From acclaimed author Jon Courtenay Grimwood comes an exotic new novel that defies expectation at every turn. A mystery, a thriller, and a cutting-edge sci-fi adventure all in one, Stamping Butterfliesbends time, genre, and consciousness itself to tell the spellbinding story of two worlds, three lives, one future-and the question upon which everything depends: who is dreaming whom.... From Marrakech to China's Forbidden City, from a doomed starship carrying a cryogenically preserved crew to an island prison camp, the fate of the world is being played out in the minds of two dreamers. One, a would-be assassin obsessed with enigmatic equations, has set out to kill the U.S. President. The other is a young Chinese emperor ruling thousands of years in the future. Each believes he is dreaming the other. One must change the future; one must change the past. And time is running out for both. Caught in the maelstrom is a motley cast of characters, each an unwitting key to the ultimate fate of both worlds: Moz, a resourceful young Marrakech street punk, and his half-German girlfriend, Malika; Jake Razor, a self-exiled rock star; and psychiatrist Katie Petrov, who finds herself racing against a looming death sentence to pry free the secret of her condemned patient-a secret with the power to restore hope to the future...or
Grimwood stumbles in this ambitious SF stand-alone, which falls short of the high mark set by his Arabesk trilogy (Pashazade, etc.), hard-boiled mysteries set in a near-future where the Ottoman Empire still exists. Grimwood alternates between the present-day efforts of an assassin to kill the U.S. president and a more cryptic future story line set aboard a Chinese spaceship. While the two plots eventually converge in a way most time-travel fans will have anticipated, the whole proves to be less than the sum of its parts. The action can become confusing and the language overblown. As usual, though, the author displays much cunning and wit as he grapples seriously with political themes. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 28, 2006
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Excerpt from Stamping Butterflies by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Marrakech, Saturday 12 May
President Gene Newman liked visiting new cities. In fact, he liked it so much he took the trouble to have one of his interns write up brief histories for each city he was about to visit. The note for Marrakech, named for Marra Kouch (meaning unknown), and peopled mainly by Berbers, being North Africans in direct descent from a prehistoric Ibero-Mauretanian culture, had run to five pages and been crammed full of similar facts.
When challenged, the intern informed the President that she hadn't been allowed enough time to make her essay shorter and he should try harder with the history. She was allowed to say things like that. Ally was his only daughter.
"Enjoying yourself?" the US ambassador asked.
The correct response was Yes. So Ally nodded, despite midday heat which had sweat running down her spine and was already making embarrassing stains under the arms of her T-shirt.
Most of Marrakech had turned out to watch the new American President, his daughter and their bodyguards trudge across the sticky expanse of Djemaa el Fna, North Africa's most famous square. They were accompanied on this walk by a very senior minister of the Moroccan government and the US ambassador, who was doing his best to look unruffled by the jellaba-clad crowds who pushed against hastily erected barriers.
Gene Newman was here against the advice of his own staff, mostly to prove that he was not the previous incumbent, a man given to calling up generals for advice when playing Command and Conquer on the PS2. So said Ally, who'd got it from another intern who had it from a woman on the switchboard. It was a good story, but probably not true.