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A Scientific Romance Paperback – Jul 7 1998

3.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada; 1st Vintage Canada ed edition (July 7 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676971075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676971071
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 281 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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In London at the turn of the 20th century, H. G. Wells's time machine mysteriously appears--empty--in a squatter's flat. Whence did it come, and for what purpose was it sent? The answers to these questions--though not to an even greater mystery connected with the machine's appearance--are contained in a letter written by Wells on May 2, 1946, which falls into the hands of one David Lambert on the eve of the millennium. Lambert, an industrial archeologist, reads the letter foretelling the arrival of the machine and, half convinced the whole thing is a hoax, goes to the address Wells provides, where, at the appointed hour, the time machine materializes. Thus begins Ronald Wright's fine and fantastical novel A Scientific Romance.

Romance can refer to an affair of the heart; it can also describe a heroic tale of extraordinary events. In A Scientific Romance, Wright plays on both possible meanings as he weaves a tragic story of betrayal and lost love into a larger narrative of time travel. Lambert, having lost the woman he loved, is reckless enough to test Wells's machine himself, catapulting 500 years into the future, where he finds London--indeed, all of England--a deserted, semitropical landscape. As David explores the future, he also sifts through his own past, creating in this Möbius strip of time and relationship a chilling cautionary tale about the limits of science and human ambition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

English-born historian Wright, who lives in Canada, is the author of several celebrated works of nonfiction, including Time Among the Maya and Stolen Continents, but his first novel is such a triumph that it's a wonder he didn't get around to writing one earlier. The plot is something of a curiosity: English archeologist David Lambert stumbles upon a Victorian time machine?the very one, it turns out, that H.G. Wells described in his famous novel. When Lambert discovers that he may have the same disease that killed his lover, he lights out for the future: A.D. 2500, to be exact. There Wright creates for him a vivid, compelling world, a depopulated, tropical dream of what had once been England. The book's central drama is Lambert's struggle to excavate and uncover the exact nature of the calamity that erased London. At the same time, he sifts through the shards of his own unhappy personal history?which he is, of course, tempted to touch up a little with the help of the time machine. The narrative bristles with fascinating characters, both fictional and historical, and Wright furnishes it with a rich store of enthralling scientific Victoriana. His writing is charming, unpretentious and wonderfully literate. J.G. Ballard explored this same territory in his disaster novels of the 1970s, but never with Wright's psychological insight or pathos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It may seem to be a contradiction in terms, to use a time machine to travel into the future to pour over the details of one's past. But that's exactly what Ronald Wright accomplishes in his marvelous novel A SCIENTIFIC ROMANCE. Part futuristic travelogue, part nostalgic reminiscences of the past, ROMANCE is a thinking person's science fiction, a completely enthralling apocalyptic dystopia that reveals more about the present-day human heart than one would expect.
Taking a page from H.G. Wells's classic THE TIME MACHINE, Wright has fashioned a fiction based on the 'reality' of a fiction. Wright's protagonist David Lambert, archaeologist and devotee of Victorian machinery, discovers that Wells based his novel upon a factual incident. Lambert subsequently discovers the time machine, intact but riderless, and decides to travel to 2500 A.D.. What he discovers raises more questions than answers about the fate of humanity, but it also raises questions as to what events led Lambert to this point in his life. As he travels the futuristic England countryside, he retraces his past with his friend Bird, and the woman they both love, Anita. The farther Lambert treks through England, the farther his despair over past actions becomes.
Not having perused Wells's classic, I am unable to compare his and Wright's styles. I can reveal that there is a deeply pleasing antiquated feel to Wright's tale; something in his style evokes the nostalgic prose style of Jules Verne. The font also seems charmingly old-fashioned (and for anyone who doesn't believe a font can affect a story, please discover Chip Kidd's terrific novel THE CHEESE MONKEYS, which covers just such a format consideration).
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Format: Hardcover
Since a synopsis of the plot is already printed, I won't bore you running through it here. Unfortunately, I was bored running through the book. What a great premise -- H.G Wells' Time Machine exists and an archeologist is going to take a ride into the future! What a let-down. There's no denying that this is a well-written book, but I like books that are plot and character driven. This book is a great idea. There is little "story" and the characters are poorly developed. Such interesting people and I never got to find out more about them! It's a great hook, but when I expected the book to really take off, it just ran out of gas.
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Format: Hardcover
Ronald Wright's first work of fiction tells the story of David Lambert, a London museum curator who has a terminal illness. Fortunately, he has a time machine (described by H.G. Wells) which he can use to seek a cure. Unfortunately, the London of A.D. 2500 is a steaming wreck, with crocodiles in the Thames and strangler figs on most of the landmarks. David explores the ruins and concludes that no one has lived in London since the early 21st century. He goes to Scotland, where he finds a group of dark-skinned people, and becomes their 'guest'.
"A Scientific Romance" is a very eloquent eco-catastrophe novel. Wright's prose is florid but never pompous; his characters, although stereotypical, are sensibly developed. David Lambert is a flawed, tragic, completely engrossing hero who must deal with the knowledge that he and the Earth are victims of unchecked "Industrial Man". This book deservedly appeared on best-seller lists in Canada and should be sold in other parts of the world without delay.
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Format: Paperback
It is unfortunate that the word romance has come to connote hearts and flowers in our modern world. Reading some of these reviews, I can tell a few readers never really understood the title is a homage to what H.G. Wells and other early science fiction writers' works were dubbed in the late nineteenth and early portion of this century. Romantic fiction was characterized by a love of the natural world not the love between a man and a woman. The plots centered on the fantastic not the sensual. Although the aspect of a "love story" might be present in a romance it was not guaranteed and often, if there was love, the outcome was not very happy and usual came at an awful price. However, Ronald Wright's attempt to recapture the romantic era of the past falls short of those he obviously honors. Wright's main fault, I feel, is the loquacious, intellectual who narrates the novel and continually interrupts with absurd tangental, elliptical sidestories. Three quarters of the novel has passed before any real action takes place, but the reader has been treated to entire histories of incidental characters who otherwise never appear. And by that time I had lost all interest in the Macbeaths of the 24th century. True, Wright's vision of a Pictish future was inventive and unusual, unfortunately the time travelled in getting to that future seemed like an entire millenium.
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Format: Hardcover
If I was being uncharitable I would label this book "science fiction". Like HG Wells, however, the author effortlessly transcends the boundaries of genre. This is a book about humankind, *now*, and about how we are on the verge of sending our world spiralling into ecological destruction. It is also a moving love story, an ironic elegy for the human race, a brilliant adventure yarn and a rigorous and thoughtful read. I have re-read it several times: every time I return to it I get out of it something fresh and new. The closing quotation from Tennyson embodies the sweetly elegiac tone of the book:
The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,/ The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,/ Man comes and tills the fields and lies beneath,/ And after many a summer dies the swan./ Me only cruel immortality / Consumes: I wither slowly in thine arms,/ Here at the quiet limit of the world.
Highly recommended for all eco-warriors, romantics and lovers of excellent modern literature!!
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