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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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Adam Robots Reader

By Adam Roberts | August 5, 2013
Categories: Book News, Short Fiction

Wait, that cover splash is not right.

That's better. Well, my collection of short fiction was published. It has been variously reviewed, and I have been unsystematic about gathering notices together. But here is one I saw today, by Niall Harrison, that tall man, on the Strange Horizons blog:

Thesis: Adam Roberts is distinctive among contemporary sf writers not just because he writes unashamed ideas-fiction, but because he writes unashamed old ideas-fiction. There aren’t many novums here you won’t have seen before, from the Adamic robot of the title to the various kinds of immortality, the ethics-modifying substances to the time travel devices. That’s perhaps true of much of the field, and yet by and large Roberts doesn’t pursue either of the common strategies for dealing with it, or even give much indication that he sees it as a problem; he doesn’t really write multi-novum stories, and his worlds are often too streamlined to be fully immersive. So in what ways do the stories here work? First, I think Roberts is getting extremely good at structure; his stories vary widely in length and register, from a very effectively fragmented tale like “A Prison Term of a Thousand Years” (2008), which at four pages is in no danger of outstaying its welcome, to a near-novella-length piece like “Anticopernicus” (2010), which uses its duration to invest its Fermi Paradox-riff with psychological and thematic complexity. Second, his writing is precise and often funny, with its now-familiar precise yet fussy-fidgety style. And third the absence of immersion is actually often freeing, used as a prompt to encourage critical reading and reflection. Some of my favourite stories are the most meta-referential, such as “Wonder: A Story in Two” (2007), which explicitly investigates the notion of conceptual breakthrough, and is echoed by “Dennis Bayle: A Life” (2013), a review of an imaginary book filled with imaginary books that asserts and (I think) disproves the notion that sense-of-wonder requires “novelistic momentum.” Most of the pieces here didn’t get much attention on their first publication -- there are few Year’s Best alumni, and no award nominees -- but Adam Robots demonstrates that Roberts can be as effective in the short form as in the long.

Finally, Pete Young sent me the following photo, with the following message: 'my son Miles is 4 next week, loves robots and rockets, which is a good start. When he saw the cover of Adam Robots, he went for it... I've been trying to get him started on something a little less high-concept, but this time he insisted.' I say: give me a child until he is 4, and I shall make him a Robot Jesuit! Or words to that effect.

What's that? You want to know how to get hold of a copy? All good bookshops, my friend! All good bookshops. Also: (kindle or ppbk). Also, only one month until makes kindle or ppbk available to Americans! But, really, my first suggestion would be: all good bookshops.

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2 Comments to-date;

2 Responses to “Adam Robots Reader”

  1. Phil Says:
    August 15th, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    I used to be hugely into sf short stories, from Asimov through Spinrad & Silverberg to Joanna Russ & James Tiptree Jr, but I drifted away some time in the 90s. (Think it was the 90s - the last New Names I discovered were Connie Willis and Lucius Shepard, I remember that.) Anyway, I picked up this collection in Waterstone's on the strength of (a) your blog and (b) the cover, and got drawn in straight away. My 18-year-old son came up and asked me what I was reading; I passed it over & he got drawn in straight away. We ended up going halves on a copy. We like. I'm hoping he takes it when he moves out, in the general spirit of books finding new eyes.

    In short: nice one.

  2. Adam Roberts Says:
    September 10th, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks, Phil!