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Angel Station [Mass Market Paperback]

Walter Jon Williams


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Book Description

May 15 1990
Set in the distant future, this is the story of Ubu and Maria, who decide to leave Angel station after the suicide of their "father". The author has also written "Ambassador of Progress", "Knight Moves", "Hardwired" and "Voice of the Whirlwind".
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (May 15 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812557875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812557879
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,374,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Ubu has four arms, a fantastically faithful memory and is 13 years old. His 11-year-old "sister" Maria is more conventionally constructed, yet so psychic she considers herself a witch. (Both mature with the artificial aid of "mones" to the time of their late teens.) Their "father," Pasco, a small-time trader with an ancient spaceship, originally assembled them from spare genetic material and personality programs, but he commits suicide while in the throes of a depression, leaving his children to fend for themselves. Ubu compounds their problems by making an unwise business move, putting them deeply in debt--in danger of losing the ship and facing a life of virtual indenture. An attempt to capitalize on Maria's psychic abilities in a casino ends in disaster, leading to their arrest, escape and lives pursued on the edge of the law. Williams ( Hardwired ) colorfully evokes the life of the trader families and their honkytonk space stations. With its emphasis on youth, beauty, sex and mischief, the novel also conjures a contemporary mood agreeably distinct from its futuristic setting.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Contact Between a Pair of Deeply Imagined Trading Cultures = Very Cool, Fun Ride Jan. 23 2013
By Robbster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well, I'm half way through WJW original 6 SF storylines, and loving every minute of it! Have now completed Voice of the Whirlwind, Hardwired, and now Angel Station, and must say I continue to thoroughly enjoy my very late discovery of his early work.

WJW original 6 SF storylines, in his own words, are:

"A future in which everything went right. (This became my novel Knight Moves.)
A future in which everything went wrong. (This became Hardwired.)
A mystery/thriller. (Voices of the Whirlwind)
A first-contact story. (Angel Station)
A Restoration-style comedy of manners. (The Crown Jewels and its sequels)
A hard-boiled mystery. (Days of Atonement)"

There is something about the pent up creative energy that Williams unleashed upon these 6 story lines, once he made the switch from nautical historical fiction to SF, that produced a truly wonderful body of early work - wildly creative plots, deeply imagined cultures, plenty of well-extrapolated as well as newly imagined technology, surprising twists, nicely flawed, very human characters, and some not so human as well, and the somewhat rare craft to keep it all moving, entertaining, and (also somewhat rare these days) internally consistent. Just great stuff!

I'm not one to recapitulate plot lines in a review, totally spoils the story, but I do like to highlight the big building blocks that I find of greatest interest and enjoyment. In Angel Station we have

+Marginalized but fiercely independent space-going human trading culture that is in decline
+Family tensions and tragedies created as much by cultural pressures as by the readily available and freely practiced genetic design of offspring
+The timeless theme of those in power creating economic and political structures designed to maintain their power, and this pitted against the entropy inherent in human culture and technology.
+First contact with an alien trading culture just as richly imagined as the human one, just as crafty, and just as deeply entwined with their very alien biology as our culture is with our own biology.

Whew! That is quite a number of big themes to weave together into a story, but Williams does it masterfully, and with a very rewarding payoff at the end.

Highly recommended, along with Hardwired and Voice of the Whirlwind.

Now, onto the next three...
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazon needs more stars. Dec 15 2011
By Stephen Marino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Some books are fun to read, however, they are very two dimensional, with characters from a comic book and a world with all the complexity of, "See spot run." There is nothing wrong with these books, they can be quite fun. If this is what you are looking for, you should probably look someplace else.

Angel Station is not a hard book to read, however, there are layers beneath the layers. The characters do not fall into the classic villein/hero classifications, they go about their business following their own goals. This brings them into conflict. Some choose to act in a cruel way, others selfless. Those choices define who they become.

If Angel station asks one (two?) central question it is, "What makes a winner a winner, and what makes a looser a looser?" I don't think the book defines the answer so much as it expects you to think about it and perhaps come up with your own answer.

This is a book that should be read, put down for a while, then reread again. You will get much more from it the second time.

Disclaimer: I read a lot. This book is on my five all-time favorites list.

Disclaimer 2.0: This review is of the paperback version. I would assume there are no differences between the paper and Kindle versions.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Maria/Ubu Feb. 17 2001
By Thomas E. Burke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a great book...one of my favorite sci-fi books of alltime.
First of all, the whole idea of being able to capture and use the power of a singularity on board a ship to travel the stars is fascinating and powerfully described.
The two main occupants of the ship "Runaway" use their own unique powers, Ubu's perfect memory and and his sister Beautiful Maria's ability to shepherd electron flow, to control their ship and navigate the deep. But they have a problem...Ubu and Beautiful Maria are broke and desperate and need to do something soon. Out of such desperation comes risky ideas, conflict, money, screw-ups, drugs, sex, the law, aliens, hope, betrayal, power,and resolution.
This is a great ride, where eveytime you think it's going to turn out, it doesn't, or it does in an unexpected way. Walter Jon Williams has put together a great story that will keep you guessing. Try it out...it's just as good as "Hardwired" and "Voice of the Whirlwind".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Remember their Ages April 6 2012
By John Dierdorf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
WJW is such a good author that it's easy to get frustrated with the dumb decisions Ubu Roy and Beautiful Maria make. Every chapter or two I had to pull back and repeat, "No matter how mature their bodies may be and how much they think they know (and how much drugsandsex they are getting) they are THIRTEEN AND ELEVEN YEARS OLD! Angel Station is a wonderful illustration of the difference between knowledge and maturity/experience. (I used to tell my college students, "I have just memorized the American Manual of Surgery. May I take out your appendix?" to illustrate that knowing a programming language (or ten) was not a marketable skill.) Maturity and Experience are what make us human, and neither Ubu nor Maria are entirely human in the book; he keeps getting less human and she keeps getting more human.

It can also be read as an allegory of what can go wrong when you get what you want. The average adolescent or pre-teen would love to have superpowers and no parental authority and the opportunity to screw themself silly, but as WJW points out, this fantasy has certain drawbacks, to put it mildly.

BTW, I also pointed out to my students that the average six-year-old American has pretty well mastered the syntax of English or Spanish or whatever, even though natural languages are a thousand times more difficult than any programming language ever invented (the child's nouns agree with verbs, the parts of speech are used in the right way and in the right order, ...), but on average, six-year-olds write truly crappy novels.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clasic space opera Nov. 5 2012
By Henry H - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Concise fluent and captivating technical SF. Very classic in the setting and protagonists.
Recommended to all who loved 60-80 technical SF

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