Books by Geoff Ryman

AIR by Geoff Ryman
Released: Dec. 1, 2003

"Not always compelling as fiction, then, but containing many a worthy insight about how the world will be dragged further into the Information Age, like it or not."
Like the Internet, only more so. Read full book review >
LUST by Geoff Ryman
Released: Aug. 6, 2003

"Not, therefore, Ryman's best, but a risky, highly imaginative addition to a unique and valuable body of work."
A research biologist explores the parameters of love, sex, and creativity in this inventive, inordinately busy latest from the provocative British author (253, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
253 by Geoff Ryman
Released: Sept. 14, 1998

An inventive parody of information retrieval, by the ever-amazing author of, among others, Was (1992), a revisionist modern version of The Wizard of Oz. Experimentalist Ryman here out-hops Julio Cort†zar's 1966 novel Hopscotch (whose dozens of chapters could be read in any order). This time, he offers 253 character sketches of passengers aboard a tube train going from London's Embankment station and passing under the Thames to Elephant & Castle—a trip that takes seven-and-a-half-minutes. Apparently first created and published on the Internet, the present "print remix" mocks and mimics both computers and writers— handbooks, featuring several amusingly parodic ads (—BECOME A WRITER IN YOUR SPARE TIME!—) and PERSONALS ("Swings both ways . . . male or female makes no difference to this post office counter worker . . .—). The book opens with a description of itself——THIS IS AN EZI-ACCESS NOVEL——and it is indeed reader-friendly, offering no tediously interminable descriptions, no complicated assembly instructions, and no batteries, though the self-description is followed by blurbs for Ryman's earlier works, then by explanations (—Why the Title?—), as well as by —helpful and informative footnotes— and the culminating ad —At last! The book that thinks for itself! How often have you been embarrassed when serious fiction is discussed at the office?—In short, the book is about itself and its own creation, ending with a Reader Satisfaction Survey and an offer to include your own versions of Ryman's mode of character-sketching in his sequel (send to Ryman's website, no payment tendered). There's no plot to speak of, only a sense of utterly serious description balanced with witty bromides that build to a vaguely exciting climax not to be revealed here, although you may read any of the 253 sketches (each 253 words long) in any order you please. Thank Thornton Wilder's The Bridge at San Luis Rey and Joyce's Ulysses for this kind of playful survey novel. Ryman is no Joyce, but he has his own eye and soul to offer. Surplus originality! MAY LAST THIRTY YEARS! TRY IT! Read full book review >
Released: April 21, 1994

Four novellas, two previously unpublished, from the author of the acclaimed Was (1992) and The Child Garden (1990). ``The Unconquered Country'' (1986), Ryman's allegorical dark fantasy about Cambodia and Vietnam, has previously appeared as a book in its own right. ``O Happy Day!'' (1985), a tale of sociobiology and feminist backlash, features a transit camp run by homosexual men to which trainloads of males are dispatched for extermination by the feminists now controlling the country. In the longest tale, ``A Fall of Angels,'' disembodied minds, the ``Angels,'' strive to rejuvenate a dying red sun by feeding it hydrogen and thus save a nearby planet's colonists from extinction; in the process the Angels are ordered to exterminate a unique and intelligent creature that lives inside the sun itself. ``Fan,'' the other unpublished story, examines the media, pop icons, and their growing influence on our lives, as a fan of an Irish singer discovers ultimately that he exists only as a computer simulation. Readers with a penchant for signs, symbols, cultural icons, or political extrapolation will find much to admire here. Others will note the artificially heightened prose, the clever mechanics, the polished inventiveness, the ulterior meanings, and they will remain emotionally unmoved. Read full book review >
WAS by Geoff Ryman
Released: May 29, 1992

The Scarecrow of Oz dying of AIDS in Santa Monica? Uncle Henry a child abuser? Dorothy, grown old and crazy, wearing out her last days in a Kansas nursing home? It's all here, in this magically revisionist fantasy on the themes from The Wizard of Oz. For Dorothy Gael (not a misprint), life with Uncle Henry and Aunty Em is no bed of roses: Bible-thumping Emma Gulch is as austere (though not as nasty) as Margaret Hamilton, and her foul- smelling husband's sexual assaults send his unhappy niece over the line into helpless rage at her own wickedness and sullen bullying of the other pupils in nearby Manhattan, Kansas. Despite a brush with salvation (represented by substitute teacher L. Frank Baum), she spirals down to madness courtesy of a climactic twister, only to emerge 70 years later as Dynamite Dottie, terror of her nursing home, where youthful orderly Bill Davison, pierced by her zest for making snow angels and her visions of a happiness she never lived, throws over his joyless fiancÇe and becomes a psychological therapist. Meanwhile, in intervening episodes in 1927 and 1939, Frances Gumm loses her family and her sense of self as she's transformed into The Kid, Judy Garland; and between 1956 and 1989, a little boy named Jonathan, whose imaginary childhood friends were the Oz people, grows up to have his chance to play the Scarecrow dashed by the AIDS that will draw him to Kansas—with counselor Davison in pursuit—in the hope of finding Dorothy's 1880's home and making it, however briefly, his own. This tale of homes lost and sought, potentially so sentimental, gets a powerful charge from Ryman's patient use of homely detail in establishing Dorothy's and Jonathan's childhood perspectives, and from the shocking effects of transforming cultural icons, especially in detailing Dorothy's sexual abuse. Science-fiction author Ryman (The Child Garden, 1990) takes a giant step forward with this mixture of history, fantasy, and cultural myth—all yoked together by the question of whether you can ever really go home. Read full book review >