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Mockingbird av Walter Tevis
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Mockingbird (urspr publ 1983; utgåvan 2014)

av Walter Tevis (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
8403519,463 (4.05)18
In a world where the human population has suffered devastating losses, a handful of survivors cling to what passes for life in a post-apocalyptic, dying landscape. A world where humans wander, drugged and lulled by electronic bliss. A dying world of no children and no art, where reading is forbidden. And a strange love triangle: Spofforth, who runs the world, the most perfect machine ever created, whose only wish is to die; and Paul and Mary Lou, a man and a woman whose passion for each other is the only hope for the future of human beings on earth. An elegiac dystopia of mankind coming to terms with its own imminent extinction, Mockingbird was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novel.… (mer)
Medlem:RaiseHigh
Titel:Mockingbird
Författare:Walter Tevis (Författare)
Info:RosettaBooks (2018), 292 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Mockingbird av Walter Tevis (1983)

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» Se även 18 omnämnanden

engelska (29)  italienska (3)  finska (2)  franska (1)  Alla språk (35)
Visa 1-5 av 35 (nästa | visa alla)
An excellent literary science fiction novel, fully deserving of its status as a cult classic. And a genuinely touching paean to the power of the the written word.

My definition of "literary science fiction" are works that are more interested in emotional truth than in the trivial practical details of science, technology, etc. Novels like, just for example, Solaris, by Stanislaw Lem, Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, or Under the Skin by Michel Faber are more interested in the metaphor of their central narrative conceit than in any minor little thing like "making sense."

And, for me, that's ok, if the central conceit is powerful enough, and the writing is good enough -- and I would say that, in Mockingbird, the conceit is frighteningly powerful, and very funny (in a bleak sort of way). The writing is a little stilted, for my taste, as Tevis moves his human characters from the idiocy imposed by the crazy system they live in, to a kind of intelligence and enlightenment: the most relatable voices are the most natural, and unforced -- the robot Spofforth, and the prisoner Belasco, for example -- the voices where Tevis isn't trying to "say something" (Look at me! How clever am I, writing in the voice of an innocent idiot?!!)

And there's a lot to love here: my copy is bristling with post-it notes, where I've marked lines that horrify, or made me laugh out loud. (Tevis, who was a professor at Ohio University, was clearly having some not-so-innocent fun at the expense of his academic colleagues, students, popular media, other writers .. oh, it's the gift that keeps on giving!)

"..[the] dormitory school ... was a place where the young were taught the ways of their world: Inwardness, Privacy, Self-Fulfillment, Pleasure."

" ... amid the bright flowers of Washington Square, a circle of elderly graduate students sat on the unkempt grass in their denim robes. Their faces were vacant ..."

"'Reading is too intimate,' Spofforth said. 'It will put you too close to the feelings and ideas of others. It will disturb and confuse you.'"

" ... I was furious at the pretense of learning that the university was committed to -- the learning of nothing by students who come here to learn nothing except some kind of inwardness."

... ouch ...!!

"Gone With the Wind ... is, I think, a made up story. It is about some silly people in big house and about a war. I don't think I will ever finish it ..."

... double ouch ...!!

Tevis imagines a world about 400 years in the future, where the programming of AIs intended to preserve and protect humanity has resulted in the catastrophic dumbing down of the survivors, the end of natural human reproduction, and the collapse of infrastructure and basic tools. (The only things dumber than most of the surviving humans are the low-level robots, who are casually referred to as "morons.") Only a few robots like Spofforth --a "Make Nine," the highest level created-- were programmed with any agency, foresight, and real intelligence, but also with a fatal flaw: all they really want to do is die. And most of the few created have been frighteningly successful at that: Spofforth (who was the unlucky recipient of a last-minute patch that doesn't allow him to kill himself) is the only Make Nine that survives.

Into this dying world comes a man who has rediscovered reading. And a young woman who has discovered that she doesn't have to follow the robots' rules ...

It doesn't make a lot of sense, but for anyone who seriously fears for the intelligence of the species, it's a powerful little metaphor. To be fair to Tevis, his hints at some of the history of the 400-odd years intervening between its publication and the events in the novel make the desperate conditions have come to pass almost plausible-- it isn't entirely a literary fantasy.

So I would recommend this, very highly -- if you like Literary SF. And you despair for the human race. And if you would like to believe that Reading might be the salvation of us all ...

A couple of asides ...

First, full marks to Tevis for making two of the strongest, best realized characters a person of color (Spofforth) and a woman (Mary Lou). But sometimes that creaks, just a little. Someone should have told Tevis that Mary Lou didn't need Spofforth to find baby milk and bottles when her baby is born. Sorry, mate, ladies have been taking care of that sort of things for themselves, without the aid of robots, for many, many years ....

And second, Biff the cat. Do you think Tevis ever met a cat? Biff is like no cat I've ever known. Just sayin' ... ( )
  maura853 | Jul 11, 2021 |
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
—T. S. Eliot (The Hollow Men)

In a grim yet quiet future, humanity is slowly dying out as each individual sinks further into themselves and togetherness is seen as a shameful violation of privacy. One man stumbles across the ancient art of reading and finds his perspective shaken. One woman, who deliberately slipped through the cracks years ago, is going to destroy it entirely. Her intellect, his sensitivity, and the suicidal longings of an android unable to forget anything will determine the ultimate fate of the species.

Readers should be advised there is a single, casual, racist use of "Indian" in this book in reference to the Indigenous peoples of North America. ( )
  Zoes_Human | May 8, 2021 |
Couldn't do it. Hit a wall within the first 20 pages and set it aside.

To be clear, I *adored* Steps of the Sun by Tevis - it is one of my favorites. Since that book features an intensely unlikable asshole protagonist that you have to suffer through sitting with for plenty of pages before the intensely satisfying payoff kicks in, I was prepared give Mockingbird an honest shot, simply because I trust the storyteller. And while I can't be certain, I strongly suspect that it was a matter of my timing in picking it up that made me put it down. That timing? The very beginning of the Pandemic.

While a story about a society of superficial bliss ninnies who are facing imminent destruction as a direct result of their having lost all capacity for critical thinking and respect for science due to having been intentionally kept awash in a sea of distraction for the purposes of keeping them controllable may sound suuuuuuper topical, I do not recommend it.

(Though if you are in search of a sci-fi novel that is echoing current events with frightening prescience, go read Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower. For real. More people need to).
  CrickWitch | Aug 15, 2020 |
There was an interesting setup - a superintelligent android, the man who rediscovered reading, a woman who refused to take the mind-control drugs - but there wasn't the payoff in the end that I was hoping for. The long stretches of diary entries by Paul felt like filler in places, not really fitting in to the rest of the story in any way that led somewhere. I think you are supposed to admire the way he reinvents the emotions of love and compassion for himself, but too much of it comes of as kind of obtuse. Probably for its time the way love and sex were depicted in the book were provocative although it's hard to see them that way now. For a dystopian novel there was a lot less of the atmosphere of doom around our characters than most because of the general breakdown in systems that felt to me like it didn't gibe with the idea of a superintelligent being. Perhaps it was the suicidal tendencies that Spofford harbored that ended up being expressed in the world he was supposed to take care of. ( )
  rmagahiz | Jul 9, 2020 |
I chose not to read this based on an allegorical bent, and instead chose to enjoy the oh so clear voice of the Robot Who Would End Humanity. Of course, he'd do so only because it seems to be the only way to circumvent his programming to live to serve humanity, but them's the breaks, right, humans?

Lol, no, this isn't a biting satire of us like the inestimable [b:Roderick|845587|Roderick|John Sladek|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1386355505s/845587.jpg|831113], but it does have some wonderful punches built right in to the text.

First of all, don't let the whole christian reading (or non-reading) experience get us down. The later portions of the novel are full of pretty heavy-handed character surrogates of bible-thumpers minus the bibles, but that's just a thin veil to the real issue.

No one reads. At all. Humanity has lost the knack and is pushed along the pasture by the robots that tend them.

It first looks like a utopia, but of course it isn't, despite all the sex and drugs you might want, all your wants, satisfied. Hey... wasn't this all set up so all you proper christians can study the scripture? Ah well, human nature is what it is.

Too bad that our poor MC, an android designed to serve and make all the executive decisions happens to have no greater wish than to die. His long game is very impressive, but things don't always turn out the way it is planned. He falls in love with one of the last women.

In 1980, when this was published, marks a rush of a brand new torrent of SF focused not only on hard-hitting ideas, but great combinations of plot, characterizations, and interesting worlds. The quality is on the rise. And this one is pretty awesome when it comes to the quality. Very readable, very strong voice for the narrator.

My problem with it is pretty simple, unfortunately. I don't agree with the premises. *shrug* I don't think that we'll ever stop reading. :) Oh, and I don't think that any religion can maintain itself without it, and that's including all the help from the substandard robots. Not every robot is built quite like the MC, after all. :)

Otherwise, I loved it. :) This is my second Walter Tevis and it was kinda surprising to learn that, since I had read [b:The Man Who Fell to Earth|396329|The Man Who Fell to Earth|Walter Tevis|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1320467516s/396329.jpg|313881] years and years ago and loved it, primarily because I saw the movie with Bowie and loved it, too. :) It's odd how these things turn out. :)
( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (19 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Walter Tevisprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Harman, DominicOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Marcellino, FredOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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In a world where the human population has suffered devastating losses, a handful of survivors cling to what passes for life in a post-apocalyptic, dying landscape. A world where humans wander, drugged and lulled by electronic bliss. A dying world of no children and no art, where reading is forbidden. And a strange love triangle: Spofforth, who runs the world, the most perfect machine ever created, whose only wish is to die; and Paul and Mary Lou, a man and a woman whose passion for each other is the only hope for the future of human beings on earth. An elegiac dystopia of mankind coming to terms with its own imminent extinction, Mockingbird was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novel.

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