and even fun way, woven into a terrifyingly unique story is a thing of beauty. I've been recommending this story to anyone who will listen! It's been weeks since I've read it but the characters and ideas continue to stay with me, pulling my mind down through dark corners and shifting perspectives.