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Down There In Darkness [Paperback]

George Turner
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1 2000

Turner was a significant Australian novelist before turning to SF in the 1970s and becoming one of the great living SF writers, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best novel. This novel chronicles the future destruction and eventual rebirth of human civilization.

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

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In his final novel, SF master Turner, who died in 1997, presents an eerie vision of the future. By the year 2070, "the four horsemen of the greenhouse apocalypse"Aoverpopulation, pollution, nationalism and unemploymentAhave made life nearly intolerable for the sunburned denizens of Victoria, Australia. In the middle of a January heat wave, police detective Harry Ostrov is assigned to what he hopes will be a career-saving case. The painter Brian Warlock has been in a comata-like state for 20 years, the victim of an electronically induced hypnosis experiment gone awry. Now a psychiatrist who was present at the original procedure will try to reanimate the artist in order to resolve a dispute over the ownership of several of his valuable paintings, and Ostrov's secretive boss has asked the cop to spy on the operation. Ostrov requests help from his friend Gus Kostakis (his ally in The Destiny Makers), and the two soon become embroiled in a plot to tap the depths of the human unconscious. Falling victim to foul play, Ostrov and Kostakis are captured, frozen and defrosted 100 years later. Upon awakening, they are confronted by a dystopia in which the overpopulation problem has been brutally resolved by a powerful, sanctimonious scientist. Employing radical time changes and alternating points of view, Turner creates a land reminiscent of Huxley's Brave New World. His narrative innovatively blends conceptual art, aboriginal philosophy and genetic engineering, and his characters display a memorable vibrancy. Nonetheless, as Turner had just completed the draft of this novel before he died, it often reads more like a collection of intriguing ideas strung together than a fully polished work. (May) FYI: According to the publisher, Turner is to be the Guest of Honor at the 1999 World SF Convention in Australia.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In a dystopic future Australia, policeman Harry Ostrov acts as a witness to the resuscitation of artist Brian Warlock, locked in a coma for 30 years, and plunges into a dark conspiracy aimed at seizing control of the future. Turner's lucid prose and bold imagination combine in a tale that contains elements of sf noir, police procedural, and metaphysical fiction. Published posthumously (Turner died in 1997), this compelling and disturbing exploration of the darkness of the human soul belongs in most sf collections.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --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
4.0 out of 5 stars Down There in Darkness Aug. 21 2001
By keith
Format:Paperback
I am an Aussie and I stumbled across this book not long ago. I was impressed with the cover so decided to take a chance to read as I had not heard of the author before but since it was an Aussie book i decided to give it ago. I read this book and was very impressed. I wondered why George Turner is unknown when he writes great books such as "Down There in Darkness." I recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories about the near future and the social decay that is predicted with it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Zigs and Zags to a stirring conclusion Oct. 26 2000
Format:Paperback
I found this novel a bit troublesome to read on several accounts. The story is extremely well written and very absorbing, but it takes several great leaps and in so doing leaves the previous plots and major characters behind. The second problem stems from the fact that the author was Australian and has incorporated a fair amount of Australian Koori lore and Australian vernacular into his tale.
That said, I found it a remarkable book. Each "section" is very interesting in its own right. Turner's dark vision of a future Earth is well rendered and gives considerable pause to reflect. The characters are finely wrought, but I feel that the star of this effort is the concept itself.
The intense drama revolving around the "cleansing" of the Earth is as much a shock to us as it is to Gus, one of the few survivors from the bitterly difficult earlier times. The ending of the story is a curious and curiously refreshing twist that speaks of hope and lifts us above the dark brew.
Not a simple read, but highly recommended.
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Format:Hardcover
George Turner was a superb writer, and this novel brings together many themes explored in his earlier novels. The future as distopia, the power of the mind, the bleakness of humanity and it's reactionary procession through time.
As dark as it all sounds, it really is quite illuminating to see the author's vision, and as a tale showing a possible future without shoving cautionary rhetoric down the readers gullet. It *is* a remade "Brave New World"--updated for the new century, and told with the voice of an aging writer who has seen worlds of change in his lifetime. There is a lot more here than is first exposed, and put's this in the "thoughtful" school of science fiction--possibly a bit heavy for some. Entertaining as well as enlightening, and highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the dark future of humanity proves illuminating. May 30 1999
By Edward Alexander Gerster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
George Turner was a superb writer, and this novel brings together many themes explored in his earlier novels. The future as distopia, the power of the mind, the bleakness of humanity and it's reactionary procession through time.
As dark as it all sounds, it really is quite illuminating to see the author's vision, and as a tale showing a possible future without shoving cautionary rhetoric down the readers gullet. It *is* a remade "Brave New World"--updated for the new century, and told with the voice of an aging writer who has seen worlds of change in his lifetime. There is a lot more here than is first exposed, and put's this in the "thoughtful" school of science fiction--possibly a bit heavy for some. Entertaining as well as enlightening, and highly recommended.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zigs and Zags to a stirring conclusion Oct. 26 2000
By Hank Schwartz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this novel a bit troublesome to read on several accounts. The story is extremely well written and very absorbing, but it takes several great leaps and in so doing leaves the previous plots and major characters behind. The second problem stems from the fact that the author was Australian and has incorporated a fair amount of Australian Koori lore and Australian vernacular into his tale.
That said, I found it a remarkable book. Each "section" is very interesting in its own right. Turner's dark vision of a future Earth is well rendered and gives considerable pause to reflect. The characters are finely wrought, but I feel that the star of this effort is the concept itself.
The intense drama revolving around the "cleansing" of the Earth is as much a shock to us as it is to Gus, one of the few survivors from the bitterly difficult earlier times. The ending of the story is a curious and curiously refreshing twist that speaks of hope and lifts us above the dark brew.
Not a simple read, but highly recommended.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Down There in Darkness Aug. 21 2001
By keith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am an Aussie and I stumbled across this book not long ago. I was impressed with the cover so decided to take a chance to read as I had not heard of the author before but since it was an Aussie book i decided to give it ago. I read this book and was very impressed. I wondered why George Turner is unknown when he writes great books such as "Down There in Darkness." I recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories about the near future and the social decay that is predicted with it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Psychological, genetic and sociological sci-fi masterpiece! Jan. 25 2009
By M-I-K-E 2theD - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've been reading constantly reading SF for a full two years now (totaling about 200 books) and I have rarely read anything that grabbed me from the first pages of the book... nor have I rarely read anything that rockets itself into my TOP 5. Down There in Darkness was just that kind of book which I instantly fell in love with also hence put itself into my TOP 5 SF along with classics like We by Yevgeny Zamyatin and Voyage of the Space Beagle by A.E. van Vogt.

An amazing mix of sciences of psychology, genetics and sociology is unfolded into the plot, which spans 130 years (2033, 2068 and 2168)and touches the expanse of human consciousness.

During the 2030s, Earth is in an era similar to the Roaring 20s during the 1920s. The economy is growing (as well as the population) while everyone is blissfully ignorant of the imminent ecological collapse around them. At this time, an experiment is conducted to probe question within the mind through sensory deprivation, which ends in one man becoming comatose.

Fast-forward to the 2060s and the world has obviously taken a turn for the worst: global warming, joblessness, crime, paranoia... the works. Turner writes, "It was a time when murder was commonplace; respect for life was not a prime commandment in a world wherein the vast bulk of population had no hope of rising out of Suss poverty and nurtured little morality beyond self-preservation." Main character Harry gets a strange case about an experiment from the 2030s and is asked to probe the repercussion of the comatose man's wakening. It's shrouded in mystery as the man hasn't aged and has been given over to a cult church by his own wife. Harry calls on his friend Gus to assist him in the awakening along with a psychologist and a host of observers.

The plot then links the story to the year 2168, one hundred years later, and we find Harry and Gus confronting a more terrible future. Here, the few people still alive are "products of an inheritance too garbled for resolution by nationality." They must confront a new world order and the unfortunate history which has passed them by.

It's a mind bending read, which isn't based far from the current speculative future we are seeing today. Turner has rocketed himself into my TOP 5 with this gorgeous read!
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