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Out on Blue Six Mass Market Paperback – Apr 1 1989


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Spectra (April 1 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553277634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553277630
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,366,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Out on a limb Sept. 12 2002
By Glen Engel Cox - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After my review of McDonald's short story collection, Speaking in Tongues, several people, among them Michael Sumbera, recommended to me what they felt was McDonald's best novel, Out on Blue Six. There was also some attention focused on the novel on rec.arts.sf.written, because of its similarity to Terry Gilliam's "Brazil." The comparison is not misplaced, although McDonald has a different agenda than Gilliam. Both stories feature a huge government that relegates people's lives, in which a small mistake can wreak human lives. That is, both stories are satires on present governments and governmental ideas. But whereas Gilliam plays the satire to the hilt, and goes beyond simple governmental poking, but also poking at individuals within it, ultimately ending on an extremely cynical note, McDonald still feels there's hope to be had. Out on Blue Six is an extremely pyrotechnic novel, full of unknown words and weirdly impossible SF ideas; again, like Snow Crash, this isn't a hard SF novel, but rather a novel of adventure and philosophy. Stephenson pulls it off slightly better, mainly because he isn't concerned with wrapping things up in a denoument, which McDonald does with his story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A great addition to McDonald's works Sept. 18 2008
By Hactar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ian McDonald, as usual, comes up with a fascinating idea for a novel and manages, with a few pitfalls, to write a wonderful book utilizing it. Featuring an ensemble cast, Out On Blue Six traces the adventures of several dispirit groups through the canopy and subterranean levels of a self-contained futuristic city.

The dis/utopian nature of the society reads somewhat like an optimistic version of Brazil, or a function version of the Paranoia games. Avoiding pain is the highest priority of the computers that run the society, so people are told what is best for them with no ability to argue. A few vignettes in the novel focus on this, but a great deal more is focused on the edges of the society.

The one downside to this book is the treatment of the ensemble. My favorite character, a Yulp comic artist, who starts the book, seems to fade into the background as characters with stronger survival skills are introduced. Other than this small issue, the book is a truly fantastic piece of work. It's a shame that it's out of print, but it still is readily available and worth a read.
Really bizarre! Oct. 28 2014
By Kat Hooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

Courtney Hall is a cartoonist because that’s the job she’s been assigned by the tyrannical government agencies that dictate all of the details of everyone’s life — where they live, who their friends are, who they marry, what job they do. The goal of the government, which consists of such agencies as the Ministry of Pain, the Compassionate Society, and the Love Police, is to analyze every citizen’s genes and personality so that they can be assigned to the lifestyle that will minimize their pain and maximize their happiness, thus creating a populace that is obedient and compliant. The government assures that its dictates are adhered to by monitoring all activity and censoring criticism.

Most people seem content in the Compassionate Society because they like being pain-free, doing a job that they love (even if they’re not good at it) and being married to people who they’re compatible with (even if they don’t love them). But some people, including Courtney Hall, think there must be something more to life than avoiding pain and conflict. If she voices her opinions, or opposes the government’s decisions for her, she’ll be called in for reprogramming and have her mind wiped. When Courtney creates a satirical comic and finds herself on the run, she discovers a group of dissidents living under the city and joins their fight for freedom.

So far Out on Blue Six sounds like a typical dystopian novel. You’re probably expecting something like Nineteen Eighty-Four or Fahrenheit 451 but, to stick with the number-in-the-title theme, Out on Blue Six has more in common with Slaughterhouse-Five than either of those dystopias. It’s bizarre. Really bizarre. In fact, it feels much more like something Philip K. Dick would have written, except that Ian McDonald is a far better stylist.

The story is strange all the way through, but the weirdest part is when Courtney spends time with the underground rebels. Their “expedition to the end of the world” is surreal and filled with all sorts of oddities such as a six-breasted goddess, a man with no memories, the King of Nebraska, a group of performance artists who call themselves the Raging Apostles, a race of cyborg raccoons, and a computer program that might be God. Through her travels and interactions, Courtney begins to realize what is wrong with her “compassionate” society and how the experience of pain underlies morality and creativity.

Out on Blue Six is wildly creative, beautifully written, often funny, has a clear message, and ends on a hopeful note. Yet it feels disjointed, frenetic, and over-stimulating, like an acid trip (or, at least, what I think an acid trip must feel like). Thus, while I admired the novel and found it fascinating, I didn’t always enjoy it. There were no characters that I cared about and I never felt grounded in McDonald’s world because there was something new and bizarre around every corner. I love weird, but this was weird overload. Still, I’m glad I read Out on Blue Six and some of its language and images will stick with me forever.

I listened to the audio version produced by Audible Studios and read by Jeff Harding. I suspect that narrating this book was extremely difficult. The narrative voice is intrusive, frenzied, chaotic, repetitive, and full of neologisms and sound effects. There are plays, sportscasts, committee meetings, official letters from the government, and talking raccoons. Jeff Harding managed it all brilliantly. It is an impressive performance.
Still want the movie! Oct. 24 2009
By Tad Kershner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this when it first came out, and I thought someone would snatch up the movie rights because it is so cinematic. Sadly, it's been ten years and no one has. McDonald renders his world so visually in this book that you picture the scenes vividly while you read. The characters are quirky and fascinating, and the story is a lot of fun. This is a hidden gem that deserves to be more widely read.
Fantastic sci fi May 12 2014
By lawrence andreth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Everything you could ask for. Great characters, dystopian with an optimistic look to the future. Religion, art, commerce, science, all rolled up into a sexy sci fi burrito.

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