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Jack Faust ☆ [PDF / Epub] ★ Jack Faust By Michael Swanwick ✩ – Thomashillier.co.uk The acclaimed novels of award winning author Michael Swanwick have been praised for their heady mix of wild ideas and images San Francisco Chronicle and extraordinary richness and scope Kirkus Reviews The acclaimed novels of award winning author Michael Swanwick have been praised for their heady mix of wild ideas and images San Francisco Chronicle and extraordinary richness and scope Kirkus Reviews But nothing that has come before can uite compare to this Swanwick's finest creation to dateIt is Wittenberg Germany and Dr Faust is burning his books The alchemist is in deepest despair for even his vast learning is powerless against the ignorance and superstition of his fellow man Then in his darkest moment a voice whispers Faust And so begins Swanwick's masterful reinvention of Goethe's story of a scholar who sells his soul to the Devil for the gift of unlimited KnowledgeBut the wisdom this Mephistopheles offers goes far beyond anything even imagined in Goethe's day The principles of flight technology and economics the mysteries of the cosmos medicine and the atom all are made known to Faust as he remakes the world in his own image ushering in the New Age of Mechanization centuries before its rightful day Ultimately it is love for his creations and for a woman named Margarete that damns Jack Faust as this brilliant story spins forward through time pulling the reader to the very brink of the new millennium to confront the progress Faust has wroughtLyrical arresting and provocative Jack Faust is a cause for celebration it is an extraordinary work that entertains gloriously as it takes a deep and disturbing look into the collective soul of humankind.

10 thoughts on “Jack Faust

  1. Karl Karl says:

    Set in Wittenberg Germany on the eve of the 19th century Swanwick's vivid retelling of an immortal tale opens with Faust burning his books in frustration at his own ignorance trapped in a time and in a city where things were done by magic Faust accepts Mephistopheles's offer of infinite and absolute knowledge Faust has no companion except Mephistopheles He accepts the devil's offer to see women naked falls in love at the sight of virginal young Margarete Reinhardt and is willing to do anything to win her Faust approaches Margarete's father with get rich uick schemes and essentially becomes a businessman instead of a scholar learning that the best way to sell inventions is by applying them to military endsIn the name of love Faust sets the world into a downward spiral of greed and war

  2. Werner Werner says:

    If there is no God everything is permitted Fyodor Dostoevsky'Do what thou wilt' shall be the whole of the law Aleister CrowleyBoth of the uoted lines could well serve as epigraphs for this novel though the author actually used three other uotes and both summarize the major thrust of its message Swanwick uses the Faust legend here as a literary conceit for a very dark and pessimistic meditation on the social moral and spiritual results of modernity The Goodreads description is technically accurate enough but really doesn't convey the flavor of what's hereMarlowe and Goethe both envisioned the Faust legend in terms adapted to the ideas and concerns of their day; Swanwick does likewise This is a vision of the Faust story for a secular minded age the protagonist's bargain in the early decades of the 16th century as a scholar who's lost his faith is not with the devil but with a malevolent alien race supposedly omniscient and capable of communicating telepathically across the vastness of space and one of their first supposed revelations to Faust is that there is no God And unlike the devil they're not bargaining for a human soul For reasons not fully explained their race faces extinction If they can't live they don't want any other race to live either; and barring their intervention the human race will outlast them What they want of Faust is to be the conduit for their scientific knowledge and nihilistic philosophy into the 16th century to ensure that the human race will complete its own self destruction in Faust's lifetimeMy only experience of Swanwick's work prior to reading this book was his short story A Midwinter's Tale which I wasn't overly impressed with; but when I saw a remaindered copy of this book on sale being a sucker for alternate world scenarios I took a chance on it It does deliver a fascinating alternate 16th century as the full effects of the scientific commercial and industrial revolutions the Enlightenment Darwinism Marxism and Fascism are all crammed into a few decades In this alternate world Faust's Periodic Table of the Elements not Luther's 95 Theses is the revolutionary document nailed to the door of Wittenberg's Castle Church Dark and pessimistic reads of course aren't usually my cup of tea I rated this one as highly as I did partly because Swanwick's story telling skills here are pretty effective at involving the reader and partly because this is a very penetrating honest critiue of exactly what modernity has done to the human race in terms of the uality of our lives and thought and our relations with each other not a Pollyanna celebration of the glories of Science and Progress And this critiue also takes seriously the devastating and socially destructive effects of widespread loss of religious belief a recognition that's significant given the fact that elements of the book indicate that Swanwick is an atheist himself but like HP Lovecraft one who refuses to whistle in the graveyardAlthough I did check the Wikipedia description of Goethe's Faust before writing this review I've never read the latter work and you don't have to have in order to appreciate this one Swanwick however has clearly read it and having read it beforehand would doubtless enhance your appreciation and understanding of where some of the plot elements come from view spoilerGoethe's Gretchen for instance is also impregnated by Faust also kills her baby and is imprisoned for it and also refuses Faust's attempt to release her hide spoiler

  3. Richard Derus Richard Derus says:

    Real Rating 25 of fivemeh

  4. Alan Alan says:

    Faust said with sudden apprehension Yes Yes what do you want of me in return?Only that you listen—p28A demonic bargain to be sure—in a sense the same one I ask of you here But Faust and Mephistopheles go further of course in this updated version of the old tale; what the demon asks Faust to listen to is nothing less than the whole of physical science given centuries before its natural advent in our universe The demon makes it clear that its gifts are made from malice but Faust accepts them anyway telling himself and Mephistopheles that humanity might not use them for destruction after all That redemption might yet be salvaged from the savage revolutions Faust will set in motion The chance is there The choice is there All we need to do is choose wisely when faced with worldly ease and wealth taken from the toil of others at the expense of the futureAnd when has humanity ever chosen wisely? When have humans ever really listened? Does Jack's love for Margrete change things? Only time will tell—and Jack's time is out of jointThis book won multiple awards when it was new and understandably so; yes that's exactly how events would proceed once the bargain has been struck As a work of speculative fiction Jack Faust is nearly unparalleled Yet is it bad of me or merely all too human to have wanted just a little light?

  5. prcardi prcardi says:

    Storyline 15Characters 25Writing Style 35World 15I hadn't realized when I picked this up that this was another adaptation of the classic Faust story That wasn't a tale I felt I really needed to hear again but I tried to be open minded and look forward to what Swanwick would bring to the story His contribution pushes it into the science fiction realm though really it probably should simply be considered alternate history It is the nature of the knowledge and the terms of the Faustian bargain with the devil that Swanwick plays with view spoilerFaust repeatedly receives advanced scientific knowledge that leads to society wide changes hide spoiler

  6. Johnny Johnny says:

    Jack Faust is a retelling of the “Faust” legend It is richly evocative of the medieval setting and presents Mephistopheles in the most fascinating way as a supernatural being who appears almost randomly as both disgusting and appropriate creatures—visible to the eyes of Faust only The use of a first name to personalize the protagonist rather fooled me particularly since the action of the novel all takes place in an alternate medieval history in Europe The contemporary name led me to believe that this alternate historical novel would reach its climax in either the modern or cyberpunk era—especially given the author’s work in the latterI was disappointed in my presumption but encouraged by the narrative flow Unlike Doctor Faustus or Faust the rather poetic stage versions of the legend I had previously encountered this novel spent less time engaging in philosophical discussion than in dragging the protagonist inexorably downward into the expected tragedy of a life wherein the power to bless in this case by scientific means becomes the reality of a curseI was less convinced by the motivation attributed by the author to the demons Spoiler alert In this recounting of the legend the author posits that the demons have a shorter lifestyle than that of the humans and that they are understandably jealous of the human advantage in this regard So their intent is to wreak revenge on humanity by allowing them unlimited knowledge such that they will destroy themselves I understand the motivation of offering the knowledge such that it can be twisted back upon humanity—such was the promise of the serpent in Genesis 3 I don’t understand the idea of having powerful supernatural beings who survive for a shorter life span than humans It seems like the idea of beings beyond time would have added to the idea of a “race” with superior knowledge rather than enhanced it I think the author was deliberately trying to avoid the traditional idea of demons being jealous of humans because the demonic fall was presumably permanent after Lucifer’s rebellion and the human fall was “reversible” by means of Jesus’ death and resurrection In this case I don’t believe anything was gained by jumping the shark of tradition Of course if you like novelty for novelty’s sake it is at least a fresh take on the meta struggle for humanity’s soul But then again if you were looking for novelty you probably wouldn’t have picked up a novel with a name like Faust in the title Why go for a retelling when you could get somethingercompletely different

  7. Dergrossest Dergrossest says:

    It's tough to like a book that is all about the meaninglessness of life and inherent evil of humanity but the author comes close to making the sale This supposedly modern retelling of Faust is really an alternate history tale with aliens standing in for the Devil The premise is that these aliens wish to terminate humanity by accelerating the development of technology which of course happens But this is patently unfair to humanity since technological and societal change usually move hand in hand and to expect that underdeveloped societies just emerging from 1000 years of darkness since after the fall of Rome would be able to handle nuclear power overnight is simply ridiculous It's like giving children cars to drive and concluding that children are ultimately self destructive because they subseuently get into accidents with the cars and kill themselves when in reality they just weren't ready for them and neither are the humans in this book Still the writer is very skilled and his descriptions of a Middle Ages industrial financial and social revolution are fascinating as are the manifestations and observations of his Sci Fi Mephistopheles and his sometimes sweet mostly cynical and always vivid passages on sex this book is definitely not for the puritanical However notwithstanding these enjoyable aspects this ultimately remains a hard book to like Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age but I just don't think that mankind or life sucks as much as the author does

  8. Sarah Sarah says:

    The middle of this book was so strong but the ending really fell apart for me I think it either needed to take the apocalyptic trajectory of J Faust further to explicitly allude to the prophecypact come true or to go out with the air raid on the Spanish fleet A bad ending rates eual with the average of the rest of the book in weight and importance for me so this one left me meh in spite of lovely prose and a fantastic GretchenMargaretta

  9. Amanda Amanda says:

    great so far Wow i've never read any of Swanwick's books before although i've had The Iron Dragon's Daughter by him for over a year I have definitely been missing out this guy is GOODJack Faust is a rewrite of Goethe's classic tale of a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in order to posess all the knowledge in the world and beyond

  10. John Robinson John Robinson says:

    Swanwick's just a frakking genius and this just goes to further his place in the list of criminally underrated authors Much as I liked this it's no Dragons of Babel which just go read that I regret at least weekly that I sent my hardback copy off to a friend Worth buying if you're looking for a pleasant reworking of the Faust legend or just a pleasant read

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