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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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Thing Itself: the Update Itself

By Adam Roberts | February 1, 2016
Categories: Reviews


I appreciate that endlessly harping on Thing Itself related news is liable to get dull, though I hope you'll indulge me for one more update post. There are a few things to report, you see.

One is this, which is extraordinary, amazing and, for me at least, very exciting indeed.

Another is that the novel made the Locus Online 2015 recommended reading list, which is nice.

Jonathan Strahan's estimable Coode Street Podcast recently talked about the novel, too, with James Bradley and Ian Mond contributing to the discussion; which is even nicer.

There have been a few more reviews, too. Here's the opinion of the Nudge 'Book Geeks' people:

"There are some incredible ideas and boundless leaps of imagination. The plot strands that seem to be disparate all appear to eventually make sense. You’re left wondering about the nature of reality and our place in the universe – themes of all the best science fiction. You’re left reflecting on the book long after you’ve finished. Roberts is one of the best contemporary writers of original science fiction in terms of technical skill, vision and storytelling. The Thing Itself is a brilliant book for many, many reasons."

On the downside, no US publishers have elected to pick the book up (although Gollancz hope to distribute their edition in the States later this year, at least to some extent). Still, I try to console myself with this reader's review:

"The cleverest novel I have ever read. Mind blowing in scope and content, you have never heard the ideas he comes up with in between the pages of this book. The last chapter is so... it's just so COOL. No other word to describe it. I put the book down upon finishing and sat back with a smile remembering all the awseomeness that I just consumed. Much more than the synopsis leads you to believe, it has to be read to be appreciated. There was a point in the story, about 60% in on my Kindle when there was something introduced that led me to believe that this could be jumping the shark but I was then floored by the way Mr. Roberts broke convention and used a tired plot device to explain things outside of the human structure of reasoning. I thought we had a Deus Ex Machina but we got a whole other thing completely, and it's totally original in the execution. Fun, smart, intelligent, difficult at times but a completely satisfying read."

And finally, it would be remiss of me not to note Crooks and Kings' 'Review Type Thing' of the novel, which may be the best review I've ever received. I say so despite the fact that it includes the following, on the novel's chapter 6: "I hated this chapter so fucking much. I’d go as far as to say that this chapter is my least favourite thing I’ve ever willingly read". But it also says the following: "This book is incredibly special to me ... This is easily among the greatest books I’ve ever read, and now all I need is to find the right people to recommend it to." Which is nicest.

I'll try to go easy on Thing Its-hard-sell in future.

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2 Comments to-date;

2 Responses to “Thing Itself: the Update Itself”

  1. Duncan Says:
    February 3rd, 2016 at 11:21 am

    You're absolutely within your rights to tout the book and all of it's kind as much as you can. It's fantastic.

    Bask in the praise. Bask!

  2. Andrew Says:
    October 16th, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    I just finished the book. What an incredible piece of writing and storytelling. I am left affected by it. You have used beautiful prose to weave an incredibly complex tale.

    I'm still left a bit confused, and rest assured this is only because of my small mind. I'm trying to grasp your concept of Kant and his illumination (for you) of the concept of God. Like you, my soul (?) or essence searches for, and feels there must be, something more. But is the answer found vis a vis Kant's philosophy? I found myself wondering whether Kant wasn't more than a philosopher born three hundred years too early, when now, in an age of microscopes, CT scans, ultrasound, X-rays, and even infra-red now illuminates the thing itself for us, that we cannot see, smell, touch or hear?

    And also, what were the interludes really about? Was it the main character interacting with the AI throughout, and if so, why?

    Phenomenal book. Thank you for making me think!