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Anax thinks she knows history. Her grueling all-day Examination has just begun, and if she passes, she’ll be admitted into the Academy—the elite governing institution of her utopian society. But Anax is about to discover that for all her learning, the history she’s been taught isn’t the whole story. And the Academy isn’t what she believes it to be. In this brilliant novel of dazzling ingenuity, Anax’s examination leads us into a future where we are confronted with unresolved questions raised by science and philosophy. Centuries old, these questions have gained new urgency in the face of rapidly developing technology. What is consciousness? What makes us human? If artificial intelligence were developed to a high enough capability, what special status could humanity still claim? Outstanding and original, Beckett’s dramatic narrative comes to a shocking conclusion.

150 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2006

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About the author

Bernard Beckett

23 books192 followers
Bernard Beckett, born in 1967, is a high school teacher based in Wellington, New Zealand, where he teaches drama, mathematics, and English. Genesis was written while he was in a Royal Society genetics research fellowship investigating DNA mutations. The book has already received international acclaim, including two literary prizes in Beckett's native New Zealand. Rights to Genesis have been sold in twenty-one countries.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,970 reviews
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
May 20, 2011

5.0 stars. Okay folks, this is a must read alert. I was expecting this to be decent but I was blown away by how excellent it turned out to be. Focused, powerful and imaginative. This one is a keeper.

As many others have said (but it is certainly worth repeating) this should not be considered a YA novel. Yes, the protagonist is a teenage girl, but that is the only YA connection to this story. This has much more in common with 1984 than Harry Potter.

This is a superbly realized and eerily believable dystopian SF story that deals with some important issues. The book also has a very original framing narrative device. The main character, Anax (short for Anaximander), is undergoing a final exam of sorts that will take place over a 5 hour period. The entire story takes place within these 5 hours and through her examination, the story of the history of the world, the creation of the dystopian society (of course they don’t see it that way) and how the society is presently constituted.

The novel is only 150 pages long which tracks the 5 hour length of the exam. I listened to the audio version and it was almost exactly 5 hours long and kept pace with the time in the novel (i.e., 30 minutes in the story was pretty much 30 minutes of the audio book). I thought this was clever as was using an “exam” as the narrative format it provides a great vehicle to describe the world. Suddenly any exposition and background information becomes simply part of the oral exam. Again, very well done.

One of the fundamental themes explored in the novel is fear and the effect that it can have on breaking down a society (sound familiar). The exploration of this issue is intelligent, and credible way and I was very impressed with how deftly it was portrayed by the author. The language is very readable but also incredibly thought-provoking.

For example, in addition to the excerpt I quoted above, here is a passage where Anax is responding to a question about the causes for our world’s decline which led to the formation of the “Republic” of the story:
Superstition is the need to view the world in terms of simple cause and effect. As I have already said, religious fundamentalism was on the rise, but that is not the type of superstition I am referring to. The superstition that held sway at the time was a belief in simple causes.

Even the plainest of events is tied down by a thick tangle of permutation and possibility, but the human mind struggles with such complexity. In times of trouble, when the belief in simple gods breaks down, a cult of conspiracy arises. So it was back then. Unable to attribute misfortune to chance, unable to accept their ultimate insignificance within the greater scheme, the people looked for monsters in their midst.

The more the media peddled fear, the more the people lost the ability to believe in one another. For every new ill that befell them, the media created an explanation, and the explanation always had a face and a name. The people came to fear even their closest neighbors. At the level of the individual, the community, and the nation, people sought signs of others’ ill intentions; and everywhere they looked, they found them, for this is what looking does.

This was the true challenge the people of this time faced. The challenge of trusting one another. And they fell short…
Uh….does anyone else think that people could be making very similar statements about the times we live in 100 years from now? Personally, I thought this was a brilliant depiction of the extremes that fear can lead people.

This has earned a spot among my very favorite dystopian stories. It is an extraordinary novel full of important ideas and also a stark commentary on where we are now. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
Profile Image for Lyndsey.
126 reviews3,188 followers
January 11, 2012
Kindle edition is on sale for about $5 HERE!!

This is what I call an "experience" book.

You may not find yourself inside the world like in an "escapism" story, instead you feel as if your viewing it from the outside. It's intent is to help you reflect upon and experience your own life, not necessarily that of the characters. Another more well-known example of this type of book would be 1984.

You breath on your own instead of with the characters. You are able to see the story more objectively, without having unhealthy attachments to the characters. You don't think "If something happens to the this character, I will never forgive the author." You are still invested, but not so much so that it clouds your judgement.

An experience novel asks you to logically consider the story and it's implications. It asks you to experience. It asks you to think.

Genesis is truly incredible! You will probably either be completely put off by it or you will be blown away by it. I was one of the latter. Either way, it WILL make you think about why we exist and the implications of that existence.

Here is a partial synopsis from the publishers:

Set on a remote island in a post-apocalyptic, plague-ridden world, this electrifying novel is destined to become a modern classic.

Anax thinks she knows her history. She’d better. She’s now facing three Examiners, and her grueling all-day Examination has just begun. If she passes, she’ll be admitted into the Academy—the elite governing institution of her utopian society.

But Anax is about to discover that for all her learning, the history she’s been taught isn’t the whole story. And that the Academy isn’t what she believes it to be.

I usually go for longer books or series books, but this is a unlikely exception. It makes me wish that there were more of these well thought-out, groundbreaking novellas. If anyone has a recommendation of something similar, well plotted short books, I would love to hear about it.

I really think everyone should read it, especially considering it's a meager 150 pages and manages to raise philosophical arguments and tell a complete dystopian story in those few pages. You'll either love it or hate it, but either way, it will make your brain melt.

I wouldn't exactly call this book fast-paced, but that is why it's short length is perfect! The overall experience of a book is sometimes what makes or breaks it's rating. And a lot of times the ending can make all the difference.

I just want to make perfectly clear that the ending of this book is, without a doubt, the most impactful ending I have EVER read in any book. I am not exaggerating.

Ever since finishing it, I have been aching for a book to send my mind spinning as much as this one did. I so want to experience another read like this or go back in time and experience this one again.

Edit: It has been well over a year since I read this book and I still think about it constantly. It's so so memorable and it should only take a couple hours at most to read.

If you are discouraged by the state of so-called dystopian books lately, I beg you to read this book. I don't care if you buy it, borrow it from the library, or sit down in the store and read it (which is totally fine, right?) - just READ it. Add it to your "must read now" bookshelf. If you don't have a bookshelf called that, create it now. :-) You know you want too.

This book is only 150 pages long, but well worth those few pages. If you think that you'll like Genesis, it may be a great investment for you.

I cannot say enough about this book and give it my highest possible recommendation. Yes, I know that I'm really pimping this book hard, but I can't help it. It is incredibly profound and really captured my attention and hasn't let go. But now, it's up to you...

And please, please, please. If you are even a tad interested in this book, don't read anything else about it. Just go read it. It is so much better if you have no idea what to expect.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
785 reviews12.5k followers
April 27, 2023
I was getting smug thinking I figured out where this book was taking me. And then last few pages came, and I all I was able to say was, "Heh. Ummm. Okay. Well, then. Heh." I know, my eloquence is astounding.

"The only thing binding individuals together is ideas. Ideas mutate, and spread; they change their hosts as much as their hosts change them."
Normally I don't care much for spoilers. I can even pompously say that it's the journey I care about, not the destination. (Believe it or not, in the past I used to read the last page of the book before I started it from the beginning. I stopped doing that after I read the last page of "Dark Tower" - you King fans know what I mean!). But I heeded Jim's advice to go into this one completely unspoiled - and man, am I glad I did that! I guessed about half of the ending; but it's the OTHER un-guessed part that gutted me.
"Art was right. In the end, living is defined by dying. Bookended by oblivion, we are caught in the vice of terror, squeezed to bursting by the approaching end. Fear is ever-present, waiting to be called to the surface.
Change brought fear, and fear brought destruction.
But I can tell you this much about the plot without being spoiler-y in any way. It is set in the future where an aspiring young scholar Anax, in her attempt to join the legendary Academy, presents her research on Adam Forde, an important historical figure in this world. Oh, and there also is Art - that is, Artificial Intelligence.

This book is told in quite an unconventional fashion. Its structure reminded me a bit of the books I've read for my Classics courses in college. Written as mostly a dialogue, an exposition about the events in which Adam was involved, it made me think of works such as Plato's Symposium (oh hey there, Plato! *waves*) - where tell, not show was how things were done. This particular structure, this tone set this story apart from others I've read recently, and give it a very distinct feel.

And with that distinct feel and voice, this book proceeded to delve into philosophical matters, reminding me a bit of the college slightly-wine-fueled discussions about meaning of life and humanity and what it means to be alive, and all of that stuff that seems profound and frequently is, and is insanely difficult to voice in a coherent way (*). But apparently this was not an issue for this book - maybe because it took away the wine-fueled part ;)

(*) Yes, in college I managed to hang out with the people with whom I could actually and seriously have these conversations. My college friends were amazing, I must say. UC Berkeley rocks (insert a mandatory "Go Bears!" here!) And they would have appreciated this book verily muchly.
"Unable to attribute misfortune to chance, unable to accept their ultimate insignificance within the greater scheme, the people looked for monsters in their midst.

The more the media peddled fear, the more the people lost the ability to believe in one another. For every new ill that befell them, the media created an explanation, and the explanation always had a face and a name. The people came to fear even their closest neighbors. At the level of the individual, the community, and the nation, people sought signs of others' ill intentions; and everywhere they looked, they found them. for this is what looking does.

That was the true challenge the people of this time faced. The challenge of trusting one another. And they fell short of this challenge.
All I can really say is that I anticipated a very different turn of events. I was expecting quite a bit more moralistic conclusion, and was almost ready to be semi-disappointed by it, based on where I thought it was heading. And then I got blindsided. In a good way. And it made me think. Really use those thinking muscles. I could almost hear those rusty brain wheels and cogs squeaking - what are we, humans, really about? What makes us any different from machines? What makes us unique? Is there anything that makes us unique? Are we just full of prejudice when we want it to be so?

"People did as they were told because they were working together, focused on a common threat, a shared enemy. But time passes. Fear becomes a memory. Terror becomes routine; it loses its grip."
In its short 150 pages this book manages to touch on the issues of freedom, fear and unity in a society. It manages to explore consciousness and self-awareness. It touches on the questions of trust and betrayal. It addresses how we view and portray history, and how it may serve as a tool or a weapon. It explores the idea of Idea and its contagiousness. It shows that, as we often suspect, things are not what they seem to be. It shows us that there are consequences for that. And it has just the right amount of philosophy to be perfectly challenging and interesting.
"I can't comment on the minds of others. But I can say I believe it suits our purpose to make Adam the noble fool. This is always the problem with building heroes. To keep them pure, we must build them stupid. The world is built on compromise and uncertainty, and such a place is too complex for heroes to flourish."
In a way this book reminded me - in spirit - of another book featuring AI that I've read this year - Valente's Silently and Very Fast. Now don't misunderstand me - these two books are different like night and day, but they share a common motif on intelligence and thinking and being alive, and take such different and yet equally thought-provoking approaches to it that it'd be very interesting to read them back-to-back. To those who haven't read either one of these, I'd recommend that.

All this said, I'm very impressed by this book. I wish I could say more, but it's hard if I want to keep this review spoiler-free, and I fully intend to keep my promise on that. So I will just give it 4.5 stars and a heartfelt recommendation.
"Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear, by superstition."
And here is the link for the excellent review by Jim. Thanks, Jim, for bringing my attention to this one. And thanks, Catie, for sending this book to me. I owe both of you, guys!

Recommended by: Jim
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
852 reviews3,882 followers
February 15, 2021

*drinks a tenth cup of coffee*

God, being sleep-deprived is so very much like being drunk, without the laugh. I hate it. ANYWAY. Reading Genesis must have worn my few remaining energy cells out, because I have a hard time typing on my keyboard. What the hell?! I'd better go to the point. Here's how it went :

[fast backward of the hologram]

The EXAMINER studies me carefully during an indefinite length of time. As I was warned during my training, his features don't betray any emotion and -

Alright, this is bullshit. The Examiner is my boyfriend, is slightly frowning, looking both curious and amused.

BF : What is it?

ME, suddenly turning to face him : Whaaat?

BF : You've been staring into space for 15 minutes.

ME : I did?

BF : You did.

ME : That's because I just read the most AMAZING book!

BF : Oh? What's it about?

ME : I CANNOT SAY, (emerge from my lethargy and look frenetically at the novel page on Goodreads) I have to find it in French and then you can read it. (start whispering, for some unknown reason) I cannot say anything, you have to go blind -

BF : It's a Thriller then?

ME, in a high pitched voice : Not reallyyyyy, more like Science-Fiction blended with Philosophy and Ethics? But then, the whole story revolves around the interview of the main character who wishes to be admitted in an Academy we know nothing about, in a world we know nothing about, and she's being questioned about an History we know nothing about ...

BF : Huh, it seems a little confusing?

ME : Yes and no, actually. Confusing does seem like a good word to describe it, because we have no idea what's going on, but it wasn't a problem for me whatsoever so I don't really know? Perhaps it was just my kind of weird?

BF : You didn't sleep though, and you still read it in one sitting, so -

ME : YES! First the writing was so addictive and the questions - the QUESTIONS - they talked to me, you know? I mean, it's a little frightening to see how relevant they are, especially lately - but always, really - we do let politics and medias tell us that complex situations and problems can be explained by simple causes - and resolved by simple actions, without regards to decency and common sense. Look at the terrorist attacks, the increase of unemployment, the financial crisis and how politics keep looking for one group of people, one country, one system to blame, forever using fear...

BF : Wait, I thought it was science-fiction?

ME : It is, but it's so very relatable all the same, in the fact that there are no instant answers that would explain or solve everything? That it makes you think about what it means to be a human? Honestly, if you're not afraid of unusual reads and can cope with delaying your understanding, you're going to LOVE this.

(clutch the book to my chest and smile in a borderline crazy way, then stare into space again)

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Megs ♥.
160 reviews1,284 followers
February 13, 2012

Well, this must be my lucky week. Reading two 5-star books one after another is not something that often happens to me. Of course, I love reading 5-star books, but the problem I have is reviewing them, because I always feel like what I say is not going to do the fantastic books justice.

Genesis was recommended to me about a week ago from a friend on Goodreads. I actually had never even heard of it until then. Usually when a friend recommends a book it takes me a few months to get to it. My friend didn't have her own review she simply said the book was amazing and I needed to check it out. Once I did the first thing I saw was that it's classified as YA dystopia. I became apprehensive about reading this after my horrible experiences with YA dystopias recently. I then dug deeper and stumbled on some rave reviews including those from Stephen and Trudi just to name a few. I knew all of them wouldn't let me down, and figured what the heck? It's 150 pages, right?

This book was 86 pages on the e-reader, but it packs quite a punch in those 86 pages. I recommend anyone who is interested in reading this book simply stop reading this review and read the book. As so many others have said this book will be best enjoyed going into it blindly.

Anaximander is a 17 year old girl. That is about the extent of the YA connections, so please don't pass this book up like I almost did just because of it's YA dystopia label. Anax is basically telling the story through an examination she is taking in hopes to become a member of The Academy, which is the highest institution in The Republic. The examination feels almost like a trial, where she is having questions fired at her. She must respond quickly, but thoroughly.

Genesis really impressed me. While reading, and even a few days after I'm left thinking about so many questions this book posed in regards to life. I guarantee after you read this you will be left pondering quite a few things, too. You will never see the ending coming in a million years. It is like a slap in the face that leaves you staggering and you're like "uhh, what just happened?" But it a good way!

This book has clever, dark writing, and it's very unique. Also, it is full of memorable quotes. Here is just one I liked.

"If you kill me, you kill me. I'm not worrying about it. Take my life if you must, just don't think you're getting my mind."

Recommend this to everyone, honestly! Check this book out. It's only going to take a few hours of your time at the most to read it, so you have nothing to lose.

I'm worried I can't do this book justice with my simple review, so if you still aren't convinced check out these two:

Trudi's Amazing Review

Stephen's Amazing Review

5/5 Stars Thank you for the excellent recommendation, Jency.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
March 24, 2011
I agree with my fellow Goodreader, Genesis has no business being marketed as a YA dystopia. It should have been published by Subterranean Press or Night Shade along with Ted Chiang's and Paolo Bacigalupi's works to find its most welcoming audience.

The setting of the novel is indeed dystopian and the main character is a teen, but other than that Genesis has little to do with YA dystopian genre. It is a novel of ideas, philosophical even. Its main focus is the genesis of consciousness in AI (artificial intelligence, not American Idol).

The writing style is dry, the plot is delivered primarily in a form of academic dialog. But the story itself is highly challenging and engaging, even though it lacks a certain... human factor I guess.

Proceed only if you are not averse to philosophizing about utopian societies, nature of humanity and free will.
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
395 reviews696 followers
June 27, 2017
"Today she would assume nothing"

Such a brilliant mindset for the readers of Genesis to be in!

Clever and philosophical, original and imaginative. But be warned my friends: it's suprer dense and as I'm writing this, I'm full of trepidation it has put me in a slump. Well let us hope not!

This is basically reading a history book which consists of almost only info dump, and yet... I enjoyed this. Maybe because the story is, often than not, peppered throughout with philosophical thoughts and cautious words. Some very unique writing going on - my god what is this trick the author played here?! Art's voice was so cute & inquiring and oh my gosh just raised my protective instinct to the max!

The "reveal" did make my eyes go wide, yes but I can't say I cared much. Although considering the format and the length, the book did manage to kept my attention if nothing else...

That cover though

Profile Image for carol..
1,575 reviews8,230 followers
July 26, 2019
I present for your consideration this 150 page work by Bernard Beckett. While we might expect a story framed as a four-hour thesis presentation would be dry, the use of historical reinactments as well as the integration of personal memories and thoughts of Anax, the lead charcter, give it an unexpected liveliness. Thus, though it occasionally has the feel of a Socratic dialogue, it is a surprisingly quick read.

Anax is applying to The Academy, and her thesis project is on Adam Forde, one of the key historical figures in the Republic, an island nation founded and isolated behind a sea wall while the rest of the world went through climate change and infighting.

"EXAMINER: Define spirit.

The Examiner's voice was carefully modulated, the sort of effect that could be achieved with the cheapest of filters. Only it wasn't technology that Anax heard; it was control, pure and simple. Ever pause, every flickering of uncertainty: the Examiners observed them all. This, surely, was how they decided. Anax felt suddenly slow and unimpressive. She could still hear Pericles' last words. "They want to see how you will respond to the challenge. Don't hesitate. Talk your way toward understanding. Trust the words." And back then it had seemed so simple...

ANAXIMANDER: By spirit I mean to say something about the prevailing mood of the time. Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear, and superstition. By the year 2050, when the conflict began, the world had fallen upon fearful, superstitious times."

I present to you a novel of ideas, and like a novel geared towards the young and new adult reader, some of the ideas are intriguing in presentation but ultimately, lack both subtlety of thought and depth of discussion. I posit the somewhat heretical view that Beckett becomes constrained by format and that his desire for a surprise ending limits what can be achieved.

The history of the Republic apparently hinges on an AI learning through interaction with Adam. For me, that was a major stop point when I first read it. Like the teenagers who venture into the basement in a horror movie, there was no good rationale politically, so I felt very conscious of either a deus ex machina or a complicated political rationale that did not square with Anax's presentaiton.

Still, once I accepted this shockingly illogical construction, the rest of the book flowed smoothly. I appreciated the discussion of ideas, and while I had anticipated this might be the tinest sleep-inducing novel, it wasn't in the least. I think that, as much as anything, demonstrates how surface level the points raised were--let us call it Overview of Philosophy. That isn't a complaint, mind you; it's a statement meant to provide illumination for potential readers. 

As a final note, I'll say that unlike others, I disliked the ending. I felt like it was trickery over story/world congruity. Still, an otherwise enjoyable, thought-provoking read that's an unusual entry into the apocolypse/sci-fi genre.

Three-and-a-half stars, rounding up for re-readability and idea-generation.
Profile Image for Jim.
77 reviews258 followers
June 24, 2012
June 23, 2012

I strongly recommend Mel's beautiful and moving review of this book. We both loved it, and tried really hard to explain why without spoiling the story.

There are many other exceptional reviews from friends and others, and I would never have known about it without their guidance. My thanks to all.

June 19, 2012
(Pre-review) - Thanks so much to all who supported and commented on this (now slightly edited) lead-in! My full review follows this section.

I absolutely loved it. Plopped it straight onto my all-time favorites list. Knew it would be there before I got halfway through.

There is a strong temptation to just say READ THIS BOOK - DON'T READ ANY FULL REVIEWS UNTIL YOU READ THE BOOK. Not just a strong temptation - probably the right thing to do for a lot of reasons.

But then, there is this. Not everyone will love it, and some won't even like it very much. This is a book that dares to be different, and asks you to think really hard while following a lot of action at a distance.

My mission - and I decide to accept it - will be to convey some sense of the incredible thought-passage and events that take place in this slender volume. But not too much - that would be telling. Hopefully, just enough to let you decide whether you want to buckle up and take the ride.

June 22, 2012
(Full review)

This is a beautifully written book which is intricately layered around classical, quasi-biblical and technical themes. It can be appreciated on several, conceptually independent levels:
- as a suspenseful and unpredictable narrative
- as an age-old philosophical quest with a major technical twist
- as a set of dialogues for exploring the definitions of intelligence, consciousness and ideas
- and as a brain-bending, now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t workout for your head.
For me, all of these elements were handled brilliantly, seamlessly and with extreme originality. This book is NOT like anything else I have ever read.

I need to discuss certain basic elements of the story, but will try to stay (mostly) within the boundaries of the publisher’s synopsis. To appreciate the sudden and dramatic shifts in the narrative, you really should just read the book. My major focus will be on the big-picture issues which the book explores, with some (hopefully) cryptic hints here and there of how the story goes.

The setting for the book is an all-day examination of the young historian Anaximander (Anax), by a panel that will rule on her application to the Academy - the ruling body for her society (The Republic). This setting may seem mundane and unpromising, but its execution here was anything but droll for me. In my career, I have been both the examined and (mostly) the examiner on many occasions, in roughly analogous situations. The dramatic tension in such exams is palpable for everyone involved, and was beautifully depicted here. Good people can break down in these intensely stressful situations - but they usually rise to the occasion and perform well, with just a few bumps and bruises along the way. It is an intellectual rite of passage.

In the early portion of the exam, Anax is called upon to sketch the history of The Republic in some detail for the committee. From her narrative, we learn that this society was built in the aftermath of worldwide catastrophe, and set up to be both sustainable and in many ways ‘ideal’ - along the lines of Plato’s Republic, but with modern variations.

The examiners and Anax build on that historic framework and move on to subsequent developments, and the role of one person in particular. The story of that person’s life is one key to the puzzle that Anax must analyze - to the committee’s satisfaction - to pass the exam.

Now, all of this may sound very dry and uneventful, and I think it was very daring of the author to choose this format for his electrifying story. I was never bored with it, not even a little bit. But this story-telling vehicle is a checkpoint for readers, and some will not find it as fascinating as I did.

I do want to emphasize this point - there is major dramatic tension and suspense in the narrative of Anax and the world she describes. It isn’t easy to convey that tension in a review. But I certainly was drawn, throughout the book, to keep turning pages and finding out what happened next.

The Republic was designed to maintain order in perilous times.

In this environment it was a simple matter for The Republic to maintain its structure. People did as they were told because they were working together, focused on a common threat, a shared enemy.

But problems arise in this utopian society.

...time passes. Fear becomes a memory. Terror becomes routine; it loses its grip.

The founders of The Republic sought to deny the individual, and in doing so they ignored a simple truth. The only thing binding individuals together is ideas. Ideas mutate, and spread; they change their hosts as much as their hosts change them.

New solutions are sought to maintain order. And one component of the initiative is the development of Artificial Intelligence algorithms. Anax must discuss this sequence in detail, and outline the strategies used to achieve it.

During its infancy, at least until the end of the twentieth century, the Artificial Intelligence industry had faced an imagination deficit. Because researchers wrongly assumed that their early computers were good models for the working of the brain, they persevered in programming thinking machines. It wasn't until the second decade of this century, when the scientists and artists began working together, that they began to understand the nature of what we now call emergent complexity.

Along the way, big decisions are made in pursuit of the goal.

A radical thinker, he pioneered a new model, which he called chaotic emergence. Under this system, the program itself was written by the learning environment using what we now refer to as the cascade heuristic.

And major technical problems are identified.

It is crucial he be exposed to an outside influence before his trimming and redirecting mechanisms shut down, and he becomes like a child deprived of stimulation, his curiosity left to wither.

But as in normal life, decisions have consequences, and a path once chosen may lead in quite unexpected directions.

There is a beautifully written series of exchanges between human and machine. As the discussion proceeds from opposing perspectives, each learns from and is influenced by the other. I was completely mesmerized by these brilliant Platonic dialogues.

“I talk to you, you make a sound. I kick this wall, it makes a sound. What's the difference? Perhaps you're going to tell me the wall is conscious too?" "I don't know if the wall's conscious," Art replied. "Why don't you ask it?"

Yes, these exchanges got some major gear-grinding going on in my head. Especially when I read bits of dialogue like this thrust:

My actions are deliberate. I do them with a purpose in mind. To the outsider there is no difference. The difference is in the intention, not the effect. We call this difference thought. You deal in data. I deal in meaning.

And this counter:

You think you're the end of it, but that's what thinking is best at: deceiving the thinker. Just as clay found carbon life forms hitching a ride, once the brain was up and running, so too carbon found there was another little hitchhiker waiting for its turn to pounce. Do you know what I'm talking about? You must know.

And just one more:

There is a battle happening as we speak, two thoughts fighting to the death inside your head. The old Idea is very strong. It has held its grip upon all of humanity, ever since the time you began telling one another stories. But the new Idea is powerful too, and you are beginning to find how reluctant it is to be dismissed.

Are these conversations tied to events? You Betcha. But you will have to read the book to find out how. I don’t think any reviewer is going to go there, and certainly not this one.

What I do want to say is that the pieces of this book work together as a seamless whole. But they also stand up to close scrutiny as individual units, and each is powerful and thought-provoking in the best sense of those terms. For me, the overall effect of this magnificent book was like a Vulcan mind meld, with Mr. Spock at the controls. Your head is opened and the contents inspected, shifted around and transported. You are left transformed, humbled and energized, all at the same time. Maybe scared too, but definitely in a different place from where you started.

Man, this book is awesome! If I didn’t have 700+ rocks on Mount TBR, I might start reading it again tonight.

Highest possible recommendation.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,344 reviews319 followers
April 22, 2023
Страхотна антиутопия, трябва задължително да се прочете!

Каквото вълнува неочакваните герои в тази книга, вълнува много и мислещите хора в последните години.


"Въображението е незаконна рожба на времето и невежеството — повтаряше наставникът ѝ Перикъл и винаги добавяше: — Не че имам нещо проти�� копелетата."
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
July 20, 2011
EDIT: Read again and loved it even more, upping my rating to 4 stars.

Old Review

Ok, so 3.5 stars actually. Maybe 4 but I've decided to be picky.

I was greatly torn as to my opinion on this book, it's a very confusing and weird read at times and not even remotely what I expected when I read the description.

The novel consists entirely of a 4-hour oral exam on a specialist subject of the individual's choice, set in a society that is built up through the dialogue in the examination as the protagonist narrates the history of it's development. You can tell from the start that Beckett knows a thing or too about both philosophy and science, particularly genetics, and even those who feel their minds automatically shriveling up at the thought of any of those will still find themselves impressed by the originality of this literary idea.

A lot of the time I found myself thinking "Eh?" I had picked the book up expecting to find the story of yet another dystopian society but it was quite unlike anything else I have ever read. Plus, the ending is a shocker, almost laughable in some respects but definitely enough to surprise even the greatest mystery-mind. Trust me, if you see it coming then you're one of those who reads the last few pages first.

The book made me think. A lot. It made me question some of my greatest beliefs regarding life and what it is to be 'human' or 'real'. I do want people to read this book, don't be put off by my 3 star rating. My warped reasoning is that, even though it shocked me and raised some interesting questions, I found the style not quite up to the 'really liked it' marker.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Sagan.
240 reviews2,088 followers
September 28, 2017
A short brilliant novel that I’ve finished in one evening. Opinions are divided on this one – I know people who didn’t like it. As for me, I loved it. Almost all of it is perfectly written dialogue – basically this character, Anaximander, participates in an auditory entrance exam, hoping to get into the Academy. Through all the questions and answers we learn about this dystopian/utopian world (you decide), that is supposed to be our own future world.
You know that moment when you’re completely lost in a book? You know that moment when the plot twist hits you so hard your heart skips a bit? Damn, just go and read this!
Profile Image for Regina.
625 reviews394 followers
January 10, 2012
Dystopia is the new cool kid on the block of young adult genre literature. Readers of this genre are familiar with the storylines and themes: teenagers struggling to survive in a scary society that sets kids against each other for entertainment; a creepy society sets kids against each other in order to determine the characters' roles and jobs in the world; the collapse of society by disease, zombies, or natural disaster and the survival during the anarchy of the collapsed society. Genesis is not that, but in a way all of those.

It is a short book, only 150 pages. The story unfolds in a very unusual format. It is told through an interview of a young student who is attempting to prove herself to the society's upper crust Academy in a sort of dissertation or thesis defense. The society described and the world lived in is not our society or our world. History is the topic of the student's "interview" and through her exploration of the topic to the examiners, the reader learns about the world and the society in Genesis. We hear of the society's history, focusing on the life of one key man "Adam". His story, because it is being told by the main character, Anax, the reader "hears" Adam's story almost as we would hear a story sitting around a camp fire. The interview set-up is a difficult manner in which to deliver a fully fleshed out history. In a way it is a huge info-dump, but unlike many information dumps the telling of the history of this world is not at all painful, it is intriguing. Mr. Beckett delivers the story of "Adam", so well that I typically forget that I was not reading about Adam from his point of view.

Fans of dystopian and post-apocalyptic genre, will not be disappointed with Genesis. It has everything we love - disease, war, starvation, authoritarian governments, resistance, and a hint of passion. But, even this is not what the story is really about. Though the examination of the breakdown of a world is not what the book is about, the telling of it is done better than most dystopias. I would love to dive back into this world and read more about its evolution.

So what is the story really about? The author examines what is artificial intelligence; what makes a human being human? How do humans learn? How do we progress? What is thought? If you want to ignore the philosophical nature of the book and just read about the collapse of the world, then no worries you can do that with this book because the story is so darned fantastic. But if you want to think about these topics in a very light and out of the box way - well you can do that too. Here are some little tidbits of interesting thoughts from this book, none contain spoilers.

"They had embraced change uncritically, forgetting the most fundamental law of science, that change means decay."

"History has shown us the futility of the conspiracy theory. Complexity gives rise to error, and in error we grow our prejudice."

"For a society to function successfully perhaps there needs to be a level of empathy that cannot be corrupted."

"It is in conflict that our values are exposed."

"The very fear of dying ... breathes life into me."

If you have read any other reviews for this book then you probably know there is a huge WHAT THE HECK ending???!!!!! Let it happen. Let the ending surprise you. Do not get spoiled by synopses of this book. Let the author tell you his story. Every step of the way it is fascinating and a great ride.

More of my reviews at Badass Reviews
Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
May 2, 2011

I don't even know how to begin reviewing this book. I fear that anything I describe about the book has the potential to ruin it for anyone reading this reviews. And to do that would be a huge disservice to this book. Because believe me when I say it was truly remarkable.

There are three things I believe I am safe to say. (1) The main character's name is Anax. (2) The book is basically her interview with a panel for acceptance into The Academy. (3) It is a dystopian type book. (4) It's not a long book, but the story grabs you.

I had no expectations going into the story. I had no idea what it was about. And it is my belief that that is the best way to get the full experience of the story. This book will make you think. Oh, ya, it makes you *think*. It's one of those books you might have to read a second time, even with how short it is. I had no clue where the author was going with this book until the very end. It just sneaks up on you.

If it seems like my review is a bit scatterbrained, I apologize. That is just that state in which this novel has left me.

Just trust me and go read it.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

More reviews and more at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.
Profile Image for Велислав Върбанов.
445 reviews45 followers
August 21, 2023
„Генезис“ е кратка, но невероятно силна антиутопия! Действието в нея се развива в свят от бъдещето, където главата героиня Анакс се намира на петчасов устен изпит за прием в най-елитната институция, наричана Академията. През тези часове постепенно се разкриват произходът и същността на това футуристично общество...

„За Перикъл говоренето беше игра — спуснеш ли се веднъж по течението му, се връщаш отново и отново. Перикъл не обсъждаше глупавите проблеми на съучениците й. Подбираше внимателно думите — следеше звуковите им хармонии и образите на идеите, в които се разгръщаха. Поне той твърдеше така.“

„Знанието започва като чувство. Разбирането е разкопаване, разчистване на пътя от чувството към просветлението.“ Сега Анакс го изпитваше на гърба си. Знаеше, че нещо се е променило. Бъдещето се очерта някъде отвъд полезрението й. Дали фантазира, дали нелепата уплаха е плод на въображението или на убедеността, че е в опасност.“

„— Искам да ми обещаеш, че ще мълчиш.
— Какво означава за теб думата ми? — усмихна се Арт.
— Научил съм се да ценя нещата, които другите дават неохотно.“
Profile Image for Omerly Mendoza.
126 reviews18 followers
January 6, 2022
Decidí hacer la reseña en esta edición porque siento que la portada que le pusieron en español no tiene nada que ver con el libro.

"Lo único que une a los individuos son las ideas. Las ideas se transforman y extienden; cambian a sus portadores tanto como sus portadores las cambian a ellas."

4 ★★★★

Llegué a este libro gracias a una recomendación en GR (aprovecho para agradecer a Phant79). Y la verdad es que me ha sorprendido en cierta manera. Tratándose de un libro tan corto, no esperé encontrarme con una historia tan atrapante (que pretende ser compleja, pero contada de una manera sencilla). No diré nada sobre la trama, porque creo que lo mejor es adentrarse sin saber qué esperar. Sólo diré - distopía - filosofía - hombre vs. máquina - vale la pena darle una oportunidad.

A mitad del libro logré deducir una buena parte de lo que depara el final; sin embargo, eso no me impidió disfrutar del resto de la lectura. El autor logra engancharte de una forma tan increíble que, aunque sospeches lo que sucederá, quieres seguir leyendo. Al menos a mí me sucedió así.

Al final, el libro me dejó una sensación muy similar a cuando terminé de leer Un Mundo Feliz de Aldous Huxley, y 1984 de George Orwell (ojo, esto no quiere decir que esté comparándolo, no, son obras muy distintas). Fue sólo lo que sentí al momento de terminarlo. Creo que cualquiera que disfrute este tipo de distopías debería darle una oportunidad a Génesis.
Profile Image for Kyriaki.
432 reviews190 followers
November 20, 2018
Οκ αυτό δεν το περίμενα! Βασικά για να είμαι ειλικρινής δεν ξέρω τι ακριβώς περίμενα καθώς διαβάζοντας την υπόθεση από το οπισθόφυλλο δεν πολυκατάλαβα τι ακριβώς θα διάβαζα.

Ουσιαστικά παρακολουθούμε μια εξέταση. Η Άναξ ενώπιον τριών Εξεταστών αναλύει την ζωή και την εποχή του Άνταμ Φορντ, ενός ευφυή επαναστάτη, με σκοπό την εισαγωγή της στην Ακαδημία. Βρισκόμαστε κάπου στο μέλλον και μέσα από την εξέταση, σιγά σιγά, ξεδιπλώνεται όλη η ιστορία της ανθρωπότητας, από τη στιγμή της ίδρυσης της Πολιτείας του Πλάτωνα εξαιτίας της πανούκλας που ξέσπασε μέχρι την τωρινή κοινωνία και τον ρόλο που έπαιξε ο Άνταμ στη μετάβαση από την μια κατάσταση στην άλλη. Και που αυτή η άλλη κατάσταση εδώ που τα λέμε δεν ξέρουμε τι ακριβώς είναι. Μέχρι να είναι πολύ αργά!

Όλη αυτή η άγνοια μας για το πού βρισκόμαστε και το ότι μαθαίνουμε σιγά σιγά μέσα από τις ερωτήσεις των εξεταστών και τις απαντήσεις της Άναξ δημιουργεί μια αβεβαιότητα, μια αγωνία, μια υποψία ότι τα πράγματα δεν είναι έτσι όπως φαίνονται!
Τι είναι άνθρωπος; τι είναι ψυχή; τι καθοδηγεί τις πράξεις μας; μπορεί μια μηχανή να αποκτήσει συνείδηση; θα καταφέρει η Άναξ να απαντήσει σε αυτά τα ερωτήματα; και με ποιο τίμημα;

Με εξέπληξε ευχάριστα και πολύ χαίρομαι γι' αυτό!

Υ.Γ. Τι εξώφυλλο είναι αυτό!! πραγματικά το βιβλίο αδικείται!
Profile Image for Jonathan Terrington.
595 reviews574 followers
October 26, 2012

What on Earth did I just read? Was that a speech or a novel? Was that a YA book or one written for adults? Was the character... Well no I can't give that away for prospective readers. This is a book that has to be read without anything spoiling the plot (I will still provide a non-spoiling summary). What I will say is that if you've read Planet of the Apes before then read this. This novel is something of a YA version of that with a bit of a twist.

Genesis is not written in the usual form of other YA novels. It takes the form of a discussion, or rather a kind of oral essay. The main character, Anaximander,is giving her speech on historic events that begun years ago. She is researching the 'long-dead hero' Adam Forde who defied the past republic for the way it treated potential plague carrying asylum seekers. Pretty soon her essay turns not only into a discussion of how she viewed those past events, but a discussion about the ethics of the past government and about what makes a human human. In fact it had plenty to say on a myriad of ethical and historical issues. It challenged the idea of how we view history, the suggestion was there from the beginning as to how reliable the sources and narrators were in presenting 'facts' and it also looked at the relationship between man and machine.

Do not look under this spoiler tag if you've not read the book.

Do you know those times when you read a line and you think 'how perfectly this has been written'? I have those moments when I read and if the writing is grand I note just how easily and organically everything, particularly the dialogue fits into place. This book has been written just like that: with a rather simplistic vocabulary but with everything fitting neatly into place. It feels as if this book were being made as you read and yet clearly months or perhaps years were spent sorting every word into the proper and final order.

I had never read a book by Bernard Beckett before, yet I am interested enough by this astounding book to want to read more of his work. It was a YA book that was very much adult in how philosophical it was. I encourage all people to read it whether you like sci-fi, YA books or dystopian sci-fi. This is very much an entertaining read full of philosophical ideas. Despite the novel only being 150 short pages this is a must read novel among YA fiction and fiction in general.

Further note: you know what I'm going back and changing this to a five star review. This book deserves those stars.
Profile Image for Mario.
Author 1 book194 followers
June 13, 2015
Which came first, the mind or the idea of the mind? Have you never wondered? They arrived together. The mind is an idea.

Wow... I did not see that ending coming. Mind. blowing.

Well damn, this book sure as hell took me by surprise. After Pines I wanted to pick up something relaxing and easy to read. Well, let me tell you, this book wasn't quite as easy to read as I thought it would be.

It says here that this is a YA book, but it didn't feel like one. The book reminded me little of a modern version of 1984. They both kind of had similar vibes, but at the same time they are different in many, many ways.
I really liked the main character Anaximander (catchy name). She was a very interesting narrator. I also really enjoyed Adam and Art's scenes. I think those were my favorite parts to read.

I'm not gonna say anything else, because I don't want to spoil the book for you. This is one of those books you should start knowing as little as possible. If you liked 1984, or you're just a fan of great Sci Fi books, I suggest giving this a go. It might really surprise you.
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
529 reviews284 followers
July 7, 2018
The marvelous brain, that devious little fight-or-flight, fuck-or-feed device, which you like to think is the measure of the hominid. You’re so proud of that, aren’t you? And you should be. Without your brain, there would be no language, and without language, we would never have seen the third phase of evolution.

1% of participants are accepted into The Academy. Anaximander desires to belong to the 1%. The Academy requires you to pass an exam in order to enter.

The examination takes place in a post-apocalyptic nation that fears plague-carrying outsiders. Outsiders are not allowed to survive. Anaximander’s expertise is focused on Adam Forde, a long-dead hero/traitor who allowed an outsider to live.

Anaximander’s examination is a question and answer presentation. The discourse brings revelations about her society and herself as she learns information that she was formerly not privy to: facts.

This little novel is about ideas, the birth of ideas and the death of ideas. This novel is about the formation of conspiracy. And it is about finding the answers that show us reality, for good or for bad.
Profile Image for Sarah Miller.
491 reviews38 followers
January 28, 2019
First of all, let me just say how excited I was to read this book... ultimately it was just a big, fat disappointment. The book description (a post-apocalyptic, plague ridden world, an elite Academy who interviews young applicants to maintain a crime-free society) is simple fodder for a short book that is simply packed with forced, philosophical debate about consciousness and individuality.

As the main character started her interview, I hoped it would start getting into the "good" stuff. But really, the only interesting pages were the 4 or 5 pages where she talked about the Last War and the resulting new society formation. The rest of it just dragged on & on and I found myself skimming the pages.

I held out for the "exciting twist" at the end and wanted to throw my book at the wall when I finally read it! Seriously!?!? I just wasted my entire afternoon on this? Never again. This book is going right in my "donate" pile.
Profile Image for Amy.
687 reviews145 followers
April 22, 2009
This is the best post-apocalyptic novel I've read since The Road. I started reading it the moment it arrived in my mailbox and was not able to put it down until I'd finished it. It's an intensely cerebral and philosophical read for a young adult novel. And just when I thought I'd discovered the secret of the book, I was completely caught off-guard by the true secret.

A girl named Anax has been given the chance to take a 4-hour oral exam to interview for entrance into The Academy. The book is the transcript of this oral exam. This unique writing format works well because it's through the interview process that we learn about the history of the earth from 2032 onward. She tells of wars, plague, refuge on a walled island, robots, a man named Adam who changed history, and a foundling girl named Eve. As Anax tells of the history of earth and her island, the reader is drawn deeply into the story and becomes as obsessed with Adam's tale as Anax has been. However, Anax has long-suspected that there's something missing from the story of the island and Adam. It is through this interview process that Anax learns of her island's true history.

This novel has so many components that I like: philosophy, suppositions about where current history is leading us, plague, apocalypse, robots, secrets, and secret societies. In the course of a few hours, it became a new favorite. I lay awake in bed pondering its mysteries and dreamed of it when I fell asleep. It's truly a great book.

Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.
Profile Image for Теодор Панов.
Author 4 books143 followers
October 9, 2020
Изключително интересна кратка история. Невероятно е как в книга с толкова малък обем са засегнати толкова много и мащабни теми. Написана е през 2006, но обрисува много точно и правдоподобно някои неща от близкото бъдеше, които днес, през 2020, звучат съвсем реални.

Темата и конфликтите около ИИ са разгледани обстойно и обосновано, предлагащи гледните точки – и на човека, и на машината.

Изненадващи обрати също не липсват. А краят е удивителен, сякаш „Матрицата“ и „Планетата на маймуните“ се събират ведно.
Profile Image for Dina.
589 reviews333 followers
February 11, 2019
Este libro, aunque solo sea por el final, merece completamente su lectura. Filosófico y reflexivo te atrapa completamente desde el minuto uno.
June 24, 2012
First of all, I'd like to draw your attentions to Jim's fantastic review of this book. It's well worth a look, I assure you; especially since he has included some of the more beautiful quotes from the book (something I was too scared to do myself!). Both of us read the book at roughly the same time, and enjoyed it immensely. Now, let's move onto the actual review.


This must have been the easiest five stars I’ve ever given a book. And that includes Stephen King’s works of genius, too. I just came onto Goodreads, typed in the name, and clicked on the fifth star, so naturally, without a moment’s hesitation or contemplation. Because I just knew. This book…it’s a five-star book. But really, five stars seem so measly an offering for such a spectacular achievement. If I could give all the stars in the sky as a thank-you to and for this book, I would. I swear to you that I would. Dramatic, but true. Because, Genesis, the second book of Bernard Beckett’s which I’ve read and loved, is just that good. Honestly.

When I read August, his first book, I was 16 and thirsty for knowledge. I wasn’t satisfied with mild, un-intellectual reads anymore. I wanted a challenge. I wanted a surprise. And that’s what Mr Beckett gave me. If anybody is interested in the kinds of issues which are raised in this book, then August is the next logical step for you. I promise you’ll not be disappointed. Through August, I realised that Beckett had a penchant for philosophy, and that he was damn good at exploring intricate philosophical debates, with an elegant, deceptively simple writing style.

I found the same in Genesis. Now, I must warn you. I agree with all the other reviewers, and urge you to walk into the story blindly. If you haven’t read this book yet, please just stop reading now in case I spoil anything for you. You’ll regret not listening once you’ve read the book; trust me on that. I have only included mild spoilers, but nothing you wouldn’t know about by the 20th page. Proceed at your own caution.

The time-frame is four hours, but in these four hours, a whole dystopian civilisation is brought to life before our eyes, and then picked apart. We learn more about the past 100 years of the society than the present four hours. And I loved that. The whole book was like a history lesson, but not the kind you’d ever have in a classroom (unless, of course, you had Mr Beckett as a teacher). Now, I hate History. Detest it. It’s among my least-favourite topics, after Maths and Sciences. But, even though 95% of Genesis roams the past, I never once found myself gritting my teeth or flipping the pages in frustration. I was hooked. So, please. Don’t be put off by the historic aspect. It barely registered with me, and I am a self-confessed hater of the genre.

Much of the story is set within an interrogative context; Anax (short for Anaximander), is being evaluated by a panel of examiners who represent The Academy. She has chosen a revolutionary young man of the past as her specialist subject, but this originally specific arrangement soon scatters, and we explore much broader issues which move beyond that of a 17year old boy’s.

The examiners are distant and unreadable. Anax is unnerved and yet equally confident, because she feels she has a connection to this Adam Forde, and feels she knows everything about him. The exchanges between the examiners and Anax are nerve-wracking and fraught with tension. Some moments, I actually felt my heart beating a little faster when things really heated up. It was fantastic; so terrifying and so, so exciting.

You know, for a book of less than 200 pages, Genesis covered a lot of ground. Make no mistake; the brevity of the book does not translate into brevity of the content. Genesis is philosophically dense. Pages and dialogues are just filled with concepts and theories and risky ideologies. There is rarely room for your brain to breathe once you get sucked into the latter half of the story. I found myself reading and re-reading certain beautiful passages with a little half-smile of wonder on my face, awed by the author. Awed by his sublime sense of logic, by his overall intelligence. Awed that he somehow managed to make certain characters more alive than they had any rational or reasonable right to be, and awed that, for all the dense theoretics he was throwing my way, I still managed to keep up, and keep moving to the heart-stopping place he was taking me. I loved that the Chinese Room, one of the more intriguing concepts I’ve come across, made an appearance and was ripped apart by cold logic. I loved that Bernard Beckett actually challenged us about notions like this, and didn’t let us blindly swallow the standard line, that you don’t need to understand something to be successful at it. He actually changed my thinking. About the Chinese Room, about artificial intelligence, about the state of consciousness, and about a thousand other things. And how many other authors can claim to have done such a thing? Isn’t that the whole point of books? To open the reader’s eyes?

Originality is extinct, I always say. It was something like my catch-phrase in my Sociology class. I was always spouting those words, so convinced of their truth. Originality is especially extinct within certain branches of literature (such as Young Adult Romance). But I guess Bernard Beckett never got this damning memo. And thank God he didn’t. Now, there are some books which are original for originality’s sake; for the novelty. Other books are original, but unpleasantly so. Not Genesis, though. The originality of Genesis is startling and staggering, and brilliantly so. I cannot compare this book to any other. Which, I suppose, is the highest form of praise I can give it.

The ending knocks you sideways. I guessed part of it about half-way through , but I hadn’t grasped yet what a skilful writer Beckett is. After the last line, however, I was under no such illusion anymore. Bernard Beckett writes books which are so close to perfect it hurts. If you’re looking for a teenage dystopian, then I suggest you look elsewhere. This probably won’t be the book for you. But if you’re looking for startling moments of clarity and intelligence, if you’re looking for a challenge to your perceptions of certain issues, then Genesis may just be perfection on a page for you. I dare you to read it and hate it. I dare you to try. I dare you not to fall in love.
Profile Image for Diana Stoyanova.
604 reviews130 followers
February 8, 2018
Книгата ме грабна още в началото и въпреки малкия си обем, който е твърде нетипичен за утопична фантастика, е една голяма книга.

Земята е опустошена, а човечеството е покосено от тежки болести и чумна епидемия. В целия този ужас, малцина се спасяват на остров, изолирани от целия свят. За да оцелее малкото заформено общество, се въвеждат строги, диктаторски мерки.

Историята се разказва от Анакс, за която животът и дейността на Адам са част от изпит за приемане в престижната Академия- мястото, което движи света. Разказът на Анакс ни връща назад в миналото, анализирайки го детайлно, за да хвърли светлина върху настоящето такова, каквото е. В хода на изпита, на нея се разкриват дълбоко пазени тайни, които имат власт да разрушат целия свят.
Много силно и внушително въздействие върху мен оказа разговорът между Адам и андроида Арт.
За някои откъсите по- долу могат да се считат за СПОЙЛЕР, но не можех да не ги споделя.

"  — Животът е порядък, сътворен от хаоса. Способността да извличаш сили от околния свят, да създаваш нови форми. Да се възпроизвеждаш. Няма как да го разбереш."

" - [...] Преди да започна обаче, ще уточня един проблем на човешкия светоглед — въобразявате си, че животът на тази планета е сътворен еднократно, докато всеки разумен наблюдател разбира, че той е създаван на четири етапа. Лошата новина е, че онова, което възприемате като свое „аз“, е едва вторият, макар да носите зародиша на третия. Аз, естествено, съм четвъртия. Цели два стадия напред. Не се самосъжалявай. Самосъжалението никога не помага.

"— Вие, хората, се ласкаете от мисълта, че сте създали света на идеите, но сте безкрайно далеч от истината. Идеята влиза в мозъка отвън. Тя го реорганизира, за да пригоди интериора по свой вкус. Сварва други идеи, настанили се там преди нея; бори се с едни, с други се съюзява. Съюзите оформят нови структури, за да се защитават от натрапници. И в подходящия момент идеята изпраща военните си отряди да завземат нови мозъци. Успялата да се утвърди идея пътешества от мозък в мозък, завладява нови територии и пътьом мутира...Кое се е появило първо — разума или идеята за разум? Не си ли се питал досега? Те са възникнали едновременно. Съзнанието е идея. Това е урокът, който трябва да научиш, но се опасявам, че надхвърля възможностите ти. Слабото ви място е, че се смятате за център на събитията."

" Генезис" е невероятна смесица от научна фантастика, антиутопия и философия. Историята е кратка, но много съдържателна и добре структурирана. Няма излишни приказки и протакане. Всичко е точно, ясно и смислено. Бях много изненадана от разкритията в последната глава.Чак в края на книгата разбрах, че нещата не са такива, каквито изглеждат и че първоначалните ми представи са коренно различни от действителността, която се разбулва накрая. Искаше ми се историята да е по- дълга. " Генезис" много ми хареса и горещо я препоръчвам.


" Въображението е незаконна рожба на времето и невежеството "

"Човечество не е имало причини да се страхува от нищо освен от самия страх. Една-единствена опасност е грозяла човешкия род — помръкването на духа."

" Суеверието е необходимостта да възприемаш света като причинно-следствена обусловеност."

" Сложните схеми водят до грешки, а грешките подхранват предразсъдъци."

" Ценностите излизат на преден план тъкмо в конфликтни ситуации."

" Думите са остарял и тромав механизъм."

" Знанието започва като чувство. Разбирането е разкопаване, разчистване на пътя от чувството към просветлението."
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,456 followers
February 7, 2012
Which came first, the mind or the idea of the mind? Have you never wondered? They arrived together. The mind is an idea. ~Genesis

In the end, living is defined by dying~Genesis

Wow, wow and more wow! I have been swept away and truly humbled by this little book that's filled with such big ideas. The blurb on my edition calls it "sinewy" and "cerebral" and for me, that hits it just right.

I want to start by first giving a shout out to Stephen; his unbridled enthusiasm for this book is what brought it to my attention. I didn't even know this book existed until I read Stephen's wonderful review, so thank you Stephen! I also want to bring attention to Lyndsey's review here as well because she does such a phenomenal job describing what makes this book so special and unique. Trust me, go read those reviews and you will absolutely have to read this book like I did, and you will be the happier for having done so.

I've become so accepting of the watered-down, popcorn-esque dystopias that have invaded mainstream YA of late, that I forgot just how satisfying a carefully constructed and believable dystopian landscape can be. I feel like it's an itch I haven't had scratched in a looooong time. Pardon me while I exhale a sigh of bliss. If I were a cat I would be purring my head off right now.

In less than 200 pages, the author is able to create not only a convincing post-apocalyptic scenario where a society isolates itself behind a huge sea wall, but gives the reader three memorable characters who aren't in the business of making you cry or clutch your chest, but they will make you think -- they will make you think about the nature of fear, the ethics and possible outcomes of technology, and most of all, what it means to be human. What makes us who we are? What we are? Which differences matter and can change the course of everything?

This book is OVERFLOWING with thinky thoughts. The language is precise and careful, taking the reader on a philosophical journey that asks the hardest questions. At first, the answers may seem easy, but they won't by the end. And that ending!!! That made me clutch my chest. There is an undeniable tension that threads through the whole story. As a reader you sense this is all headed towards climax and epiphany and let me tell you, getting there is so rewarding.

The narrative device works brilliantly here -- young Anax facing her three Examiners in an oral interview that will last five hours. It is mostly through her eyes we come to know this world and all the events that have led up to this point in history. But we are also privy to transcripts that give voice to Adam and Art, man and machine. It is their words that give the book its resonance and meaning. What do they learn from each other? What do we learn from each of them?

My only critique: I wish it could have been longer! I was so swept up in the narrative I could have gone on for hundreds of pages more. The real wonder is that the author did not need those extra pages to weave his tale. This novel's brevity is also what gives it its power.

I will be thinking about this book for a long time; I will remember it forever.

Profile Image for Петър Стойков.
Author 2 books284 followers
March 12, 2022
Философия във фантастичен формат? Що пък не. Генезис на Бърнард Бекет се прикрива като роман, но цялата книга е просто интервю, в което главната героиня размишлява върху нещата от живота, човешкият разум и битие. Не е лошо, защото да се позамисля човек от време на време е добре, поради което аз одобрявам подобни опити.

Разбира се, философията в книгата, както и по-голямата част от философията като академична дисциплина, страда от един съществен недостатък и той е, че не взема под внимание наличната биология, невропсихиология и еволюционна психология, когато става дума за човешкият ум и неговите функции.

Филсофията разглежда и даже има претенцията да е авторитетът по въпроси като морал, душа, мисленето и отношенията между хората без даже да се опита да разбере как работят човешкият мозък и мисъл, как се еволюирали. Академичната философия дори масово отрича, че мисленето има нещо общо с устройството и функциите на мозъка и/или че устройството и фунцкиите на мозъка спрямо мисленето имат нещо общо с еволюцията.

Поради това, разбира се, в книгата главната героиня, изпитва притеснение, страх и други емоции. Емоциите са резултат от еволюционното приспособяване на хората да живеят едни с други и от отделяните от тях хормони. По-първичните емоции са резултат от нуждата хората да се размножават, да се защитават и да бягат, а тия, които имаме за по-възвишени - от нуждата да могат да живеят заедно.

Моралът от своя страна, следва от емоциите (някои изследователи твърдят, че съществува "морална емоция" или "морално чувство", други, че моралът е съвкупност от някои други чувства) и именно те ни карат да одобряваме или не дадено действие или намерение. Така често не можем да си обясним защо не одобряваме нещо, просто чувстваме, че ни отвращава (например, ако любимото ти куче го блъсне кола, ще го опечеш ли и после изядеш? а защо?).

Всички тия неща добавят аспект за размишление относно ставащото в книгата, който авторът е пренебрегнал (вероятно поради незнание) и който би я направил много по-пълна и интересна. Но и сега е доста добра.
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