Gnomon
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Gnomon

3.85 (90 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

A GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR 'Gnomon is an extraordinary novel, and one I can't stop thinking about some weeks after I read it. It is deeply troubling, magnificently strange, and an exhilarating read.' Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven `The best thing he's ever written ... It is an astonishing piece of construction, complex and witty ... It is a magnificent achievement ... He's never written a bad book, but this is the one that'll see him mentioned in the same breath as William Gibson and David Mitchell ... This book seriously just destroyed me with joy.' Warren Ellis `Nick Harkaway: bonkers, brilliant and hilarious ... Effervescent, clever and entirely fantastic.' Sunday Times `[Harkaway] is the missing, but somehow logical, link between David Mitchell and Terry Pratchett.' Independent Near-future Britain is not just a nation under surveillance but one built on it: a radical experiment in personal transparency and ambient direct democracy. Every action is seen, every word is recorded. Diana Hunter is a refusenik, a has-been cult novelist who lives in a house with its own Faraday cage: no electronic signals can enter or leave. She runs a lending library and conducts business by barter. She is off the grid in a society where the grid is everything. Denounced, arrested and interrogated by a machine that reads your life history from your brain, she dies in custody. Mielikki Neith is the investigator charged with discovering how this tragedy occurred. Neith is Hunter's opposite. She is a woman in her prime, a stalwart advocate of the System. It is the most democratic of governments, and Neith will protect it with her life. When Neith opens the record of the interrogation, she finds not Hunter's mind but four others, none of which can possibly be there: the banker Constantine Kyriakos, pursued by a ghostly shark that eats corporations; the alchemist Athenais Karthagonensis, jilted lover of St Augustine of Hippo and mother to his dead son, kidnapped and required to perform a miracle; Berihun Bekele, artist and grandfather, who must escape an arson fire by walking through walls - if only he can remember how; and Gnomon, a sociopathic human intelligence from a distant future, falling backwards in time to conduct four assassinations. Aided - or perhaps opposed - by the pale and paradoxical Regno Lonnrot, Neith must work her way through the puzzles of her case and find the meaning of these impossible lives. Hunter has left her a message, but is it one she should heed, or a lie to lead her into catastrophe? And as the stories combine and the secrets and encryptions of Gnomon are revealed, the question becomes the most fundamental of all: who will live, and who will die?show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 704 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 49mm | 921g
  • Cornerstone
  • William Heinemann Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1785151274
  • 9781785151279
  • 5,777

Review quote

"Gnomon is an extraordinary novel, and one I can't stop thinking about some weeks after I read it. It is deeply troubling, magnificently strange, and an exhilarating read." -- Emily St. John Mandel, author of 'Station Eleven' "The best thing he's ever written ... It is an astonishing piece of construction, complex and witty ... It is a magnificent achievement ... He's never written a bad book, but this is the one that'll see him mentioned in the same breath as William Gibson and David Mitchell ... This book seriously just destroyed me with joy." -- Warren Ellis "This huge sci-fi detective novel of ideas is so eccentric, so audaciously plotted and so completely labyrinthine and bizarre that I had to put it aside more than once to emit Keanu-like "Whoahs" of appreciation ... It's a technological shaggy-dog tale that threatens to out-Gibson William Gibson ... It is huge fun. And it will melt your brain ... 700 odd pages power relentlessly by, only to touch down with the delicacy of a SpaceX rocket on - ah yes - the only possible ending. Whoah indeed. I wanted to give it a round of applause." * Spectator * "Trying to situate Gnomon in today's literary landscape indicates how odd a figure it cuts. It has something of the large, fine-grained restlessness of David Foster Wallace, the scale and ambition of Zadie Smith or Jonathan Franzen. But it's considerably more gonzo than any of them. It oughtn't to work. It does, though. Gnomon is that rare thing, a book that cannot be accurately summarised or described. It needs to be experienced. And the experience, though it sometimes threatens to overwhelm, is always readable, absorbing, thought-provoking and, in the final analysis, unlike anything else. This novel is its own thing, separated from the continent, not part of the main. Gnomon is an island. And an island you really should visit." -- Adam Roberts * Literary Review * "There is a glorious maximalism to the work of Nick Harkaway ... Each novel has questioned - with admirable exuberance - one of the pillars of the novel itself ... If one can level a criticism at the work of Jorge Luis Borges it would be that it is so perfectly distilled: Harkaway, on the other hand, takes the same themes and produces endless cadenzas around them. There is a brilliance to his writing, in which each idea is stretched and inverted, contorted and deformed. And he has a gift for the ingenious quip, the aphorism, the sensory simile ... Gnomon is a kind of metaphysical epic ... The surface sparkle belies a deep seriousness ... Gnomon is a serious investigation of technological possibility." -- Stuart Kelly * Times Literary Supplement * "One of the most remarkable things about the remarkable Nick Harkaway is the irrelevance of his literary heritage. The son of John le Carre, he is very much his own author ... There's a lot of explanation in this book, but then there's a lot of everything going on in it. Densely texted pages of ideas, references and similes fizz and sparkle and burst into life in a fireworks display that keeps going ... The writing, too, is rarely anything other than impressive ... Gnomon does reward perseverance. Ludicrously complicated it may be, but it's also wonderfully good." -- Harry Ritchie * Sunday Times * "Nick Harkaway's most ambitious novel yet. This story of near-future mass surveillance, artificial intelligence and human identity reads as if 11 novels have been crowded into a matter-transporter pod, emerging on the other side weirdly melded. An enormous, shaggy, infuriating, amazing and quite unforgettable piece of fiction, it's the kind of thing only science fiction can do." -- Adam Roberts * Guardian, Science-Fiction Books of the Year * "Opening a novel by Nick Harkaway feels like stepping into a theme park for the mind - every page you turn brings new delights for the mind and the senses. Gnomon is brilliant and terrifying, full of pleasures big and small. Basically, everything I want in a book." -- Charles Yu, author of 'How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe' "[A] prowling deep-sea monster of a novel ... A sci-fi detective procedural, violent thriller and multi-layered mystery combine brilliantly to pull us through a profound exploration of power and paranoia, technology and myth ... Harkaway dazzles, baffles and teases before guiding us through bloody darkness into understanding." * Daily Mail * "Woven with witty allusions to everything from obscure texts to pop songs, and warning against an unthinking sacrifice of privacy to paranoia, Gnomon will appeal to fans of William Gibson and David Mitchell." * Metro *show more

About Nick Harkaway

Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall in 1972. Author of the novels The Gone-Away World, Angelmaker and Tigerman, he lives in London with his wife and two children.show more

Review Text

"Woven with witty allusions to everything from obscure texts to pop songs, and warning against an unthinking sacrifice of privacy to paranoia, Gnomon will appeal to fans of William Gibson and David Mitchell."show more

Flap copy

Near-future Britain is not just a nation under surveillance but one built on it: a radical experiment in personal transparency and ambient direct democracy. Every action is seen, every word is recorded. Diana Hunter is a refusenik, a has-been cult novelist who lives in a house with its own Faraday cage: no electronic signals can enter or leave. She runs a lending library and conducts business by barter. She is off the grid in a society where the grid is everything. Denounced, arrested and interrogated by a machine that reads your life history from your brain, she dies in custody. Mielikki Neith is the investigator charged with discovering how this tragedy occurred. Neith is Hunter’s opposite. She is a woman in her prime, a stalwart advocate of the System. It is the most democratic of governments, and Neith will protect it with her life. When Neith opens the record of the interrogation, she finds not Hunter’s mind but four others, none of which can possibly be there: the banker Constantine Kyriakos, pursued by a ghostly shark that eats corporations; the alchemist Athenais Karthagonensis, jilted lover of St Augustine of Hippo and mother to his dead son, kidnapped and required to perform a miracle; Berihun Bekele, artist and grandfather, who must escape an arson fire by walking through walls – if only he can remember how; and Gnomon, a sociopathic human intelligence from a distant future, falling backwards in time to conduct four assassinations. Aided – or perhaps opposed – by the pale and paradoxical Regno Lönnrot, Neith must work her way through the puzzles of her case and find the meaning of these impossible lives. Hunter has left her a message, but is it one she should heed, or a lie to lead her into catastrophe? And as the stories combine and the secrets and encryptions of Gnomon are revealed, the question becomes the most fundamental of all: who will live, and who will die?show more

Rating details

90 ratings
3.85 out of 5 stars
5 42% (38)
4 26% (23)
3 13% (12)
2 13% (12)
1 6% (5)
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