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Babylon Babies [Mass Market Paperback]

Maurice G Dantec

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Book Description

July 29 2008
“What makes the novel so haunting is its vision of a near future in which society has fractured along every possible national, tribal and sectarian fault line.”
–The New York Times Book Review

In the hidden “flesh and chip” breeding grounds of the first cyborg communities, Toorop, a hard-boiled Special Forces veteran of Sarajevo, is hired by a shadow organization to escort a young woman, Marie Zorn, from Russia to Canada. But what appears to be a routine job is anything but. After completing the mission, Thoorop discovers that Marie is no ordinary girl. A genetically altered pawn in an elaborate plot, Marie is carrying a dark secret that could spell destruction for all humankind–if Thoorop doesn’t track her down before it’s too late.

“A vast encyclopedia of the future as seen through a crystal ball with cracks in the glass.”
–The Sydney Morning Herald

“Intense.”
–Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (July 29 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345505972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345505972
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.4 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #613,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Explosive and paranoid, this futuristic fable by French sci-fi novelist Dantec explores the frightening ramifications of genetic experimentation. In a constantly shifting world conflict circa 2013, violent-minded (though well-read) Hugo Cornelius Toorop, a 20-year Special Forces veteran of the Bosnian conflict, is offered a lucrative new job by the Siberian mafia in Kazakhstan to transport a young woman to Montreal. Who is Marie Zorn, and what does she carry that is top secret? Armed with new identities and the requisite grenades, Hugo, along with his expert team—the gun-happy Israeli Rebecca Waterman and the hard-core Belfast rebel Dowie—get her to Montreal, where it becomes clear that Marie is a pawn in a vast, pernicious artificial biosphere program and that, moreover, she's pregnant, feared to be carrying an animal clone, and thus contaminated. The nimble, hyperbolic Dantec creates a surreal alternate identity for her on the streets of Quebec through a kind of virtual death. Toorop is pressed by a New Age army of cyborgs (aka Cosmic Dragons) to find Marie and bring her back, and under drug experiments he penetrates the double helix to achieve a surprisingly humanistic conclusion. Riddled with acronyms and pop culture allusions, this is an intense, intellectually labyrinthine ride. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Dantec has created a compelling story with evocative ideas that may prove even more illuminating with subsequent readings, and a reader who undertakes the arduous journey from cover to cover will be rewarded with an entertaining tale." Arthur Bangs sffworld.com



"Dantec is a literary revolution." Science Fiction



" Babylon Babies, an under-appreciated novel by French punk rocker turned writer Maurice G. Dantec, deserves a wider audience, and not just because its author is frequently mentioned in the same breath as Michel Houellebecq (and definitely not because the book is being adapted into a movie starring Vin Diesel)... what makes this novel (translated by Noura Wedell) so haunting is its vision of a near future in which society has fractured along every possible national, tribal and sectarian fault line." New York Times Book Review



"Riddled with acronyms and pop culture allusions, this is an intense, intellectually labyrinthine ride." Publishers Weekly



"[T]his novel by Maurice Dantec was an epic ride." ThickOnline.com



"The book deals with the breakdown of community and political certainty. It is gingered with snippets from Dantec's favourite philosophers and loaded with thoughts of his own. The result is a real workout for the reader. Babylon Babies is a vast encyclopedia of the future as seen through a crystal ball with cracks in the glass.... Babylon Babies is part of a genre that makes play with religious ideas. You might call it theo-fiction." The Sydney Morning Herald

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Toorop is a first-rate character, but the rest of Dantec's universe is not quite so winning Jan. 31 2009
By D. Beatty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book after seeing the movie Babylon A.D. I knew it was going to be a "different" read after getting it through interlibrary loan and finding it published by semiotext(e) under the MIT Press. Just Google semiotext and have a look at their eclectic offerings.

The movie is only okay - it really seemed to be lacking in story and character development. I happen to like Vin Diesel and can be satisfied sometimes with mediocre sci-fi movies so it was fine for me.

As a fast-paced tome of more than 500 pages employing a high-level vocabulary, I quickly found that the book has a lot more to say than the movie, which is only a shadow of the book and deviates from it quite a bit.

As for the book, I was drawn in instantly even though I had no prior conception that I'd actually like the book - unlike some books where it takes me a few chapters to decide if I'm going to like it or not. With this one, you'll probably know right away, and your reaction will probably be pretty strong one way or the other.

I found Cornelius Hugo Toorop to be an interesting and engaging character, and I'd be happy to read a whole series of books about him - an aging dope-smoking almost-Muslim intellectual mercenary killer of Central Asian wars with the strategic brain of a general but without the ambition or coldness of a warlord, who is drawn into a vision quest that leads him to improbable yet sentimental fatherhood.

As for the big plot, even though you can tell what's coming if you pay any attention, it draws you along and keeps you turning pages to find out how things will play out to their conclusion. The level of drama and revolution in the climax for the characters doesn't translate fully to the reader - but it remains satisfying. The most satisfying element for me was the evolution of the main character to his next stage of life, coinciding with the next stage of human evolution itself, although I felt somewhat dissatisfied with the psychotropic vision quest of Toorop - it fits well in the world created by Dantec, but it seemed a bit stunted and slightly artificial as a vehicle for Toorop's evolution.

And while some people surely hate it, I liked Dantec's technobabble acid-trip-esque writing style, to a point - it carried me into another strange parallel world that was sci-fi, cyberpunk, and tripped-out. The impatient, conventional, or fledgling reader will likely find it indigestible. If you liked Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, you might like this.

There were too many pages spent on characters too strange or flat to connect to, although they seemed to exist only as vehicles for advancement of story and not so much in interest for them. Also a bit too much writing was spent in trying to explain or describe the inexplicable/indescribable just so you get a sense of how inexplicable/indescribable it is supposed to be without really believing it.

Sexuality is a central theme, as is post-apocalyptic destruction by religious sects, motorcycle gangs and other strange chaotic denizens of Dantec's weird creation. Oh, and graphic language exists throughout - so this is probably not the best choice for a junior high reading circle.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mister Toorop Oct. 15 2008
By Paul - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I saw the movie a few days after Hurricane Ike came through Houston leaving power out of commission for just about everybody in the city except for a movie theater nearby. I had no big expectations for this movie since Vin Diesel was playing "Mister Toorop" and the name changed to Babylon A.D. Instead, I left the theater sort of scratching my head thinking, "okay, that was pretty good". While being a typical Sci-Fi movie with explosions and one-liners flowing from Vin D's mouth the movie did leave me wanting to know more about how his world came to be, what's the story behind the girl, and what's so special about the Babies. The Babylon Babies that is. So I bought the book. Still reading it, so far so good. Most of my questions were answered. In reflection though, the book is far more graphically detailed than the movie. Vin D. should not have played Toorop. More attention should have been given to the end of the movie instead of their journey from the Mountains because that's where the reading is non-stop. I must be reading chapters each night without noticing. Yes, this is a book worth reading. After all, it's only about $6. I paid more than that for an hour and a half at the movies. This book will last you a few days.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars unique cyberpunk May 3 2006
By Samuel N. Starkey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Originally written in French several years ago, this novel does seem just a bit dated as it is finally released in English in 2005. Many of the flashbacks are to time periods that have already passed and that serves to break the reader out of the illusion at a few points. Other than that this was an enjoyable read.

The cloak and dagger form of other cyberpunk is evident here except it is metted out at a more measured pace. Dantec creates a unique cast of characters who evolve over the life of the story. The unusual locations (at least for most American fiction) like ex-Russian states and China set the novel apart from similar titles.

The central mystery slowly builds to a satisfying conclusion wrapping up the major plot points while leaving open the otion for a sequel. It would be interesting to see what the author would do in a sequel further expanding on the fascinating philosophy of evolution just touched on at the end of the novel.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars effortless style Jan. 11 2011
By the27th - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A Sun Tzu-quoting mercenary.
A beautiful schizophrenic carrying a genetically modified fetus.
Battling biotech cults.
The Russian mob, the Hell's Angels, and a rebellion in western China.
An artificial intelligence named Joe-Jane who thinks like Deleuze.

Basically what you have here is a sharp, stylish near-future adventure, with a style somewhere between a standard sci-fi thriller and a postmodern novel. It's a beautiful perfusion of weirdness. It's more style than substance -- Dantec isn't really interested in science or plausibility, and if you read with a critical eye it shows. A lot of the technology is just plugged in as convenient magic, and very little of it is truly innovative. If you're used to science fiction that actually goes to new places, you'll be disappointed. But if you suspend disbelief, it's a hell of a ride, and it makes Montreal look like easily the coolest city in the world.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, So-So Translation ? Oct. 10 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm writing a review, but still feel like I'm reserving judgment of this book somewhat. I just finished it. I really like the ideas and themes presented in the book. Other reviewers keep calling this a cyberpunk book, and I guess that's accurate enough, but cyberpunk always seemed to have as much an emphasis on style as it did on substance. Babylon Babies is a meaty book. It packs a lot of ideas into what could otherwise be a run-of-the-mill action/spy/science fiction thriller. I liked how the author linked together shamanism and near-future tech in a pretty believable way. There were a lot of dream sequences, particularly towards the end, but dreams are central to the book's theme (as they are also to any form of shamanism that I've ever heard of.)

However, the book's greatest weakness seems to be the translation, particularly the dialogue. Many of the quips or glib one-liners by the characters really didn't make a lot of sense. Often I felt like I was forced to sort of extrapolate out from the context just exactly what the author was trying to convey with a particularly line of dialogue. Outside of the dialogue though, the prose flows pretty well and the author and translator do a good job of explaining a very fantastic and certainly complicated fusion of spiritual and technological ideas.
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