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Sputnik Caledonia Tekijä: Andrew Crumey
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Sputnik Caledonia (vuoden 2008 painos)

Tekijä: Andrew Crumey (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1014273,894 (3.75)8
Sputnik Caledonia was awarded the prestigious Northern Rock Foundation Writer's Award and was shortlisted for The James Tait Black Prize and The Scottish Book of the Year Award. Robbie Coyle is an imaginative kid. He wants so badly to become Scotland's first cosmonaut that he tries to teach himself Russian and trains for space exploration in the cupboard under the sink. But the eplaces to which his fantasies later take him is far from the safety of his suburban childhood. In a communist state, in a closed bleak town, the mysterious Red Star heralds his discovery of cruelty and of love, and the possibility that the most passionate of dreams may only be a chimera... 'This a surprisingly moving novel about the impersonal forces - be they political, quantum, temporal or otherwise - that can threaten or shatter the bonds of love, and of family life. Never has astrophysics seemed so touching and funny.' Sinclair McKay in The Daily Telegraph 'a stimulating read, full of political, philosophical and scientific thought experiments.'?Jonathan Gibbs in The Independent Andrew Crumey was born in Glasgow in 1961. He read theoretical physics and mathematics at St Andrews University and Imperial College in London, before doing post-doctoral research at Leeds University on nonlinear dynamics. After a spell of being the literary editor at Scotland on Sunday he now combines teaching creative writing at Northumbria University with his writing. He is the author of seven novels: Music, in a Foreign Language (1994), Pfitz (1995), D'Alembert's Principle (1996), Mr Mee (2000, Dedalus edition 2014), Mobius Dick (2004, Dedalus edition 2014) Sputnik Caledonia( 2008, Dedalus edition forthcoming in 2015)) and The Secret Knowledge (2013). Andrew Crumey's novels have been translated into 14 languages.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:iamjessicaregilio
Teoksen nimi:Sputnik Caledonia
Kirjailijat:Andrew Crumey (Tekijä)
Info:Pan Macmillan (2008), 312 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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Sputnik Caledonia (tekijä: Andrew Crumey)

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    Lanark (tekijä: Alasdair Gray) (alzo)
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näyttää 4/4
I normally read science fiction but this mainstream novel looked interesting for a number of reasons. It was set in the early Sixties, which I grew up in. It was located in Scotland where I now live.And it did appear to involve 'alternate worlds', linked to relativity theory, which is a common theme in science fiction.

The novel is in three distinct sections. The first centres on Robbie Coyle, who is fixated on technology, especially anything to do with space exploration. His Dad is a shop steward and socialist, so Robbie wants to be a Cosmonaut, rather than be a NASA astronaut. The family radio is the main device, which they all listen to as a group tuning into programs in English from different stations around Europe. The best moment for Robbie is when this radio is moved into his room, to make way for a new one. Now he can roam the airwaves searching for strange broadcasts...He is though already in contact with aliens, known as 'girls'. His elder sister treats him like dirt, as do the two girls who live next door. To make things worse, the family next door are upwardly mobile and give the Coyles a real sense of inferiority.

The second section is set in an alternate Scotland. It seems Britain, in league with the USSR, defeated the Nazis and became a socialist republic. Robbie Coyle wakes up in an army hospital, having no memory of how he got there. He has volunteered for a special mission: to contact the Red Star, a seeming alien device which is passing through the Solar System. But things are very bleak in this socialist 'paradise'. Secret police are everywhere. Everything is in short supply. And morals are lax since the base Robbie is stationed at contains a brothel, staffed by girls suspected of being dissidents. Robbie falls in love with Dora, one of these girls. He gradually rebels against his mission, as the madness of the chief scientist who is planning the mission (which will be one way only) is gradually revealed, along with the non-scientific methods employed (ESP, yoga and sexual stimulation) by his female deputy.

The final section sees the Coyles old and childless, their daughter having broken contact with them and Robbie having died many years ago in an accident in the grounds of a now disused research lab, yet someone using his name seems to be abroad. I especially enjoyed the rants of the elder Mr Coyle regarding such things as the profligate use of red elastic bands by postmen...

A drowning in a nearby river claims different lives in the different timelines and seems to be the cause of the reality switches. To my mind the 'realistic' parts did not need, or benefit from, the more 'science fictional' elements, while these latter, since the 'scientists' themselves are a strange bunch working for a heartless regime that merely parrots support for 'science', seemed more like props rather than believable phenomena. All in all a rather sad novel which sees hopes for the future dashed... ( )
  AlanPoulter | Oct 21, 2011 |
In the first part of the novel a shy boy called Robbie Coyle is growing up in a village called Kenzie in 1960s Scotland with the ambition of going into space. Since his father is an ardent socialist and anti-American Robbie therefore wants to be a cosmonaut. A frequent attender at his local library, he devours knowledge about the Soviet Union and discovers that “Russian is a language where some letters are written back to front and others are completely made up.” Quotes such as this display Crumey’s excellent ability to inhabit the world of a pre-adolescent. As he matures he starts to hear a voice in his head. The section ends with that voice saying, “I guess we’re not in Kenzie any more.”

The story then flips into a scenario of a Soviet-style Britain where a young adult Robert Coyle has been recruited into a space project to reach, before the wicked capitalists do so, what is possibly a black hole travelling through the solar system. The secret “Installation” where Robert is in training is suitably grim, the illustrations of the many compromises people have to make in such a society convincing, though whether dissidents could flourish there is another question. Perhaps this exists in the same British Democratic Republic which featured in the author’s Mobius Dick.

This central section could be considered an Altered History novel where the Jonbar Hinge lies in whether or not a man named Deuchar died while trying to rescue twins from drowning many years before the time the action is set. Yet its juxtaposition with the preceding and following parts, set in the “real” world, argues against this. And Crumey’s treatment of his subject matter does not have the feel of SF. The Soviet section can be read to be implicitly a figment of Robbie’s imagination. The subtlety of the point of divergence also marks this out from SF treatments of Altered Worlds. While Crumey pushes credibility a little by having characters in the central section behave and speak, or have the same names as, those in the book-end segments he does certainly avoid the trap into which Philip Roth fell in The Plot Against America of restoring the altered world to normal by the end.

The coda, a (present day?) exploration of the situation of Robbie’s ageing parents and a young boy who meets a mysterious stranger on a mission (which he is unwilling to explain) provides counterpoint and a resolution of sorts.

Sputnik Caledonia is excellently written and engaging, with convincing characters, but not quite as full of verve as Mobius Dick. ( )
  jackdeighton | Jul 31, 2011 |
For better or worse, I often judge books by their covers, which is what initially drew me to Sputnik Caledonia. The book gets off to a great start. Robbie Coyle lives in Kenzie, a Scottish suburb, in the 70s. He has a vivid imagination and dreams of joining the Russian cosmonaut program; he also drifts off into his daydreams, has a tendency to wet his bed, and is seen as a bit of a loner, weird kid by his peers. His father is a rather cranky conspiracy theorist with Communist leanings; his mother is more upbeat, rolls her eyes when the father gets started and provides a more balanced counter to the father. This section of the book develops interesting characters and is a wonderfully written slice of life. We get hints of things being slightly awry, for example, when Robbie hears voices through an old bakelite radio.

(POSSIBLE SPOILER, OR AT LEAST FURTHER DETAILS) Then come the 2nd and 3rd parts. The 2nd part jumps 'ahead' to the Installation, where a 20ish year old Robert Coyle has been recruited from the military to join this highly secret, experimental mission; even he and the other recruits are not told much about the program. This is where the science fiction/alternate reality really kicks in. The Installation is in Scotland, but very cordoned off from its surroundings; higher-ranked residents have their own vouchers instead of money, can't discuss their jobs with lower ranks, and find release, well, of all kinds at the Blue Cat. This is an alternate Scotland, where Communism has prevailed and a space program is being developed. Without giving too much away, the 3rd part shifts yet again. (END)

Again, I loved the 1st part of this book. I was less enamored of the 2nd part. The alternate reality is interesting, and the parallels to stories of life behind the Iron Curtain are clear. The 3rd part leaves the reader with a lot to debate in terms of what actually has happened. These are all positive points. It just felt that the writing and the characters so wonderfully drawn and captured in the 1st part get lost in the more strident, even stream-of-consciousness latter sections. The new characters in these sections just don't have the same depth. That said, it did leave me still thinking about it for several days and wanting to talk about it with others. ( )
  ljbwell | Sep 18, 2010 |
You can tell that the author studied Theoretical Physics to doctorate level. But don't let that put you off.

The first section is a beautifully rendered depiction of Scotland in the 1970s, where young Robbie Coyle is just beginning to get to grips with socialism, Top of the Pops, Dr Who, girls and The Meaning of Relativity by Einstein. Terrifically funny and achingly sad by turns, the first section ends with Robbie's first snog in the church hall storeroom.

Part two takes off into a parallel universe; recognisably still Scotland but bizarrely different, an alternative reality in which Robbie is suddenly ten years older and on the short list for a space mission planned to explore an approaching black hole.

The dislocation and night-marish qualities of this section echoed Alasdair Gray's Unthank, and the world Andrew Crumey creates is just as completely realised, deeply detailed and surprisingly tangible as that which Duncan Thaw inhabits.

Then we are back in the present-day and what seems to be normal life. Robbie has vanished from the narrative and it is not until near the end of the book that we discover what has happened to him. There are hints about the middle section and more puzzles to come, leaving the reader to tease out their own interpretation of events. I suspect this may frustrate some readers, but I have a feeling that Sputnik Caledonia will come to be regarded as one of the essentials of Scottish literature. ( )
2 ääni cdmc | Nov 13, 2008 |
näyttää 4/4
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

Sputnik Caledonia was awarded the prestigious Northern Rock Foundation Writer's Award and was shortlisted for The James Tait Black Prize and The Scottish Book of the Year Award. Robbie Coyle is an imaginative kid. He wants so badly to become Scotland's first cosmonaut that he tries to teach himself Russian and trains for space exploration in the cupboard under the sink. But the eplaces to which his fantasies later take him is far from the safety of his suburban childhood. In a communist state, in a closed bleak town, the mysterious Red Star heralds his discovery of cruelty and of love, and the possibility that the most passionate of dreams may only be a chimera... 'This a surprisingly moving novel about the impersonal forces - be they political, quantum, temporal or otherwise - that can threaten or shatter the bonds of love, and of family life. Never has astrophysics seemed so touching and funny.' Sinclair McKay in The Daily Telegraph 'a stimulating read, full of political, philosophical and scientific thought experiments.'?Jonathan Gibbs in The Independent Andrew Crumey was born in Glasgow in 1961. He read theoretical physics and mathematics at St Andrews University and Imperial College in London, before doing post-doctoral research at Leeds University on nonlinear dynamics. After a spell of being the literary editor at Scotland on Sunday he now combines teaching creative writing at Northumbria University with his writing. He is the author of seven novels: Music, in a Foreign Language (1994), Pfitz (1995), D'Alembert's Principle (1996), Mr Mee (2000, Dedalus edition 2014), Mobius Dick (2004, Dedalus edition 2014) Sputnik Caledonia( 2008, Dedalus edition forthcoming in 2015)) and The Secret Knowledge (2013). Andrew Crumey's novels have been translated into 14 languages.

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