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Adam Roberts is the author of a growing number of science fiction novels, short stories, essays and other writings. This site contains not just his blog, but everything you could ever want to know about everything Adam has ever published. And more...

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Saucy Jack, he’s a haughty one, saucy Jack, he’s a naughty one

By Adam Roberts | September 17, 2012
Categories: Book News

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So, how've you been?

Yes, yes, it's been a while. I shall keep things more up to date around here from now on, I promise -- starting with this post about my latest novel Jack Glass. This is pure plug. Impure semi-plug and other posts to follow.

Anyway, this is the book with, by general opinion, the nicest cover of any of my novels (thank you, Blacksheep). More, according to the entirely disinterested opinion of, er, my wife, it's my best novel yet. You wouldn't want to call my wife a liar, now, would you? Less subjectively it is a mash-up Golden Age SF space opera and Golden Age whodunit. If you don't like those two things then you won't like this, but if you do like them, then ... who knows? Maybe my wife is right. Here's one reader's opinion: from a certain N. O. Tasockpuppet: 'This is most excellent stuff, this triptych of "locked-room mysteries". Inspired by both the "Golden Age of Sci-Fi" and similarly classic whodunits, Adam Roberts has fashioned a Space Opera that satisfies both the imagination and the intellect.' See?

There have been a few published reviews as well, and I'll run briefly through them. To start with the less than enthusiastic: Saxon Bullock, at SFX, was lukewarm -- the review isn't online, I'm afraid, but in a nutshell it was: 'this is a book in three parts; it's good but the first part is exceptionally good so the whole thing doesn't really work, 3 stars out of 5'. Which is hard to argue with. The estimable Guy Haley, despite opening his review with one of the nicest things I've ever read about myself ('Roberts' books are truly difficult to rate, because there isn't anything else like them in the modern SF genre') overall blows as cool as he does hot about the novel. And the great Christopher Priest reviewed the book in The Guardian. It's a review that's difficult to excerpt, and, as you'll see if you click the link, manages to be both positive and rather puzzled and negative at the same time. I tend to the view that it's as close as Priest will come to a dithyrambic review of my writing, given the parameters of his Reviewer's Voice, and his mixed reaction to my writing more generally. But maybe I'm fooling myself.

Other reviews are more straightforwardly positive. Niall Alexander at calls it 'magnificent' (' ... perfectly plotted, winningly worded, and as rewarding, despite everything, as anything you’re apt to read this year, this trifecta of golden age goodness is yet another example of Adam Roberts’ tremendous talents').

Paul di Filippo says nice things about my writing, and this novel, in a locusonline review; wondering as he goes why 'Roberts’s books slide under everyone’s radar, consumer and reviewer alike ... drastically ignored by peers (no Nebula nominations) and fans (no Hugo nominations). But why? His work is always elegantly written, thought-provoking, suspenseful, ingeniously speculative and deftly plotted. He knows the history of the field inside and out (having written a big critical history of our lineage). He honors mainstream fiction as well. I find his characters eminently lifelike, his tone droll and acerbic and yet not insensitive to common human passions. In short, he seems the very model of a modern SF writer.'

Harry Ritchie, at the Daily Mail, says: 'The ingenuity factor is impressive enough, but this is a novel that also manages to shift our sympathy towards the infamous culprit, as we discover not only who done it and how but why, for this is a mightily oppressive future where trillions are governed by a dictatorial elite and capitalism at its rawest. Startlingly clever - a maestro’s performance.'

Liviu Siciu, over at Fantasy Book Critic: '[To say] "it is an extraordinary novel" is quite the understatement. A top 10 novel of 2012 for me.'

The Material Witness blog wasn't sure what to say: 'It's been about a month since I raced through Jack Glass in the space of 24 hours, and the reason it's taken me this long to review it is that I simply haven't been able to figure out how to write about it. That has nothing to do with the writing of Adam Roberts, which is exquisite throughout - smart, witty and addictive - nor the brilliance of Jack Glass, which is a fascinating, compelling and challenging tale of personality, politics and socio-economics. I have enjoyed no novel more during 2012.'

John Clute has some spontaneous jactitations over at Strange Horizons. he breaks open the R S Thomas (that great poet), amongst other things.

And finally, the hugely perceptive and rather neglected critic Dan Hartland, despite making cruel aspersions about my male pattern baldness ('... and between you and me, my hair is thinning a bit ...'), says some very interesting things.

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8 Comments to-date;

8 Responses to “Saucy Jack, he’s a haughty one, saucy Jack, he’s a naughty one”

  1. Zenek Says:
    September 17th, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    I enjoyed the book - but I was wondering whether Ms Joad has any connection with C E M Joad?

  2. Adam Roberts Says:
    September 18th, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Thank you, Zenek. Alleging that a respected 20th-century philosopher was a sociopath would be quite a criticism, wouldn't it?

  3. Adam Roberts Says:
    September 18th, 2012 at 11:06 am

    A note: I've edited the above slightly, after Saxon Bullock got in touch via Twitter. Not having the magazine to hand I'd misremembered his star rating score, and he didn't use the word 'failure' (though that kind-of was the gist of his review), so I've changed that. My point is: there's something dishonest about authors who only report their positive reviews and discretely bury the less than positive ones, so I wanted to put the latter up front -- and Saxon's is one of the latter. Which is, of course, fair enough: and maybe he's right.

  4. My Homepage Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    ... [Trackback]...

    [...] Read More here: [...]...

  5. Aiden Says:
    October 4th, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Halfway through and loving it. It strikes me as a very successful and compact synthesis of many of your past themes and tones so far. The pacing is also compelling. Looking forward to the denouement!

  6. Adam Roberts Says:
    October 4th, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks, Aiden!

  7. Aleksi Says:
    December 9th, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I bought this one ONLY because your wife thought it is your best novel so far. Don´t disappoint me, my friend... You haven´t done that yet but don´t let this be the first time.

    And I bought By Light Alone, too. Not for the story, though, but for the cover art.

    Cheers, mate. You´re the *a word of your own choosing here*

  8. James Says:
    June 7th, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Currently reading this novel - loving it . It is proving to be one of those reads where I have to carefully pace myself as I don't want to reach the end too soon. Part III The Impossible Gun will have to wait for Saturday.