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Appleseed

av Matt Bell

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
269899,247 (3.6)8
Eighteenth-century Ohio: two brothers travel into the wooded frontier, planting apple orchards from which they plan to profit in the years to come. As they plan for a future of settlement and civilization, the long-held bonds and secrets between the two will be tested, fractured and broken. In the second half of the twenty-first century: climate change has ravaged the Earth. Having invested early in genetic engineering and food science, one company now owns all the world's resources. In a pivotal moment for the future of humanity, one of the company's original founders returns to headquarters, intending to destroy what he helped build. A thousand years in the future: North America is covered by a massive sheet of ice. One lonely sentient being inhabits a tech station on top of the glacier, and sets out to follow a homing beacon across the continent in the hopes of discovering the last remnant of civilization. -- adapted from jacket… (mer)
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» Se även 8 omnämnanden

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I plodded through this to the end more out of curiosity than of enjoyment. And plodded is the right verb to match the slogging prose, the overwrought descriptions that advance neither the plot nor the characters. So glad the death march is over. ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
I wanted the first book I read in 2023 to be a work of fiction. I wanted to become immersed and nothing pulls me in faster than post-apocalyptic stories. Appleseed: A Novel by Matt Bell is a story that takes place across three timelines: one in the pre-industrial North American frontier, one in the near future following ecological collapse, and one in the far future after a continental-sized glacier has taken over North America. The characters that inhabit each of these stories are connected, not only by name, but seemingly also in spirit. Interwoven thematically (and sometimes literally) with their stories are the myths of Ancient Greece.

I found myself having to constantly slow down my reading. I wanted to speed through to see how it all ends: the plot driving above the speed limit. There are moments of wisdom throughout worth slowing down to catch. Each of the characters contemplating their place in nature, mirroring humanity's greater relationship with the environment. It is a profoundly sad book: there is loss, betrayal, and deep love. We watch as the sins of the fathers and mothers, from one Fall to the next, move humanity and its ecosystem toward its inevitable end, each still seeking for some way to regain paradise. ( )
  johnxlibris | Jan 18, 2023 |
“There are exactly three minutes left, then there’s less. Always less. Every noncommittal breath, every vacillating utterance, every frustrated gesture, every wavering thought: the only result of inaction is less time.
No matter what you do, there will never be more time left to act than there is now.”

Appleseed is a novel of a grand scale - told in three parts, in largely three different perspectives, and in three different ages of past, present, and far-flung future. It can be considered to be historical fiction, eco-fiction the likes of which can only be possible in this day and age, and part mythology and myth-making that centers around the all-too familiar Tree and its Apple. It touches on many facets of being that rounds the narrative in such a way that makes it seem inevitable - one cannot tell a story-epic without considering the question of the self: what one wants, and what one has to do to attain it; is want a necessity of being alive, and can it be wrest free of the never-ending quest for more? What makes a man, and is it the want?

The story begins by way of Chapman - not as John Chapman of myth and legend, at least not yet - but Chapman as faun. Half man, half beast, an Other. That’s not all that is transmuted in the telling. In Appleseed, Chapman has an older brother, Nathaniel. The historical fact is thus: John Chapman is the older brother, the one who persuades the younger Nathaniel to join him in the edge of the frontier; their mother died giving birth to Nathaniel. What changes is that Chapman the character was younger, with Nathaniel as his father-figure, but more so his brother, the civilizing influence to his dual nature.

This duality of nature also plays into the future arc, C-433’s narrative. What he is and what he becomes. And in the present, Eury and what she proclaims herself to be: nymph, saviour of the world - and what she becomes: a ghost, spectral and unreal.

The themes of identity, of memory, of being, are all so heart-wrenching in how those topics never cease to be matters of contention to me. Cloning plays a crucial role in Appleseed, but it goes beyond the replication of a body. Every iteration of someone the Loom spits out carries the memories of the ones that came before. Immortality, in short. But Appleseed plays with this in ways that had me questioning what makes a person, as per always. I used to think it’s memory, but with backups and redundancies and carry-overs, it’s not so simple anymore. The matter of forgetting/remembering is crucial too, what with Chapman’s quest for the Tree of Forgetting, a remixed, defamiliarized spin on the Tree of Knowledge - where the implication of the Fall of Man is not so much an enlightenment, but a forgetting of the prelapsarian natures.

Then there is the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. I’ve been encountering this myth a lot lately, but Appleseed focuses on a different aspect of the myth. Where it’s always how Orpheus exercises his human folly/his love/his choice to mythologize Eurydice, in Appleseed it latches on to ideas about grief, foretellings, and a hopeful return to what can not. The layer of inherited sin, as per Chapman-as-Aristaeus, adds to the entire focus of climate change as the compounded inaction of us at the present, along with our fathers and their forefathers.

Appleseed is layered, complex, and necessary. But I have to confess, my romanticization of Ohio (it being for lovers and all) further tugged at my heartstrings as I read this book. The six page litany of native Ohioan species? Had me choked up something fierce. The book’s language is Romantic - it has no choice but to be - transcendental and myth-making as it is. ( )
1 rösta lovesmartyr | Feb 7, 2022 |
I was put off at first by the way the story jumps between timelines. In the end they come together and I found myself caring about the outcome at many levels. The author refers to something called climate fabulist. Perhaps that is what this story is. It is also fundamentally an asking and answering the question of what does it mean to be alive and what is the purpose of life.
This can be seen as a retelling an extension of the story of Johnny Appleseed as well as a cautionary tale about climate change.
It is well written and the characters strange as they are in places do come alive for the reader. ( )
  waldhaus1 | Jan 12, 2022 |
Ambitious, striving for mythic, ultimately pessimistic about humans and optimistic about nature in the extremely long run. Three intertwined stories: that of Chapman, a faun (the internal conflict of his human and animal (natural) states and looking for his true nature) as Johnny Appleseed in the late 18th and early 19th C wandering Ohio with his human brother (looking for ownership and wealth) planting apple orchards. This section mixes tall tales (Johnny Appleseed) with myth (faun and witches carrying a singing head that can warp time) and Shakespeare (three witches); that of John (an obvious dependent of Chapman) set later in the 21st or perhaps early 22nd C, initially seen committing ecoterrorism across an abandoned western US, but also something of a tech genius who helped create Earthtrust, a global corporation that has forced governments to cede territory where it create bioengineered crops and animals capable of withstanding climate change; and C (a clone, a replicant, a shadow of Chapman) seemingly stranded in a new ice age in a distant future, roaming the glacier top seeking crevasses to descend to recover biomass (think of Sisyphus) until he (it?) is, to save his existence, replicated anew, using the recovered biomass, and becomes something different. The first two strands are pessimistic about humans, often diverting into didactic monologues (character sometimes, author other times) about ownership, consumption, progress, human dominion over earth and nature, and hubris. Of the two strands, I found the second the ore compelling. The final strand eventually ties the three together with, seemingly, the end of humans which caused the near destruction of earth to begin with and the eventual renewal through nature. I enjoyed the intellectual growth of the replicant in this latter strand. The various themes resonate with me, but I'd like to think that some humans (and here I think particularly of native peoples on every continent -- who are strangely absent, even in the Chapman strand on the frontier) who are more connected to nature, less concerned with dominion over it, less infected by ownership and the accumulation of wealth, will find a way to survive and restore a more sustainable relationship with earth. ( )
  kewing | Jan 1, 2022 |
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Eighteenth-century Ohio: two brothers travel into the wooded frontier, planting apple orchards from which they plan to profit in the years to come. As they plan for a future of settlement and civilization, the long-held bonds and secrets between the two will be tested, fractured and broken. In the second half of the twenty-first century: climate change has ravaged the Earth. Having invested early in genetic engineering and food science, one company now owns all the world's resources. In a pivotal moment for the future of humanity, one of the company's original founders returns to headquarters, intending to destroy what he helped build. A thousand years in the future: North America is covered by a massive sheet of ice. One lonely sentient being inhabits a tech station on top of the glacier, and sets out to follow a homing beacon across the continent in the hopes of discovering the last remnant of civilization. -- adapted from jacket

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