By light alone adam roberts
By Light Alone by Adam RobertsIn a world where we have been genetically engineered so that we can photosynthesise sunlight with our hair hunger is a thing of the past, food an indulgence. The poor grow their hair, the rich affect baldness and flaunt their wealth by still eating. But other hungers remain...
The young daughter of an affluent New York family is kidnapped. The ransom demands are refused. Years later a young women arrives at the family home claiming to be their long lost daughter. She has changed so much, she has lived on light, can anyone be sure that she has come home? Adam Roberts new novel is yet another amazing melding of startling ideas and beautiful prose. Set in a New York of the future it nevertheless has echoes of a Fitzgeraldesque affluence and art-deco style. It charts his further progress as one of the most important writers of his generation.
TEDxHull - Adam Roberts - Science Fiction as Poetry
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You know zombie movies, yeah? Zombie movies? There are no zombies, but the world has most definitely gone to shit. This may be painfully obvious to the reader, but the rich, self-centred protagonists, sealed off in the hermetic paradise of uber-affluent Manhattan, have no idea about the true state of things — reading the news, you see, has become distinctly unfashionable. By Light Alone is set ish years from now, when humans have genetically engineered the ability to photosynthesize through their hair, thus eliminating the need for food.
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To take one example in By Light Alone , by undergoing the appropriate gene modification and then growing their hair long, it has become possible for people to photosynthesize and thus avoid starvation. First — and this is in itself overtly science-fictional — he suggests the practical downsides to the ability to photosynthesise, such as how long it might take to feed, how easy it is to kill someone by shaving cutting off their hair and, most significantly for this novel, how photosynthesis can only support life to a particular degree. Which in turn leads to a need for women to work in order to earn money and food while men need to do very little. But this is revealed only later. To begin with, the reader explores this post-catastrophic world through the eyes of George and Marie, a wealthy couple with two children, Leah and Ezra. To take notice of the news is considered vulgar.
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you re a badass book review
If you're bald, then you had better be rich
None of his novels have, for me, ever quite delivered what I have always believed he is capable of achieving, but some of them have contained moments of astonishing writing — for example the falling spaceman sequence in Gradisil. In By Light Alone he delivers a more successfully rounded novel. The book returns to a trick that he used in Gradisil , which is that rather than tell a linear story he splits the novel up into four parts, focussing on four different characters who rather circle around the plot rather than charge straight through it. The first section tells the story from the point of view of George — rich, fat, complacent — who must deal with the abduction of his daughter Leah and her subsequent recovery, eleven months later. Finally we see the world from the point of view of Issa, one of the underclass, as she survives traumatic events to make her way to New York where apocalyptic events ensue.
He is rare in the genre for eschewing series of recurring characters and worlds, and instead writing one-off books in which he takes an idea, batters it senseless until it is bloody, beaten and unusable by any other writer, and leaves his readers in a state of stunned shock. But however high the concepts he makes his own, they are never at the expense of character, and in By Light Alone, like all of Roberts' recent works, the people make the big ideas leap off the page. The central conceit is that, a century or so hence, hunger has been eradicated thanks to a treatment that allows human beings to absorb, through their hair, all of the nutrients that they need from sunlight. People can live by light alone. But rather than ushering in a utopian golden age, this scientific leap has served only to widen the gulf between the rich and the poor.