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Read Metropolitan (1996)

Metropolitan (1996)

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3.8 of 5 Votes: 1
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0061054410 (ISBN13: 9780061054419)

Metropolitan (1996) - Plot & Excerpts

There are three scientific factors that are important to the world: the metropolis, the shield and plasm. (You can read more about them at my blog review: of these ideas had merit but none of them fully worked for me. The gigantic planet sized city had the most potential and most everything connected to it worked. So the idea that buildings built on top of other buildings on top of other buildings creating their own energy makes a kind of sense to me. The idea of a shield around the planet doesn’t. At least not as explained. It seems to come out of nowhere. I did appreciate that he tried to connect any explanations to plot elements and happenings but many times I felt I got a bunch of extra details I didn’t need at the time. This is when contrivance comes out to play and it’s appearance does not make for happy readers.So from a hard science aspect I didn’t get my friend’s thought that I would get anything from it. Also since it failed from the hard science idea aspect I kind of felt like this whole idea would have been better spent in some kind of fantasy world. During my research for the post I found on Wikipedia it said Metropolitan was arcanepunk: “Arcanepunk refers to a fantasy world where both magic and science exist.” Huh? This didn’t feel like a fantasy world to me in the least, though the idea would fit into that kind of world.In fact, the world didn’t work to me either because it felt rather reminiscent of the 50s sort of hard science literature. At first, I thought maybe it was written in the 70s from the book cover. It wasn’t until I was doing research for this post that I realized the book was published in 1995. This fact made the hard science aspect fail even more so as it wasn’t written that long ago. I think it’s appalling that I couldn’t tell that this was a fantasy world or that it used hard science facts from 1995! These are major aspects of the world that just didn’t make sense.I was really open to this book because I wanted to like it. I wanted to be able to suggest to my friend that he read it and enjoy the purchase he had made. In the end though I could not do so.In the positive, I started out really liking the character, Aiah. She sounded like a supremely modern person, struggling with financial difficulties, a dislike of her really practical job and a marriage on the rocks due to separation and the #1 reason for divorce, money. (view spoiler)[She is a bit of an outcast in her own society because she turned her back on their ways to take up with the currently reining society and their people and ways. With not enough money to fully go the route she’d like she settled on marrying a guy she thought she loved and a job she thought she could tolerate to get out of the life she grew up in. (hide spoiler)]

4.5 StarsWhat an amazingly  original piece of what could be best described as hard-fantasy. This novel is a hybrid cross of fantasy and science fiction. Much of it plays out like a cyberpunk novel, while at other times it feels like a steampunk alternate universe story. This is not an action based novel, nor is it a dialogue type novel. It is a superb piece of world building. Walter John Williams meticulously crafts an alternate world where Plasm(sort of like electricity)is a priceless commodity for mages. This world is inhabited by people, by god like "Ascended Ones", by  genetically enhanced men, and even some sentient dolphins.The whole concept of plasm for magic is really cool:"And  the power – plasm – resonates within the human mind. It is susceptible to control by the odd little particules of human will, and once controlled, can do almost anything – on the small, microcosmic  end, plasm can cure illnesses, alter genes, halt or reverse aging, create precious metals from base matter and radioisotopes from precious metals.  On the macrocosmic and plasm can create life, any kind of life a person can think of, can  invade a target mind, destroy a person's will and make him a puppet for the manipulator, can burnout nerves or turn living bones to carbon ash, turn hatred to love or love to hate, can wreak death in any number of obscene forms, can fling missiles or bombs or people anywhere in the world, all in a snap of the fingers..." Aiah is a good female lead that I would like to know more about. It is strange to me that even though she is basically the only point of view, we are never really let into her inner psyche. We needed more backstory on her and her family, and maybe the second book will shed more light. Although I liked Aiah, I fear that she may be forgettable.Williams writing is outstanding. He takes world building and makes it the focus of this original story. I would have liked more action, but as an intellectual and  social study type story, it worked. This book felt like Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, and that is a good thing. I wish he would have penned more action as the few parts that he did, are all very good."She walks down Bursary Street,flame shooting from her fingertips. People scream and wither and die. Buildings explode outward at a wave of her arm. Glass shatters at her scream. Power rolls in her bones like a lake of fire."I will remember this book because of its originality. It is a rare form of hard level fantasy. I will definitely read the sequel and highly recommend this book to fantasy readers that do not need all scenes to be blood, magic, and killings.

What do You think about Metropolitan (1996)?

An excellent hard-fantasy novel. In a world that may be far-future Earth, the world is surrounded by an impenetrable shield (the glow from which provides the heat and light the world needs) civilization depends on the magical substance "plasm" which powers magic (and accumulates in pools depending on the geometry nearby structures. But this magic doesn't mean that there are wizards and swordsmen around - rather, there is magical technology, metering out the limited supply of plasm to people who can pay for it. When our heroine, a low-level bureaucrat for the local plasm authority, discovers a previously undiscovered vast supply of plasm, she has the chance to change her life, and throws in with a deposed aristocrat (a Metropolitan - so-called because the city-state is the largest form of government in this crowded, history filled world) who has a reputation for being forward-thinking, and soon finds her life completely out of her control.I enjoyed this book very much - the sense of an ancient, tired, constrained world, where the sense that everything has been done drives the protagonist to seek something new was conveyed very well, as was her status as a permanent outsider (as a member of an ethnic group whose city had been destroyed, leaving them all as refugees, and salving their pride with cultural myths about their group's (supposed) preternatural cunning). The sequel was also great - I'd love to see the originally planned third book, but I'm not sure it will ever happen.
—Andy Love

It's a wonderfully, original story that is a cross of fantasy and science fiction. The little nuances and attention to detail that Williams gives is a breath of fresh air. At times you think the relationship between Aiah and her family is pointless, but you soon realize that Williams is doing an excellent job in character development as well as refining the softer/peripheral points of the reality he has created. I loved the way the people communicated with their little ethnic idiosyncrasies of "ne" "da" and the background in the history and religion and cultural diversities. All of it was delivered in a way that showed Williams really put some thought into fleshing out his little world. I can't wait to dig into the 2nd book.

Williams has made a wonderfully put together world that moves shakesand flushes. People use plasm left and right to fix wounds & fatiguein the sprawling city world. Plasm is like what the electric companysupplies to work your household needs, but hospitals use this energytoo. Plasm can be used with a projection of the mind to sneak aroundinvisible or manifest yourself in a flaming 10 story tall person onfire as the first few sentences describe a victim. Some people suckon it all day and over the years mutate into hanged men, saucer eyedtwistos or slugs with lips. All hinted at...He has a problem with working out what he's going to do with thiswell put together world except maybe write steam-lined story, droppingany side conspiracies, or a sequel. Sub plots come and go quickly,she grins thru them getting on and ahead in her life. She goes fromhovelhole to eating rare fruit without a thought to money. You meetdifferent police types, introduced to new strange figures (in a fewparagraphs then.....poof! gone.), and get taken everyday thru theghetto where the main character lives by the hand. She's working forthe authority who manages plasm for the masses and has to investigatepeople tapping into stray or regulated plasm. She has a big problemwith the govt. being a minority and would like the world to bedifferent/better, I think mostly she's out for herself although younever really....know....what the heck she is really thinking. I mighthate her more. She glides thru this book like it was easy as pie(usually like a full blown 2 faced wishy-washy jerk who makes 'passu'of people: rungs to success via lies) being who she is even thoughshe is catastrophic in the book-scope and plot.I loved how Williams paints this gut ugly future world with it'sbronze net over it (catching stray plots, unfortunately ... and theplasm) and want to read the follow up book to this. I wish wecould've followed his little stray plot with keys to the armory sothere would've been more showdowns and bizarrities. Go to the volcano, look around, come back. I hope all this great foundationlaying in METROPOLITAN is leading to something even better (ie: book2), because if it isn't.....heads will roll!!
—Invadozer Saphenousnerves Circular-thallus Popewaffensquat

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