A smart, tight, provocative techno-thriller straight out of the very near future - by an iconic visionary writer.
Some people call it "abyss gaze". Gaze into the abyss all day and the abyss will gaze into you.
There are two types of people who think professionally about the future: Foresight strategists are civil futurists who think about geoengineering and smart cities and ways to evade Our Coming Doom; strategic forecasters are spook futurists, who think about geopolitical upheaval and drone warfare and ways to prepare clients for Our Coming Doom. The former are paid by nonprofits and charities, the latter by global security groups and corporate think tanks.
For both types, if you're good at it, and you spend your days and nights doing it, then it's something you can't do for long. Depression sets in. Mental illness festers. And if the abyss gaze takes hold there's only one place to recover: Normal Head, in the wilds of Oregon, within the secure perimeter of an experimental forest.
When Adam Dearden, a foresight strategist, arrives at Normal Head, he is desperate to unplug and be immersed in sylvan silence. But then a patient goes missing from his locked bedroom, leaving nothing but a pile of insects in his wake. A staff investigation ensues; surveillance becomes total. As the mystery of the disappeared man unravels in Warren Ellis's Normal, Adam uncovers a conspiracy that calls into question the core principles of how and why we think about the future - and the past, and the now.
©2016 Warren Ellis (P)2016 Macmillan Audio
As always, his vision of the future is thought provoking, wry, horrific & possible.
I don't think any novel Warren Ellis has written really qualifies as anything other than a novella. They're all surprisingly short. It's especially true here where I feel like the story ends abruptly at what should have been the halfway point where your expectations are turned around leading to you an even niftier ending. I don't regret buying and reading any of them but I know that the same man who wrote Planetary and Transmetropolitan can plot a more complex and involving story.
This was a struggle and I really wanted to like it more. Nothing engaged me about the story. A collection of good ideas that never cultivated into anything.
The story was good, I would have given it four, possibly even five stars, except that it felt like it was just getting started, and it was over! The book feels cut short, when it could have been carried on well beyond the last page. Hope it continues as a series, because this left me hanging.
It seems like Ellis wrote this with something gnawing at him. He had a bunch of interesting thoughts clanging around in his skull and had to get them out. What that amounts to is the book "Normal."
Warren Ellis's stories, in particular this book and Crooked Little Vein, feature protagonists encountering characters who expound on various topics of interest. Each of these characters then gives a little TED talk about "how the world works" from their perspective, or something of particular significance to mankind. If you're ready for that, this is entertaining.
However, if you're looking for a lot to happen, you'll most likely be disappointed. For a rather short listen, this book is good enough for me and John Hodgman performs the text admirably.
Blind listener reading everything, especially mystery/thrillers and sf&f. Restricted to audio so picky where credits spent. #BooksRule
Entertaining/enjoyable read... Wry social commentary, clever humor, deft insights, and skillful writing make for a nice afternoon read... Great characters and appropriate narration... Mayhap a bit thick on the symbolism/allegory, some will appreciate more than others...
"interesting and convoluted"
typical of a Warren Ellis book with great research and well thought out storyline. definitely one to listen to a few more times.
"A peek inside something larger."
A wonderful book, but I found it strangely lacking. It was a glance into something fascinating that I wish I could have spent more time inside. The world needed us to stick around for a bit longer.
"Good but a bit short and unsatisfactory"
The narrator is a bit too soft in his voice; makes it hard to hear him when taking the train.
The story is classic Warren Ellis with the usual bunch of weird characters and philosophical monologues.
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