Buy Used
CDN$ 0.39
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by bwbuk_ltd
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Your purchase also supports literacy charities.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Jack Faust Hardcover


See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
CDN$ 0.39

2014 Books Gift Guide for Children & Teens
Browse our featured books to find gift ideas for the boys or girls on your holiday shopping list this year!


Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: London: Orion/Millennium
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857985176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857985177
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.4 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
0
4 star
1
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
While Swanwick may not ever achieve the status of a Thomas Mann, he has penned a quite creative reworking of the traditional Faustian myth. Casting his vision on the template of science fiction, Swanwick adds interesting dimensions to the already complex Faustian characters. Mephistopheles appears as an alien force; as arrogant and manipulative an extraterrestrial as he ever was a demon. Margarete still appears as the innocent caught in the crossfire of evil and eviler. Wagner, the fanatic sycophant, who never realizes that not only is he a pawn, but he's a pawn that neither side cares enough to either advance or gambit. And Faust, the perpetual megalomaniac. His desire to master thoughts ends up making thoughts his master. He creates and creates but with no purpose except the creation, much like a pathogen. Ultimately the purpose, as in the traditional legend, serves those who gave him the tools to create.
And in all this richness, Swanwick adds. This is a message to the future, our future, which is nightmarishly similar to Faust's reality. Ushering in an UltraIndustrial revolution, Faust overwhelms too many with too much and as Mehpistopheles knows, the gifts that mechanization brings to fruition are never used for benefit. For example, one of the first films produced after the invention of film (in the book) is no less than a pornographic movie (the title being a colorful four letter word starting with "f"). And in this uncontrollable momentum, this Newtonian nightmare, no end is in sight. Indeed, no end is possible. Like a vehicle out of control people will die because of the chaos. Mephistopheles is counting on the entire world to die. And he is not disappointed.
Swanwicks reason for the reworking. Knowledge doesn't make us more certain of a future.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Creative Reworking of the Faust Legend July 7 2003
By "netchild" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
While Swanwick may not ever achieve the status of a Thomas Mann, he has penned a quite creative reworking of the traditional Faustian myth. Casting his vision on the template of science fiction, Swanwick adds interesting dimensions to the already complex Faustian characters. Mephistopheles appears as an alien force; as arrogant and manipulative an extraterrestrial as he ever was a demon. Margarete still appears as the innocent caught in the crossfire of evil and eviler. Wagner, the fanatic sycophant, who never realizes that not only is he a pawn, but he's a pawn that neither side cares enough to either advance or gambit. And Faust, the perpetual megalomaniac. His desire to master thoughts ends up making thoughts his master. He creates and creates but with no purpose except the creation, much like a pathogen. Ultimately the purpose, as in the traditional legend, serves those who gave him the tools to create.
And in all this richness, Swanwick adds. This is a message to the future, our future, which is nightmarishly similar to Faust's reality. Ushering in an UltraIndustrial revolution, Faust overwhelms too many with too much and as Mehpistopheles knows, the gifts that mechanization brings to fruition are never used for benefit. For example, one of the first films produced after the invention of film (in the book) is no less than a pornographic movie (the title being a colorful four letter word starting with "f"). And in this uncontrollable momentum, this Newtonian nightmare, no end is in sight. Indeed, no end is possible. Like a vehicle out of control people will die because of the chaos. Mephistopheles is counting on the entire world to die. And he is not disappointed.
Swanwicks reason for the reworking. Knowledge doesn't make us more certain of a future. It could very well be the opposite. What makes us certain of a future is knowledge used properly. Knowledge used without greed, without vanity; knowledge used with humanity, with compassion. Creation for a higher purpose. Faust was like a child who desired a toy and once that toy was possessed, only desired another which he did not have. It is not how much one knows, but how one uses that knowledge which they already possess . . . to help others. All this can be gathered from the classical workings of the myth. What Swanwick adds is a slight, but significant twist. In giving Jack Faust the knowledge to create scientific wonders without end, Mephistopheles knew that WE, as a people, would misuse them, regardless of if Faust misused them or not (he did). And that is the beauty, that is the addition Swanwick gives us to the Faust legend. We are all Faust. We are all culpable. Because we all had a hand in our own damnation. And consequently, if we are all Faust, we can all stop this damanation. We have a choice to stop the "death instinct", as Freud called it. But guilty or innocent we will drag each other down or lift each other up. It is, in the end, a simple matter of choice.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The blind pursuit of knowledge leads to disaster Oct. 4 2005
By Henry W. Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Medieval scholar Johannes Faust is frustrated, having gone as far as he can in his pursuit of knowledge. Enraged by his situation, he begins destroying his library, consigning dozens of precious tomes to the flames. He prays for release from his torment, pledging his soul in return for knowledge.

Enter Mephistopheles, a being from another dimension, who promises Faust the knowledge he longs for, requiring only that Faust must be attentive to his teachings, and that he accept the consequences of his newly gained intellectual wealth. Even after being told that his knowledge will bring mankind to ruin, Faust concludes Mephistopheles has to be wrong (how could knowledge be bad, after all?) and begs him for his insights.

The devil/alien grants Faust's wish and tragedy ensues. Faust's initial attempts to share his scientific advances with his fellow scholars are met with derision and scorn. It is only after he finds practical uses for them (like creating weapons of mass destruction) that people take notice. The increasingly misanthropic Faust ushers in the advances of the Industrial Age hundreds of years early, and, by book's end, seems destined to fulfill Mephistopheles dire predictions.

This dark, witty, sarcastic book was one of the best reads of 1997, a well written, engrossing alternate history/fantasy. While exploring his own themes, Swanwick also makes the point that Jack Dann made in his excellent novel The Memory Cathedral: that man, by nature, is a brutal creature, who, given a choice, will pervert the wonders of science. Unlike Dann's protagonist (Leonardo da Vinci), Swanwick's Faust is virtually blind to the mayhem he's created, and becomes the prime mover in humanity's inexorable march to extinction. Faust seeks to lift humanity out of the dark ages, but only hastens its descent. Swanwick seems to be reminding readers of the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for, because you may get it." Doing so, he provides a valuable, and extremely winning entertainment.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A compelling, if rather melancholy story. Sept. 16 1997
By Jason Black - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Few science fiction novels are set in pre-renaissance Europe. In fact, I can think of none besides "Jack Faust". I see this book largely as an allegory for the present day, in which we invent new technologies--often astonishingly powerful ones, with far reaching effects--faster than society can come up with new mores and social structures for dealing with them. As such, the author does a good job of presenting his warning to us by means of a fictional history whose events seem as obvious and unavoidable as tomorrow's dawn once they are set into motion. And yet he does so in a way that kept me turning pages one after the other.

As a whole, however, I found certain aspects of the book somewhat disturbing. More so because I cannot tell whether they come from the author himself or are natural artifacts of the story and the characters' evolutions. If you do purchase this book (and don't get me wrong; I'm not sorry I bought a copy), be prepared to confront some subtle mysogynies, racist attitudes, and the like. But as I say, I cannot tell whether these are the author's own beliefs or simply reflections of the times in which the novel is set.
A thought provoking meditation on technology and history. Jan. 9 1998
By morrison@mail.nhn.ou.edu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Swanwick's earlier novels (Stations of the Tide, The Iron Dragon's Daughter) and his short stories (collected in Gravity's Angels) only hint at the scale, ambition, and power of Jack Faust. From the opening paragraphs, which introduce us to 16th century Wittenberg and hint ominously at the "pleasant suicidal fantasy of the spark that would come to liberate its timbers into explosive fire", Swanwick's meticulous, often metaphorical prose paints rich sensory portraits of Faust's time and place. That the plot follows the traditional lines of Goethe's Faust adds rather than detracts from the surprises Swanwick has in store. For hereMephistopheles is an extraterrestrial devil---a magnificent, protean being who accompanies Faust throughout his life, whether he wants company or not---and the pact Faust makes mirrors the compact humanity has made with 20th century technology. Thus Swanwick sets up a tale which ranges all over Europe and throughout Faust's life, culminating in as darkly nihilistic vision of the human prospect I've encountered in a long time. Unlike many SF authors who have explored similar territory, Swanwick never flinches from the implications of his novel's take on human nature and its infinite corruptibility. Lest I leave the impression that Jack Faust is a downer, let me add that the sheer pleasure of Swanwick's prose, sentence by sentence, page by page, makes this book a luxuriant, compelling read. And the wit and invention he brings to the problem of telling a story which necessarily must span several decades all but demands rereading, which the novel rewards handsomely. Best of all, this novel is about something: the nature of history, logic versus faith in a technological society, and above all the challenge that the runaway technological engine of the 20th century poses to all of us as that century seques into the next. Buy the hardcover; you'll want this one for your permanent collection.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Swanwick yearns to be taken seriously Jan. 10 1998
By macheney@hopper.unh.edu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Maybe I came to this book with too many expectations -- Michael Swanwick is an author whose work I respect, and "Jack Faust" looked like an attempt to bring literary and moral values to the fantasy genre. The problem is that the story of Faust already has about as much moral and literary value as it is possible to have, thanks to Marlowe and Goethe. So what was Swanwick thinking?
The premise is eternally compelling, and Swanwick gives it a fun spin: what if Faust gains access to all the scientific knowledge in the universe, and is therefore able to compress every industrial and post-industrial revolution into a single generation, so that ultimately even atomic power will come to the 16th century. The joy of such alternate world stories is in the details: what are the political and social implications of the changes? What would the 16th century FEEL like with automobiles and mass production? Unfortunately, Swanwick is more concerned with keeping his plot moving, so the tale is a quick read but not a stimulating one. Swanwick shows us nothing we have not seen before, and by the second half of the book it is difficult to care about anything that is going on.
Even if you come to it with much lower expectations than I did, it would be hard to find "Jack Faust" any more than a mild entertainment disguised as an intellectual and literary exercise. For entertainment, read any of Swanwick's other works. For intellectual and literary exercise, try Pynchon's "Mason & Dixon". (Unlike Pynchon, Swanwick seems to have studied only the history of the era he chose to write about, not the literature. Despite the lugubriously descriptive writing in the first few pages, Swanwick's Wittenberg remains indistinct.) And if variations on the story of Faust are what most interest you, check out Klaus Mann's "Mephisto".
There is nothing wrong with science fiction and fantasy writers striving to be taken seriously as artists. Many have succeeded, including Swanwick. But "Jack Faust" is a specimen of such sloppy thought and construction that it doesn't deserve to be taken seriously as fantasy, never mind anything more.

Look for similar items by category


Feedback