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Past Master af R. A. Lafferty
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Past Master (original 1968; udgave 1982)

af R. A. Lafferty (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
465854,436 (3.43)11
Plucked from time, Sir Thomas More arrives on the human colony of Astrobe in the year 2535 A.D., where there is trouble in utopia- can he and his motley followers save this golden world from the Programmed Persons, and the soulless perfection they have engineered? The survival of faith itself is at stake in this thrilling, uncategorizable, wildly inventive first novel--but the adventure is more than one of ideas. As astonishingly as Philip K. Dick and other visionaries of the 1960s new wave, Lafferty turns the conventions of space-opera science fiction upside-down and inside-out. Here are fractured allegories, tales-within-tales, twinkle-in-the-eye surprises, fantastic byways, and alien subjectivities that take one's breath away. Neil Gaiman has described Lafferty "a genius, an oddball, a madman"; Gene Wolfe calls him "our most original writer." Past Master, long-hailed by insiders and now presented in authoritative form, with an introduction by Andrew Ferguson and unpublished omitted passages included in the notes, deserves to perplex and delight a wider audience.… (mere)
Medlem:parkerandallison
Titel:Past Master
Forfattere:R. A. Lafferty (Forfatter)
Info:Ace (1955), 256 pages
Samlinger:Library, Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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Past Master af R. A. Lafferty (1968)

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» Se også 11 omtaler

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It's crazy! It's been around ten years since I read Thomas More's [b:Utopia|18414|Utopia|Thomas More|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348970806s/18414.jpg|2798280]. But of course I remember "A Man For All Seasons," both the movie and a community theater version. Well, this novel is a "false utopian" story full of what I am discovering is Lafferty's delightfully fruity style and strong opinions about human nature. The novel opens on a future world which is modeled after More's Utopia...and More is quickly retrieved through time to help lead/save/grok the troubled paradise.

I noted several similarities with [b:Watch the North Wind Rise|1215992|Watch the North Wind Rise|Robert Graves|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1346702132s/1215992.jpg|1204453], but this is written in a style I found both more obscure and more fun.

The book also has human-form Cylons (called "Programmed People" here) who mix and reproduce with humans. ( )
  grahzny | Jul 17, 2023 |
Is a Perfect World Possible, or Even Wanted?

Speculative and science fiction have proven fine places to explore many large topics, such as the perfectibility or imperfectability of humanity, the commodiousness of utopian society or the brutality of dystopian ones. Thinkers have pondered on these and other topics like them all the way back to the ancient Greeks. But more to the point of R. A. Lafferty’s first novel, so did the English lawyer and devout Catholic Sir Thomas More. In 1516, More published Utopia, his satirical exploration of what people of that time might consider a perfect society, and thus launched a sub industry of speculation on what perfect societies might look like and what might be the fatal flaws that would ultimately destroy them.

And it is this that Lafferty, a writer, by evidence of this novel, given to extravagant language and imagery, focuses on. He places More on a utopian world with features of his own creation from Utopia. Called Astrobe, or Golden Astrobe in tribute to its magnificence, it is coming apart at its seams owing to its own inherent flaws, among them a lack of faith in a higher power, a life of ease without challenge and purpose, and most disturbing, a life without individuality that perhaps only a Borg would cherish. The three contentious leaders of this world pluck More from history, citing his credentials as a man who had at least one honest moment in his life (his refusal, along with Cardinal John Fisher, to sign onto Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy laws and all that flowed from them). Readers will recognize how highly ironic the choice of the leaders from the beginning, because their intention was to use More as a likable figurehead while pursuing their own designs and imposing their own wills, failing, of course, to reckon More a man of iron will. In short, he lost his head once to principle and belief and he would happily do so again.

Intellectually, patient readers will find Lafferty’s novel rich and quite rewarding, though perhaps more in the afterglow of contemplation than in the present act of cutting through it. Saying above that Lafferty employs elaborate language and imagery is no elaboration. These pages are thick with encounters, battles, and long dialogues. They bounce from the golden pleasures of Astrobe the ideal, to the squalid worlds populated by those fleeing its sterility and banality. Better to toil until your lungs spout blood and your life ends in puddles of muck, because at least you feel something of what life could be. Thinking of Golden Astrobe you would be justified in thinking of anesthetized life in Brave New World, to give you a marker. Here, in fact, so alien is the ideal of Astrobe that the leaders had to create programmed killers to seek out and destroy dissenters. Astrobe’s core problem will be very clear to readers, so clear they surely will find it hard to believe that the Astrobian’s can’t detect it for themselves. But, then, when you are encapsulated in an illusion, or the fog of a situation, it’s hard to penetrate beyond its boundaries.

In the end, More loses his head in two worlds, and Astrobe, the third iteration of humankind’s quest for the perfect society, ceases. Yet, that’s the thing about humans, they are forever hopeful, and so Lafferty pulls down the curtain on Astrobe and More with hope of a better new world.

If you are up for a bit of challenging reading, if you find pleasure in intellectualizing about perfect worlds, if you enjoy reading text that sometimes takes lefts and loses you for a while, if you like any of this stuff, give Past Master a try. Otherwise, avoid it, unless you also love frustrating yourself to no end. ( )
1 stem write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Is a Perfect World Possible, or Even Wanted?

Speculative and science fiction have proven fine places to explore many large topics, such as the perfectibility or imperfectability of humanity, the commodiousness of utopian society or the brutality of dystopian ones. Thinkers have pondered on these and other topics like them all the way back to the ancient Greeks. But more to the point of R. A. Lafferty’s first novel, so did the English lawyer and devout Catholic Sir Thomas More. In 1516, More published Utopia, his satirical exploration of what people of that time might consider a perfect society, and thus launched a sub industry of speculation on what perfect societies might look like and what might be the fatal flaws that would ultimately destroy them.

And it is this that Lafferty, a writer, by evidence of this novel, given to extravagant language and imagery, focuses on. He places More on a utopian world with features of his own creation from Utopia. Called Astrobe, or Golden Astrobe in tribute to its magnificence, it is coming apart at its seams owing to its own inherent flaws, among them a lack of faith in a higher power, a life of ease without challenge and purpose, and most disturbing, a life without individuality that perhaps only a Borg would cherish. The three contentious leaders of this world pluck More from history, citing his credentials as a man who had at least one honest moment in his life (his refusal, along with Cardinal John Fisher, to sign onto Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy laws and all that flowed from them). Readers will recognize how highly ironic the choice of the leaders from the beginning, because their intention was to use More as a likable figurehead while pursuing their own designs and imposing their own wills, failing, of course, to reckon More a man of iron will. In short, he lost his head once to principle and belief and he would happily do so again.

Intellectually, patient readers will find Lafferty’s novel rich and quite rewarding, though perhaps more in the afterglow of contemplation than in the present act of cutting through it. Saying above that Lafferty employs elaborate language and imagery is no elaboration. These pages are thick with encounters, battles, and long dialogues. They bounce from the golden pleasures of Astrobe the ideal, to the squalid worlds populated by those fleeing its sterility and banality. Better to toil until your lungs spout blood and your life ends in puddles of muck, because at least you feel something of what life could be. Thinking of Golden Astrobe you would be justified in thinking of anesthetized life in Brave New World, to give you a marker. Here, in fact, so alien is the ideal of Astrobe that the leaders had to create programmed killers to seek out and destroy dissenters. Astrobe’s core problem will be very clear to readers, so clear they surely will find it hard to believe that the Astrobian’s can’t detect it for themselves. But, then, when you are encapsulated in an illusion, or the fog of a situation, it’s hard to penetrate beyond its boundaries.

In the end, More loses his head in two worlds, and Astrobe, the third iteration of humankind’s quest for the perfect society, ceases. Yet, that’s the thing about humans, they are forever hopeful, and so Lafferty pulls down the curtain on Astrobe and More with hope of a better new world.

If you are up for a bit of challenging reading, if you find pleasure in intellectualizing about perfect worlds, if you enjoy reading text that sometimes takes lefts and loses you for a while, if you like any of this stuff, give Past Master a try. Otherwise, avoid it, unless you also love frustrating yourself to no end. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Lafferty, R. A. Past Master. 1968. Orion, 2016.
R. A. Lafferty is known as a master of the short story, but Past Master, his first novel, earned him nominations for both the Hugo and Nebula awards. At the time, the novel’s style was compared to that of Alfred Bester and Cordwainer Smith, but Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal was published two years before Past Master, and the books have a similar mythopoeic scope. While Zelazny often draws on Asian religious imagery, Lafferty is firmly rooted in Christian mythos, so firmly, in fact, that I wondered if he wasn’t reversing some of the elements in James Blish’s A Case of Conscience (1958). In any case, it is New Wave stuff from a time when New Wave was really new, though I doubt that Lafferty would have seen it that way. His style was sui generis, and he knew it.
Here’s the setup. The leaders of a stagnant utopian society on the planet Astrobe are facing a machine-led revolt and feel they need a spiritual seed to inspire a new historical cycle. Their solution is to travel to the past, grab Thomas More just before he gets the chop, replace him with a doppelganger and put the creator of the original Utopia in charge of their high-tech utopia. It does not work out according to plan. Lafferty has fun debunking the masterminds who think they can run things and making us wonder whether sentient machines are better or worse than programmed people. Thomas More comes off as a character who gradually becomes aware of his on myth and does not approve. He is irascible and ultimately indomitable.
One cannot overestimate the influence on Lafferty of later writers. One wonders whether works like David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, or Dan Simmons’ Hyperion would exist without him. As for the novel, it has some first novel structural issues but still—4.5 stars from me. ( )
1 stem Tom-e | Sep 19, 2021 |
Due to his fame as creator of "Utopia", Sir Thomas More is recreated in the year 2535, when the government thinks he could contribute to the progress and better prospects of their time. It doesn't work out so very well. ( )
  DinadansFriend | May 25, 2019 |
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R. A. Laffertyprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Dillon, DianeOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Dillon, LeoOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Ferguson, AndrewIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Plucked from time, Sir Thomas More arrives on the human colony of Astrobe in the year 2535 A.D., where there is trouble in utopia- can he and his motley followers save this golden world from the Programmed Persons, and the soulless perfection they have engineered? The survival of faith itself is at stake in this thrilling, uncategorizable, wildly inventive first novel--but the adventure is more than one of ideas. As astonishingly as Philip K. Dick and other visionaries of the 1960s new wave, Lafferty turns the conventions of space-opera science fiction upside-down and inside-out. Here are fractured allegories, tales-within-tales, twinkle-in-the-eye surprises, fantastic byways, and alien subjectivities that take one's breath away. Neil Gaiman has described Lafferty "a genius, an oddball, a madman"; Gene Wolfe calls him "our most original writer." Past Master, long-hailed by insiders and now presented in authoritative form, with an introduction by Andrew Ferguson and unpublished omitted passages included in the notes, deserves to perplex and delight a wider audience.

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