Station Eleven(67 Posts)
Oh my god this might be the best book I've ever read. Has anyone else read it?
I've read this and really enjoyed it. Beautiful descriptions. A surprising find last year.
Absobleedinglutely loathed it. It's definitely a Marmite book on here!
Have you any other
books sci-fi? It's not a particularly good one in that genre.
The plot was utterly ridiculous. A disease that kills in 1 day is the easiest 'contagion' in history to contain. Just tell everyone to stay home for 2 days.
And a post-apocalyptic world where basic needs are so easy to meet that people get to laze around and whine about how much they miss A/C all day long
Seriously, a very poor example of SF. I can suggest much better ones if anyone is interested.
I'm slogging through The Road by Cormac McCarthy at the moment. It's only a short book but, as an audio book, I'm finding the bleakness of it difficult to take in big chunks.
Whilst I did enjoy Station Eleven very much, I can see that there are far more serious approaches to post apocalyptic literature out there, this being one imo. Some scenes are stomach churning in their awfulness - cannibalism as the alternative to starvation, for instance.
I haven't read The Road but cannibalism as an alternative to starvation has happened without a global catastrophe, even when people were stranded on a boat or a mountain. As depressing and upsetting a thought as it is, cannibalism does happen when people starve.
(When I visited Nantucket, I was told the story of the man who survived that whaling tragedy. He remained a recluse in his home (tower?) apparently that was always stocked to the gills with food )
Anyway re SF, to each their own but personally I expect a minimum of realism - an overlap with what I know about the universe and human nature. What we see everywhere when power structures collapse is difficulty to meet basic needs like food and clean water, and a rapid return to lawlessness & savagery as people realise everything is there for the taking and there will be no consequences. The struggle to come up with a new power structure, to provide safety for loved ones. NOT sitting around all day bored and whinging about lost comforts of air conditioning like pampered children.
Off the top of my head, apocalyptic & post-apocalyptic books that were far superior to Station 11:
The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Day Of The Triffids
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Flood by Stephen Baxter
World War Z by Max Brooks
The Postman by David Brin
And the few I have read that were at about the level of Station 11:
On The Beach by Neville Shute
The Girl With All The Gifts by Mike Carey
Well, based on your criteria there Cote, I would say The Road fits in quite well. The central characters are a father and son (never called anything other than the man and the boy), struggling across country trying to avoid the lawless gangs who are killing for what they can get, including the meat of the dead. It is harsh country, ash strewn, permanently winter and with little hope of survival.
I wouldn't say I'm enjoying it, but I do like it. As a genre, it interests me. Will look into some your other suggestions too. But I do think Station Eleven was a good
(or bad) starting point to explore the genre and generate an interest in further exploration. I think I first read The Day of the Triffids whilst at school, along with The Lord of the Flies (still terrifies me).
I only recently read The Day Of The Triffids (& reviewed on 50-Book thread) and was pleasantly surprised - the nonsense that was aggressive plants was not essential to the story, which was more about the collapse of modern society when the vast majority of people go blind overnight. I thought it was pretty well done, despite the silly plants.
My new favourite in the post-apocalyptic genre might just be Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, once I can get myself to pay £9.99 for the Kindle edition. It's been out for almost a year. I think it will soon be the most expensive Kindle book I will have ever bought.
I'd be interested to see what you think if you ever get around to reading The Road, Cote. I was distinctly underwhelmed by it. I thought it did virtually nothing that King hadn't already done in The Stand and found the ending an absolute cop-out.
Maybe I should read The Stand again, actually. I loved it as a teen but can't remember a thing about it except that there were some people and they were going somewhere, and there was a showdown between good and evil.
I was just about to say that about the ending in my review, Remus. I liked it up to that point but the ending made me cross.
Cote - that about sums it up, tbh!
Quog - So convenient. So incredible. So much a 'So what was the point of the entire novel' moment. I read another of his books and it put me off him entirely- No Country For Old Men. Dullsville.
Have you read 'In the Heart of the Sea', Cote? I thought it was excellent.
Hah there must have been a bit more to The Stand than that!
I have In The Heart Of The Sea but haven't read it yet. I think I know the about it, though. I've been to Nantucket where I learned all about that grim story.
I loved Station Eleven. I recently read anothe rof hers. Can't remember the title tjough.
However, I agree with Cote in that The Postman is excellent, as is The Passge. I really enjoyed the Wool series too.
The Road was ever so bleak but I think that's part of the appeal... I liked the style of prose as it suited the storyline.
I liked it too, and the details of how the apocalypse happens didn't really matter much to me (and I say that as a microbiologist) but I don't usually read post-apocalypse literature. I enjoyed the writing and the characters and that glimmer of hope at the end.
I loved it too. And cote's comment about how it's not particularly good as a piece of sci-fi is clearly not shared by everyone, since it won a very prestigious sci-fi award (the Arthur C. Clarke award) last year.
Yes, Arthur C Clarke award has sadly gone a bit downhill. Its shortlist was surprisingly weak last year, with quite a few chick-litty & YA, and light first novels - e.g. The Girl With All The Gifts, The First 15 Lives Of Harry August, and Station Eleven of course.
Arthur C Clarke was a scientist who took great care to make sure his novels were scientifically correct in every detail. I have read and enjoyed nearly everything he has published. Imho, he would be disappointed with the books recently chosen under his name, that are so weak in science and credible detail.
Not all fans of sci-fi perceive being 'scientifically correct in every detail' as the primary goal of the genre. To each their own...
You may well speak for one contingent of sci-fi readers, but not all!
But is it that unrealistic? Stephen King makes exactly this point in The Stand. If the current human population were reduced by 98% there's basically nothing to fight over. Loads of land, food and water for everyone. Also, Station Eleven is set 20 years later, so things have essentially settled down. People are farming again. They can hunt and forage. There's been no environmental catastrophe so plenty of fertile land and clean water.
That said, I wouldnt describe SE as Sci Fi. It's hard to categorize. I'd describe it as post-apocalyptic accessible literary.
I really enjoyed Station 11 - and actually enjoyed that it wasn't too much "and everybody dies"
Cote thanks for the recs for others in the genre. I'm listening to the passage at the moment and it's fantastic.
I didn't particularly love Station Eleven but I didn't really not like it either it. The travelling orchestra really irritated me - not sure why and it was all a bit convenient how they all ended up back at the airport but overall it was a good story and I completely get what so many people liked it and why it won the ACC award. I don't look for perfection in my books - I look to be entertained and sometimes enlightened. Different strokes I guess. I also really liked The Girl with All the Gifts. Stephen King is king thought when it comes to this genre I think and The Stand is up for a reread this year.
I read The Road and found it incredibly bleak and was quite glad to close the last page. The Passage however is well worth reading as is the second book in the trilogy, The Twelve. The final book The City of Mirrors is due out this summer and I am so looking forward to it .
Ooh I'm going to read The Passage and The Stand. Trying to stagger genres though so
I don't get bored!
Another one that I really enjoyed was The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The tv series was rubbish but the books were real page turners and entertaining.
"Not all fans of sci-fi perceive being 'scientifically correct in every detail' as the primary goal of the genre. To each their own..."
I totally agree. People like different things.
My point was that Arthur C Clarke himself wrote credible sci-fi that is correct in every detail. When he talked about the astronaut sitting on Europa and watching a planet rise on one direction in his book 2010, for example, you can bet that he has actually made the calculations and that planet would indeed rise from that direction at that time. Imho Arthur C Clarke would be disappointed with not only last year's winner of his award but also the shortlist in general.
To each their own and that but I think it is not controversial to say that good SF is supposed to make sense as a bare minimum, even if every single scientific detail is not entirely correct. Bad SF often has ludicrous plot. Good SF has well-constructed, clever plot and credible detail.
Ime people who say they loved "soft" SF like Station 11 and Never Let Me Go don't normally read SF and think these are brilliant books because they haven't read any other books that deal with the themes of global catastrophe or clones.
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