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Ares Express (2001)

por Ian McDonald

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

Séries: Desolation Road (2)

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
24211112,570 (3.78)21
Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:Taking place in the kaleidoscopic future of Ian McDonald's Desolation Road, this novel is set on a terraformed Mars where fusion-powered locomotives run along the network of rails that is the planet's circulatory system and artificial intelligences reconfigure reality billions of times each second. One young woman, Sweetness Octave Glorious-Honeybun Asiim 12th, becomes the person upon whom the future - or futures - of Mars depends. Big, picaresque, funny; taking the Mars of Ray Bradbury and the more recent, terraformed Marses of authors such as Kim Stanley Robinson and Greg Bear, Ares Express is a wild and woolly magic-realist SF novel, featuring lots of bizarre philosophies, strange, mind-stretching ideas and trains as big as city blocks.

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Mostrando 1-5 de 11 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
A few brief thoughts:
-This book is very, very funny. The jokes are very well integrated into the characterization and plot, in such a way that it is difficult to quote them out of context. I tried to repeat the jokes to people, because they are so thoroughly excellent, only to find that they required too much set-up to be funny second hand. I have decided this 'not funny second hand' will be a virtue.
-There are metafictional elements to the novel which are quite weak, and are the only thing which stopped me from giving 5 stars. The problem (I have only just now realized) is that metafiction is necessarily expository, rather than descriptive. In a science fictional context, this kind of exposition produces the fatal 'Old Man Explaining to Young Person What's Going On' thing which is a boredom unto death.
-Also, the metafiction reads as if the author felt guilty about writing what might be seen as a conventional picaresque adventure story and so he felt the need to have the characters nod and wink at the reader, to let us know that he knew this was all a bit silly and fun. I'm of a different opinion: if you are going to be silly, be silly. Narratively speaking, once you chose your path, never apologize for it. Ever.
-I could go into more detail on these points, but I've got stuff to do. If you like well-wrought, imaginary worlds populated with clever ideas and fully realized characters and unrepeatable jokes about such things as two thirds of a posh frock or a half eaten romance novel, then *Ares Express* is for you. ( )
1 vote ralphpalm | Nov 11, 2019 |
Desolation Road was about a town. Ares Express is about a person. I hate to talk about another book too much in a review, but these books are very similar, and Ares is a quasi-sequel. It’s not necessary to read Desolation Road first, but you will catch a few cameos and other things in this book with that background.. They’re both very beautiful, both very lyrical. However Ares Express is just better. It doesn’t suffer from the sudden jarring of character, it doesn’t (excuse the term) go off the rails.

This book is all about Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey-Bun Asiim Engineer 12th. A 9 year old (in Mars years) girl who wants to run a train. But she can’t, because the controls of the train (which generations live on), will go to her brother, because the controls are passed father to son. Then her train/family tries to marry her off to a Stuard on another train and she leaves, making her own destiny rather than being subjected to what her mini-society expects.

Our plucky hero has a story with zombie-like towns, a cult-personality (and, well, the cult itself), mad politicians, angels, slavers, and free-children. It’s a great story with lots of vibrant imagery, great characters, and wonderful action.

This has everything I loved reading in Desolation Road, and none of the things I didn’t. Great story. Great ride. ( )
1 vote suzemo | Mar 31, 2013 |
Desolation Road was about a town. Ares Express is about a person. I hate to talk about another book too much in a review, but these books are very similar, and Ares is a quasi-sequel. It’s not necessary to read Desolation Road first, but you will catch a few cameos and other things in this book with that background.. They’re both very beautiful, both very lyrical. However Ares Express is just better. It doesn’t suffer from the sudden jarring of character, it doesn’t (excuse the term) go off the rails.

This book is all about Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey-Bun Asiim Engineer 12th. A 9 year old (in Mars years) girl who wants to run a train. But she can’t, because the controls of the train (which generations live on), will go to her brother, because the controls are passed father to son. Then her train/family tries to marry her off to a Stuard on another train and she leaves, making her own destiny rather than being subjected to what her mini-society expects.

Our plucky hero has a story with zombie-like towns, a cult-personality (and, well, the cult itself), mad politicians, angels, slavers, and free-children. It’s a great story with lots of vibrant imagery, great characters, and wonderful action.

This has everything I loved reading in Desolation Road, and none of the things I didn’t. Great story. Great ride. ( )
  suzemo | Mar 31, 2013 |
Not really impressed. Steampunk is a bit difficult to take seriously as it is, adding a farce comic layer over the top doesn't work very well. The basic set-up was interesting, but it quickly descended into try and failing to be far too clever, and lost itself along the way. Some flashes of interest, but otherwise only recommended for dedicated steampunk fans. This is nominally the 2nd of a series, but reads as well as it's going to as a standalone.

Some girl with a silly name - Sweetness et al, - is an Engineer on a nuclear powered steam train. No they didn't explain why a nuclear power plant was needed to create steam, it appeared to be an excuse to market the novel as steampunk, when it isn't really. This steam train runs on a terraformed Mars. The terraforming has been conducted by various AI and nano-tech robotics which now lie dormant. Girl refuses an arranged marriage with the Stuards (stewards?) and runs off into the desert. Here she discovers that her ghost/imaginary childhood friend is actually an almost embodied/awake AI. However in the course of this discovery the spirit gets stolen by a high Priest intent on using the spirit to invoke Armageddon and remove/destroy all the other AIs that have been keeping Mars habitable. Again why he wants this is never explained, nor is any link between the AIs and religion. Various pointless coincidences and spare characters turn up to save the heroine from various fates, before they pootle back off to whatever lives (unexplained) they had before they were needed.

Could have been a lot better. The world was well imagined, and it is a decent premise for a novel. But I really didn't enjoy the execution that much. The self absorbed heroine grated a lot of the way through, especially once she realised she was in a Story and could rely on various dramatic narratives to get her our of situations. That works once as joke at best. It doesn't succeed in sustaining the remaining two thirds of the novel. MacDonalds' writing was generally quite enjoyable. The entire paragraph consisting of nothing but cursing was inventive and deserves to be spread wider as an internet meme. The following page listing the various targets and nouns of the cursing was overdone and became boring - this works quite well as a metaphor for the entire book, one decent paragraph followed by an overlong page of dross.

Not to my taste. Macdonald has many fans and I could be persuaded to try some more of his work, but only if the farcical elements are removed. ( )
  reading_fox | Feb 14, 2012 |
Ares Express is classed as a sequel to the author's wonderful far-future Mars story Desolation Road. As I anticipated, the continuous characters from Desolation Road are few and somewhat peripheral. It would be a fine stand-alone read, and no one should avoid it for lack of familiarity with the previous volume.

Unlike his first Martian book with its sprawling ensemble, McDonald really focuses this one on the single heroine Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey-Bun Asiim Engineer 12th, and the time-frame of the story is much briefer, so McDonald doesn't pull off the same astonishing combination of little stories adding up to a big one. Although he still manages to avoid the word Mars throughout the novel, he also furnishes a lot of additional information about the fourth planet and its history, religions, and relations to "Motherworld," in ways that are more direct than those of Desolation Road.

"Naked to our lens, human imagination had engineered its surface. Whether watered by slow canals, galloped across by green or red barbarians; contemplated by a wistful autumn people; the little world next one out, unlike the other globes in the system, rocky or smothered with steam, had always possessed a geography. Names were written on its skin." (251-2)

Ares Express is full of thematic and iconic connections to Peter Pan. Sweetness kicks off the events of the book by fleeing her arranged wedding: she doesn't want to grow up, at least not in the way dictated by her family -- part of the engineer caste perpetually living on the massive nuclear-powered trains that serve as the principal long-distance transport on Mars. The Captain Hook role is occupied by Devastation Harx, a cult leader attempting to incite planetary cataclysm from his airship cathedral. The book is chock-full of urchins and micro-societies of voluntary castaways.

While the central course of events in Ares Express make up a coming-of-age novel, the most significant secondary plot-line features the adventures of Sweetness' Grandmother Taal in her efforts to rescue the girl (and the planet). As a counterpoint to the rollicking cinematic action of Sweetness' journey, Grandmother Taal's story is more literary and episodic.

It's no wonder to me that McDonald took about thirteen years to finish a second Mars story -- his vision is too fine to waste on a rush job, and it's clear that he had the necessary inspiration to continue here. Maybe there'll be a third someday!
2 vote paradoxosalpha | Nov 9, 2011 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 11 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Artificial intelligences manipulate mortals with the casual power of gods; prophecies come true; quantum realities erase railroad tracks with a slice of terrain from an alternate Mars—and that’s just for starters. ... McDonald gingerbreads the all-important locomotives with steampunk detailing. These metafictional devices are enjoyable for readers who are in the know, and not disruptive for readers who aren’t.
 

» Adicionar outros autores

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Ian McDonaldautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Martiniere, StephanArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Youll, PaulArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:Taking place in the kaleidoscopic future of Ian McDonald's Desolation Road, this novel is set on a terraformed Mars where fusion-powered locomotives run along the network of rails that is the planet's circulatory system and artificial intelligences reconfigure reality billions of times each second. One young woman, Sweetness Octave Glorious-Honeybun Asiim 12th, becomes the person upon whom the future - or futures - of Mars depends. Big, picaresque, funny; taking the Mars of Ray Bradbury and the more recent, terraformed Marses of authors such as Kim Stanley Robinson and Greg Bear, Ares Express is a wild and woolly magic-realist SF novel, featuring lots of bizarre philosophies, strange, mind-stretching ideas and trains as big as city blocks.

From the Trade Paperback edition..

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