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The End Of Mr. Y

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A cursed book. A missing professor. Some nefarious men in gray suits. And a dreamworld called the Troposphere?

Ariel Manto has a fascination with nineteenth-century scientists--especially Thomas Lumas and The End of Mr. Y, a book no one alive has read. When she mysteriously uncovers a copy at a used bookstore, Ariel is launched into an adventure of science and faith, consciousness and death, space and time, and everything in between.

Seeking answers, Ariel follows in Mr. Y’s footsteps: She swallows a tincture, stares into a black dot, and is transported into the Troposphere--a wonderland where she can travel through time and space using the thoughts of others. There she begins to understand all the mysteries surrounding the book, herself, and the universe. Or is it all just a hallucination?

402 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2006

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About the author

Scarlett Thomas

33 books1,600 followers
Scarlett Thomas was born in London in 1972. Her widely-acclaimed novels include PopCo, The End of Mr Y and The Seed Collectors. As well as writing literary fiction for adults, she has also written a literary fantasy series for children and a book about writing called Monkeys with Typewriters. Her work has been translated into more than 25 languages.

She has been longlisted for the Orange Prize, shortlisted for the South African Boeke Prize and was once the proud recipient of an Elle Style Award. She is currently Professor of Creative Writing & Contemporary Fiction at the University of Kent in the UK. She lives in a Victorian house near the sea and spends a lot of time reading Chekhov and Katherine Mansfield.

She is currently working on a new novel and various projects for TV.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,829 reviews
Profile Image for Judith.
137 reviews19 followers
June 17, 2008
Oh my, I think I am cursed. Today at least I am under a spell. The day starts normally: waking up, checking the alarmclock, seeing the stack of books next to my bed. One book especially grabs my attention. I decide to read one more chapter, as I still have plenty of time before work.

I read and read, one chapter, two chapter, three chapters...
- I can start later, I will work longer -
...Words, letters, paragraphs...
- I am ill, I need to stay in bed, I will work over the weekend -
...Plots, subplots, twists...
- I might develop a fever, I have a fever-
...I must read, must read, must read, read, read...

So I stay in bed the whole day, only getting up to get a bowl of cereal and later a bag of raisins. Lying in bed, at four in the afternoon I fall asleep again. It is hard to separate dream from reality. When the phone rings I expect the main character to be calling.

At six I finish the book, and instantly regret it. I am so bad at postponing gratification. I just have to eat the whole chocolate bar at once instead of just one square at a time.

So I envy you.
You can still read this cursed book square by square.
But it will have you aching for more.

See you in the Troposphere.
Profile Image for Chrissy.
88 reviews77 followers
November 4, 2022
Original and entertaining metafiction with philosophy and quantum physics. When you've finished the book, read the very beginning again 😉
April 24, 2019
Several years ago I was passing a charity shop and through the window, I spotted a number of books for sale, so I ventured inside. This book really stood out so I bought it. I was absolutely intrigued when I realised that the main protagonist (Ariel Manto) bought her copy of The End of Mr Y in a second-hand bookshop. I opened the cover and started reading hoping that my expectation of a fantasy adventure wasn’t just about to be smashed.

From the first page, I was hooked, an immediate recognition that this was going to be highly original and I’d better be prepared for new perceptions and twists through Ariel’s pursuit of Thomas Lumas (the fictional author of the “End of Mr Y”). It is a very clever plot where the reader is taken on a journey through the Troposphere, a place where you can travel through time and other people’s thoughts. There was definitely a risk that this could just get too unbelievable and silly but I continued to remain connected to the characters and their complexity. The plot moved at a great pace and remained fascinating. The science wasn't a big issue for me but Scarlett Thomas does seem to put some weight behind it. I found it interesting but not compelling and if it’s not your thing, you can leave to the side without affecting the story.

I bought all Scarlett Thomas’ books on the basis of this novel but none have had the same impact as this one. I have a fantasy connection to this book (even if fabricated in only my own mind). While I feel I have contributed significantly to Amazon’s success :) I will keep trying to find books in unexpected places hoping to be rewarded with another experience like this.

I would recommend this book and would rate it 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,001 reviews1,285 followers
August 27, 2021
رواية عجيبة للكاتبة البريطانية سكارليت توماس
سرد يمزج بين الفلسفة والفيزياء, الخيال والحقيقة, العلم والخرافة
بطلة الرواية شخصية فوضوية تبحث في حياة كاتب من القرن التاسع عشر
وبعد قراءة آخر رواياته "نهاية السيد واي" تدخل في مغامرة فكرية مثيرة
تجربة الانتقال لعالم موازي له أبعاد مكانية وزمانية مختلفة
الاندماج بالآخر ومعرفة ما يدور في الأذهان من أفكار ورغبات وذكريات
محاولة تغيير أحداث الماضي وآثارها السيئة وإعادة كتابة تاريخ العالم
ومع خطورة التجوال في الأذهان والعبث بما فيها من مفاهيم وأفكار ومعتقدات
يبقى لها الخيار بين العودة للواقع أو الاستمرار في السفر للماضي والوصول للبداية

الكاتبة أطالت في الحكي عن الأفكار والنظريات العلمية والفلسفية
والآراء ووجهات النظر المختلفة في تاريخ الكون والدين والعلوم
ومع ذلك الفكرة مبتكرة والسرد مشوق وخاصة في النصف الأول للرواية
Profile Image for Amira Mahmoud.
618 reviews8,157 followers
August 6, 2015
نهاية السيد واي
لا أعلم من أين عليّ أن ابدأ التعليق على تلك الرواية الملحمية
هذه الرواية التي تتأرجح ما بين قمة العقل وقمة الخرافة
قمة الخيال وقمة الواقعية ، قمة العلم وقمة الجهل
هي حقًا مزيج مختلف ، بقصة شيقة وحبكة خرافية ، ومعلومات كثيرة وغزيرة التي تعمدت الكاتبة إلقائها ومن ثم محاولة شرحها و تبسيطها كأنها تحاول أن تشرحها لذاتها قبل أن تشرحها للقارئ
ورؤية فلسفية للأشياء ، ومنطق غريب ربمّا
كان في كثير من الأحيان يستعصى عليّ فهمه وفهم فلسفتها ونظرتها للعالم
ما حاجتها لذلك كُله ولماذا تُناقش ذلك كُله ؟
أن يكون لدينا القدرة على التجول في فضاء أذهان الآخرين !
هراء ، لا جدوى من التفكير في إمكانية حدوث شيء هو لن يحدث بالأساس
هكذا كان رأيي عن تلك التجربة ككل ، لكن كلما تقترب من النهاية تعيّ أكثر ما تريد أن تتحدث عنه تلك الكاتبة
ربمّا أرادت أن توضح الجانب الكارثي في هذا ، أن يتجول أحدهم في ذهنك
أن يكون قادرًا على العبث في أفكارك ومعتقداتك
بل والأنكى والأكثر كارثية أن يكون قادرًا على تغيير الماضي وبناءًا عليه الحاضر والمستقبل
يعبث بكُلّ ذلك كما يحلو له وكما يتوافق مع مصالحه هو
لا أعلم لماذا أثناء قراءتي كنت دائمًا أتذكر مقولتين من رائعة جورج أورويل 1984
(من يملك الماضي يملك المستقبل...من يملك الحاضر يملك الماضي ) ..
( أنت لا تملك سوى تلك السنتيميترات المربعة في جمجمتك ) ..
ربما عندما كتب توماس لوماس نهاية السيد واي لم يكن يدرك تبعاتها الكارثية وما يمكن أن تحدثه
تمامًا كما لم يدرك نوبل كيف أن يتحول اختراعه للديناميت من شيء ذا نفع وقيمة إلي شيء مُدمر ورهيب
ربما لأن العلماء غالبًا ما يملكون نية حسنة لا يمكنهم معها رؤية الشرور في نفوس العالم
وربما كان _ بخلاف توقعاتنا _ من الرائع أن يظل الماضي _ مهما بلغت بشاعته _ كما هو ماضي وفقط
لا يمكن له أن يُمس
ربما و ربما و ربما ...
لا أعلم
هي رواية من الروايات القليلة جدًا التي ستُضاف إلى رفيّ
books make me think better
ستضاف إلى تلك الروايات التي دائمًا ما أقول أنه يستحيل أن تقرأها ويبقى تفكيرك كما كان قبل قراءتها
ستعبث بعقلك وبمنطقك وطريقة تفكيرك ، وفي كُلّ صفحة _ ولا أبالغ إن قلت في كُلّ سطر منها _ ستُضيف إلي حصيلة معلوماتك معلومة جديدة وفلسفة جديدة وفكرة جديدة

كانت سكارلت تريد أن تتحدث هنا عن التجارب الفكرية والذهنية وتناقشها
أعتقد أن الأمر انتهى بأن كانت الرواية بأكملها أشبه برحلة ذهنية في ذهن الكاتبة ومعلوماتها وأفكارها وفلسفتها الخاصة

لابد لها من قراءة ثانية ..
Profile Image for Batsap.
240 reviews12 followers
February 5, 2010
I couldn't wait to finish this book... but not because I was hooked, perched on the edge of my seat as I desperately waited to see how everything turned out, I just wanted the tedium to end.

It wasn't even the constant drip-feed of Philosophy and Quantum Physics that had me yawning and searching for the nearest caffiene source. In fact, that was the most interesting part of the book. (If you can overlook the obsessive name-dropping and reference to Derrida on almost every single page.) The way it was presented though - in pretentious conversations between equally pretentious characters - made it difficult to connect with what was actually being discussed.

Which brings me to what I found most deadly about the book: the main character Ariel Manto. In my opinion she was the worst kind of female stereotype. In a desperate bid to perhaps show that she was 'in' with students, or even just to appear modern, Thomas had her protaganist blantantly smoking, swearing, sleeping around and whining about her terrible upbringing. And it wasn't just the charming Miss Manto, all the characters were shallow stereotypes trying too hard to be 'cool'.

Usually, the plot or the style of writing can make up for a lack of interesting characters, but sadly this was not the case. Judging by the plot, this would have looked more at home in the children's section, if it weren't for the gratuitous sex and swearing - which I suppose were put in just to prove that the book was for adults. As for the writing style, it was fair enough with some good turns of phrase, but nowhere near good enough to make up for the tepid plot and annoying characters.

So, if you have an interest in thought experiments and the nature of the universe, I suggest you pick up a Philosophy or popular Science book instead.
Profile Image for Krissa.
94 reviews35 followers
May 9, 2012
Holy #&*#*$!@ Christ, Scarlett Thomas has taken the top of my head off. I thought PopCo was an awesome mindf!ck, but Mr. Y makes it look like so much People magazine.

I'm really not sure what to say about this novel. I think people that like House of Leaves would probably like it for similar reasons though it's not nearly so hard to follow. Her female lead, as in PopCo, is almost frighteningly intelligent, as I'm beginning to suspect Thomas is herself. It's not the intelligence that's enticing and delightful, it's the limitless sense of curiosity and whimsy she brings to life. It may not be realistic to want to be a PhD student with no money, endless cigarettes and thousands of books and only the directive to solve life's tangled mysteries, but DAMN, it sure is alluring.

In trying to describe the book today to a friend, I explained it, like, it's the thinkiest heart-in-your-mouth thriller you could imagine reading. There's Einstein and Heidigger by the boatload but hey, there's also a terrifying telepathic chase across Southern England! And freaky autistic ghosts that eat your brain! And lots of Derrida!

If I had to compare her to anyone, it would be humbly to David Mitchell. Not that she's exactly reaching the penthouse apartment of genius that is Cloud Atlas, but damn if she's not at least in the same building. With a good view, even.
8 reviews
March 19, 2007
This is perhaps the worst book I ever finished. I don't really recommend it. The thought experiment aspect of the book could have been interesting, but was unfortunately written for people who haven't read Baudrillard and don't understand particle physics. Which I don't, but I got it much faster than the people in the book. Plus, the story was absurd, and poorly thought out. The main character was smarter than the writer, and seemed to resent that. Plus, it seemed that the sex scenes were written by someone who knows nothing about sex about someone who has serious sex issues. It was almost unbearable. I only finished the book because it was short and I have an obsession with finishing books. I wouldn't recommend anyone else try it. It doesn't get any better. But I gave it 2 stars because I finished it.
Profile Image for Charles.
256 reviews40 followers
September 30, 2011
Note to authors: Merely mentioning "Husserl" or "Derrida" does not make a book intellectual or philosophical. Similarly, uttering the name -- much less quoting -- "Einstein," "Heisenberg," or "Schrodinger" does not make a book scientific, or lend credibility to the writing.

To those who have positively reviewed this book noting its intellectualism or creativity or surprise ending, I am glad that you enjoyed it.

I thought the book pointless, rambling, and pseduointellectual. The author quoted the names of giants of quantum physics, hoping to fool the poor reader that this was really physics, or scientifically plausible, when, in fact, the scientific application was simply obscure, opaque, or incorrect.

Maybe I am tired of science fiction as a style, or casually referencing multiple dimensions, or time travel, or the concept of jumping into and out of other people's minds and memories as blithely or effortlessly as jumping into and out of a wading pool. Science fiction, is, ultimately, more fiction than science; and, really, that's OK. It doesn't have to be true, or provable; it just can't be silly.
Profile Image for Ahmed Oraby.
908 reviews3,315 followers
December 3, 2014
لكي تكتب رواية، مذهلة ومحيرة، وقوية، ومحبوكة بمثل هذا الشكل، فلابد أن تكون إما عبقري لدرجة التأله، أو أن تكون مجنونًا لدرجة مخيفة
فليباركك الرب يا سكارلت
Profile Image for Lauren (Sugar & Snark).
312 reviews118 followers
September 8, 2012
Have you ever been at a party and been cornered by that special breed of person who thinks they are the best read, most highly evolved intellect on the plant and their one goal in life is to convince you and anyone else who will listen of this (in their mind) indisputable fact. This book is the literary equivalent of that party goer. Cue the incessant and often needless name dropping. Any interesting thoughts or ideas on theoretical physics and philosophy are drowned out by the authors constant waffle and to be honest those were my favourite parts of the book, because lets face facts here her plot is slightly juvenile- Being John Malkovich meets The Far Away Tree? And her main character is unlikeable, cold and unengaging and desperately trying to be cool and sadly failing. She is also clearly mentally impair as she is supposed to be studying for a PHD in literature yet takes a whole weekend of constant reading to finish a book less then 200 pages long. Either that or the book is as boring as its namesake :-D
This books one redeeming feature- It eventually comes to an end.
Profile Image for Trin.
1,742 reviews550 followers
June 4, 2007
Like Thomas' PopCo, I found this both fascinating and frustrating. Thomas definitely achieves something really special with her ability to make her writing intensely cerebral (some of my favorite parts of Mr. Y were the digressions into quantum physics and other brain-stretching topics) while at the same time creating very human, flawed characters. Still, there's a quality of...coldness that prevents me from becoming emotionally involved. Perhaps the whole thing seems too clever, too orchestrated? I don't know. Anyway: the plot of this novel is nominally about a cursed book, but is really much more like an alternate take on Being John Malkovich with an ending that feels like the close of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the part that's supposed to be best if watched stoned. As with PopCo, the experience of reading the novel was very pleasurable and interesting, but the final impact just isn't there; it's oddly unsatisfying.
Profile Image for Aaron.
354 reviews34 followers
October 29, 2008
Imagine a novel that has never been read by anyone who has lived to talk about it. The only people known to have finished it either died shortly afterward or have disappeared without a trace. The novel in question is so notorious that the only copy known to exist has been locked in a vault in Berlin, preventing anyone from ever reading it again. This novel, for all practical purposes, is cursed. If you read it, you will die.

If such a novel existed and you found a copy in a used bookstore, would you read it?

Ariel Manto would. In fact, she does.

This idea, the notion of reading a novel known to be cursed is the premise at the heart of Scarlett Thomas's well-written, thought-provoking, but ultimately disappointing new novel.

The novel within the novel contains a recipe for a tincture that if you mix, drink, and then stare into a hand-drawn black dot allows you to exit this dimension into another (referred to in the novel as The Troposphere). In this dimension, you have access (through a process called paradesis) to the minds of any sentient being who has ever been in any way related to anyone you have ever known. This includes animals as well, especially mice or felines. Anyone who enters this dimension has their minds opened, to heretofore unknown truths about life. Truths about God. Truths about scientific law. Truths about existence itself.

This is a thought-provoking novel full of well-written, well-thought-out, well-organized postulations about reality, philosophy, and religion. One of my favorites is a discussion about whether Einstein's famous energy formula is actually something he proved to be true or something he willed to be true, forcing humanity to accept its veracity.

As it turns out, it isn't the novel itself that will kill you, but the people who want the recipe contained therein and will stop at nothing to get it. If you read the novel and enter The Troposphere, they can find you and they will more than likely catch you.

I have many problems with this novel, despite how thought-provoking it is, the least of which being the protagonist. She is described as a sexual deviant, a self mutilator, and one waits for this to have some bearing on the story being held. But it doesn't. It just is. Shocking material for the sake of shocking material has never really had much appeal for me. The bigger issue is the love story that permeates this novel. It also has no true bearing on the story (other than to allow Romeo to show up at the last minute and fix everything with both guns blazing) and kind of bogs down the philosophical discussion. The discussion is key to what makes this novel so interesting to read, but perhaps too many idea are set forth. The last forty pages go by too quickly with nothing really getting solved. And the ending is abrupt.

In the end, I really only care about the philosophical questions I was left to think about. The novel itself will fade from my memory.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amina Hosny Khalil.
182 reviews64 followers
June 16, 2022
الكتاب ده عبارة عن خليط بين الفلسفة والفيزياء وقمة الواقع وقمة الخيال.. إنما ايه خليط أورجانكِ 😍 ❤️ أعتقد أنه من أجمل ما كُتب حول فكرة التخاطر والسفر بالزمن عبر الأذهان 👏👏👏

خلال فترة قراءتي لهذا الكتاب مر عليا 8 سنين من عمري بين ثانوية عامة وهندسة ونظريات وإلكترونيات بنجري ورائها، وفي رأي أي حد بيدرس هندسة إلكترونيات أو بيفكر بيدرسها يقرأ الكتاب ده هيلم له شويات نظريات ويبسطها بطريقة عبقرية قوانين نيوتن ومعادلات آينشتاين، وتفسير كوبنهاجن - الكم والكوانتم - ثم قطة شرودنجر، ثم الذرة والإلكترونيات ، وغيره كتيررر… ايه يا ست "سكارليت" كل النظريات دي..

خلال الربع الأخير من الكتاب؛ من كثرة النظريات الفيزيائية التي طرحت فيه وتبسيطها، ده غير المحاكاة الحاسوبية التي طُرحت لمعرفة ماهية المادة والفكر أصابني فضول شديد أعرف مين هي الكاتبة "سكارليت توماس" ما هو تخصصها العلمي ودراستها لتتمكن من كتابة رواية داخل رواية وتتطرح فيهما هذا الكم من النظريات العلمية المعقدة؟!

والمفاجأة.. كل المتاح عنها إنها أستاذة للكتابة الإبداعية والخيال المعاصرة في جامعة كنت، بس كده 🙃 أنا شايفة الست دي لازم تكون رئيسة معهد ماساتشوستس للتكنولوجيا 😍

في هذه الرواية الوصف جميل، والسرد رائع وقد جاء على لسان البطلة "آرييل مانتو"، وهي طالبة تعد رسالة الدكتوراه في قسم اللغة الإنجليزية في إحدى الجامعات البريطانية، حول أحد كتاب العصر الفيكتوري يدعى "توماس أ. لوماس"، وبالتحديد حول روايته "نهاية السيد واي".

"معروف أن "نهاية السيد واي" تتبعها لعنة ما، ومع أنني بالطبع لا أؤمن بتلك الأمور لكن بعضهم يعتقدون فعلًا أنك إن قرأتها...تَمُت."

اعتمدت الكاتبة على الأسلوب الروائي "رواية داخل الرواية، فما إن حصلت "آرييل" بالصدفة على النسخة الوحيدة المتبقية من تلك الرواية الملعونة، حتى بدأت سلسلة من الأحداث الفنتازية التي يختلط فيها الماضي مع الحاضر، النظريات العلمية مع الأساطير والمادة مع الفكر داخل عالم متشابك ومعقد تحاول فيه البطلة الوصول إلى الحقيقة، عن طريق الانتقال إلى عالم فضاء الأذهان الذي أطلق عليه السيد واي اسم "التروبوسفير" حيث ستكون قادرة على قراءة ما في عقول الآخرين.

توضح الكاتبة هنا الجانب الكارثي للتجول في عالم الأذهان، تخيل أن يتجول أحدهم في ذهنك أن يكون قادرًا على العبث في أفكارك ومعتقداتك بل والأكثر كارثية أن يكون قادرًا على العبث فيه كما يحلو له وكما يتوافق مع مصالحه هو؟!

"كيف يمكنك أن تعود وتغيّر في الماضي وتتوقّع ألا يتغيّر المستقبل إلا قليلًا؟"

في النهاية أحب أقدم تحية وشكرا للجميلة والرائعة "إيمان حرز الله" ❤️ لأن الترجمة عظيمة جدًا جدًا، حيث نجحت إيمان في ترجمة الرواية بسلاسة رهيبة رغم ما تضمنته من فلسفات غربية ونظريات علمية معقدة، بالإضافة الى كثير من الكتب والأحداث والشخصيات المتعلقة بالثقافة البريطانية 👏😍
Profile Image for Nahed.E.
595 reviews1,486 followers
July 1, 2017
حسنا بالنسبة لي هناك رواية جميلة .. وهناك رواية غريبة .. وهناك رواية مجنونة .. وهناك رواية - لن أقول سيئة - ولكن سأقول ليست من نوعي
ومن هنا توجد الكثير من التصنيفات ..
فهناك رواية جميلة ممتعة مسترسلة كأن تقرأ رواية الأبله لـ ديستويفيسكي أو روايات غيوم ميسو
ويمكن أن تجد رواية جميلة غريبة .. أي جمالها في غرابتها مثل في بلاد الأشياء الأخيرة لـ بول أوستير أو الخيميائي لـ باولو كويلو أو كتاب المكتبة لـ زوران جيفكوفيتش أو التحول لـ كافكا أو العمي وانقطاعات الموت لـ ساراماجو أو ميتتان لرجل واحد لـ خورخي أمادو
ويمكن أن تجد رواية لم تحبها أو لم تستمتع بها وفي الوقت نفسه غريبة مميزة لن تنساها ويجب الاعتراف بهذا أنها غريبة ولكنها ليست جميلة
مثل رواية المكتبة الغريبة لـ موراكامي مثلاً أو نظافة القاتل لـ إيميلي نوثومب
وهناك رواية مجنونة تأخذك بعيدا عمن حولك وتُنسيك عالمك تماما مثل ظل الريح لـ زافون أو كافكا علي الشاطئ لـ موراكامي أو اسم الوردة لإمبرتو إيكو ، فهي فعلا رواية مجنونة
ولكن هي هل ممتعة أو جميلة ؟ ستكون الإجابة علي حسب ذوق القارئ
وروايتنا هنا من النوع الاخير .. مجنونة غريبة ... هل احببتها ؟
هل اعترف بما فيها من مجهود متميز ؟
نعم ونعم ونعم
الرواية حقا متعبة ومُرهقة للعين والذهن ..
الرواية كبحر هائج من الأفكار المضطربة المجنونة التي تأخذك من حال لحال ومن حدث لحدث ومن إرهاق لإرهاق بلا ملل بل علي العكس بإيقاع سريع للغاية ..
ولكن فجأة ... يراوك سؤال .. لماذا كل هذا ؟
ولا أقصد الأحداث بالنسبة للبطل .. فالبطل له فكره وله عذره .. ولكن للكاتبة .. لماذا كتبت هذا الجنون بهذا الإسلوب ؟
كيف جاءت هذه الأفكار في ذهنها ؟ وكيف كتبتها ؟
بالنسبة لي الرواية لم تتفق مع نوعي المفضل في الأدب، وبالتأكيد لم تتفق مع قناعاتي الدينية أو الأخلاقية ..

من أغر�� الروايات التي قرأتها في حياتي

في النهاية هل أقيمها ؟
Profile Image for Amber.
102 reviews20 followers
July 17, 2019
What a bloody waste of a good idea! First off, the concept behind this book is brilliant. An eighteenth century writer and metaphysicist writes a book which contains within it an alchemy-like recipe which will allow the reader to enter the realm of disembodied thought. Cool! And it's full of philosophy and bizarre adventures. Double cool!


Now, maybe you can get past vomit-inducingly bad sentences like this:
"Sometimes, on these January afternoons, the sun squats low in the sky like an orange-robed Buddha in a documenary on the meaning of life."

Which is good, because they're everywhere. But can you get past an author who spends an entire novel trying to convince you that she's "the smartest one in the room"? Ms Thomas is so impressed by her own wit and intelligence, so thoughtless of her reader, that she sees fit to name-drop Derrida and "differance" and Flatland and whatever else in nearly every chapter, not in a way that draws the curious reader into these concepts but in a way designed -- like those people who name-drop in conversations without ever bothering to ask their listeners if they know what the heck they're talking about -- to exclude nearly everyone.

Now, I've read Derrida and Flatland. I've read "Simulacra and Simulation" and "The Outsider" and Husserl and Heidegger. Maybe this is why I found all of her constant referencing so annoying. Because **she doesn't know what the heck she's talking about**. Her plotline about the mental videogame and mousesex or whatever has very little to do with the idea of a simulacrum. The name-dropping is an excuse for lack of real thought -- it's exactly what undergrad students of philosophy do in order to gain purchase and lend credibility to themselves when really, what they have to say is really not all that deep or interesting at all. Because the name dropping is enough to snap all of the lesser posers into place, because it's not meant to excite someone about new ideas, it's meant to exclude (and make the excluded clambor puppy-like towards inclusion, meaning be damned!).

Yes, you can say differance is about no reference ever being completely shared and meaning being infinitely delayed and blah-de-blah -- but the fact remains that Derrida's work is based on a well-considered conceptual framework (whether you buy it or not), and this is pretty shoddily thought-out work -- underneath all of the critical theory hoo-ha and esoteric subculture claptrap. Someone should tell Ms Thomas that associating oneself with great minds does not make one's own mind great. I'd like to see anyone with any real understanding of philosophy read pages 283 - 287 and not laugh and laugh.

There are also long chunks of text, which have nothing to do with the story really, where Ms. Thomas waffles on about random pseudo-philosophical topics, the way a high school student does after they've seen The Matrix for the first time. I mean, this woman really thinks she's smarter than nearly all of her readers, and is convinced she can make you think that too. And as much as I like learning interesting facts (only elephants understand about death? That's pretty cool.) -- interesting facts do not a believable and engrossing fictional universe make. And the only thing worse than Ms Thomas is her main character, Ariel Manto, who is, in a word -- repulsive. She is unemotional, unlikeable, unbelievable --- and her author seems to be on a mission to convince us that she is "cool", by expounding on her troubled rebellious childhood and iPod art radio-listening habits.

I'm not even going to get into the cold, empty, obsessive, and rather disgusting treatment of sex.

So again, what a waste. I prefer smart books that are designed to bring their readers into the fold, not books that put on a show of being smart to try and dazzle you into thinking they have something to say. The End of Mr. Y has nothing interesting to say. It is a sham and -- I challenge you to dispute this after reading the idiotic ending -- a complete waste of time.
Profile Image for Antonomasia.
972 reviews1,194 followers
December 29, 2014
Whilst I agree that this has been oversold as far as unswervingly highbrow or hard SF readers are concerned, it's got plenty going for it as a character-driven fantasy novel, and Scarlett Thomas is becoming my new favourite comfort-reading author. (Even within my friends list, opinions of The End of Mr. Y range from "highly intellectual yet accessible" to "completely stupid", so this isn't the easiest review I've ever written.)

The book is, admittedly, comfortable because of its blend of familiar things I already love: impoverished postgrad Ariel has adventures whilst investigating work of fictional Victorian author (Possession, though the C19th pastiche extracts aren't half as good), drinks magic potion like Alice, encounters concepts from Pratchett's Small Gods and enters other minds like Granny Weatherwax gone borrowing or all those body-swap movies from the late 80s, and there's some Matrix type stuff for good measure. The overall tone is reminiscent of some of the stories in Neil Gaiman's wonderful collection Smoke and Mirrors, the narrative and plot being pushed by a protagonist with a strong personality and a darkish past and present, rather than by the SFF content itself. There's an argument for Scarlett Thomas's work as weirder, darker, more academically-inclined chicklit, but on the other hand, Ariel's angst and lust, and Thomas' moments of acute insight into messed-up people (esp. p277ish; also 345, 411 and all over the place really) are hardly different from the portrayals in Gaiman's male character-focused stories. (Unlike chicklit characters, Ariel never goes "huh! men!", tacitly seeming not to find them particularly 'other', and she hardly ever makes whole-gender-based generalisations. She spends a helluva lot of time thinking about other things [interesting things, not handbags and bad chardonnay] as well as love and sex, without seeing that as an either/or ... Thomas keeps writing characters I want to be friends with.) And as in Smoke and Mirrors, there are a couple of scenes sexier than plenty of stuff marketed as erotica - though there isn't as much shagging as some of the blurb quotes imply.

Reading posts about entirely different books made me realise that The End of Mr. Y will be of interest to people who like reversal of traditional gender roles in fantasy stories. Ariel is driving the adventure throughout, and her male love/lust interests are, as the adventure gets going, as peripheral and helpmeetish as they would be for a man in a typical action movie. This is perhaps less the case towards the end but I might just see it that way because I'm a bitter old hag . At the same time I could still think of plenty of stories in which the they would have been the other way round.

There's ample comment on Goodreads about inaccuracies in the characters' academic discussions (especially re. physics and the "linguistic turn" of philosophy and literary theory. The people who are complaining that homeopathy has an effect in the book simply need a reminder that this is fantasy fiction and that the works of Ben Goldacre can be overapplied.) The media has presented Mr. Y as formidably clever - to the chagrin of people who picked it up expecting some novelised Godel Escher Bach - but the tone of everything I read between the covers is casual musings from bright non-specialists ... it sounds like (and in some cases in the book is) conversations with friends after which you might realise you got something slightly wrong. If, for instance, Eng lit, theology and biology academics are riffing semi-drunkenly about what they've read in popular science books on quantum physics, what's here sounds fine in that context. (If I was joining in the pickiness, I'd say that Lamarck was presented as entirely infra-dig, although epigenetics - a topic that had already found its way into BBC documentaries a couple of years before Mr. Y was published - has given a new slant on his ideas. But then I realised that wasn't necessarily the point or the spirit of the book.) However I would have liked to have seen a little more determined accuracy from the narrator in tone as well as content in some of her home subject areas - if you're a postgrad you need to do that alongside the flights of enthusiasm.

But in the end the academic conversations are icing; you don't really need them to enjoy the rest of the book if you don't like them. The fantasy story is fine regardless - the chat and speculation is just how the characters look at their experience. Which I find more interesting than an unreflective adventure, though they do go on a bit sometimes.

I may only have given it four stars due to its faults and moments of derivativeness but I really loved The End of Mr. Y as I love too few books as an end in themselves. (Often I don't understand what the rest of you are on about re. loving books generally... A couple of years ago, a remover said, seeing the book cases, "So you like reading then?" The first, silent, response that came into my head, "Not really, but what the bloody hell else am I supposed to do?" ...Aloud, I made a vaguely affirmative non-verbal noise and started talking about cardboard boxes.) I was glad it was there when I couldn't sleep, I span it out so I could keep going back into its world - its plot analogy for addiction to an imaginary world actually applied - rather than trying to get it finished and ticked off. I'd have been delighted were it 1000 pages not 500, or if it was part of a series as long as Discworld.
Profile Image for Gregsamsa.
73 reviews343 followers
July 12, 2013
I have Scarlett Thomas to thank for a little embarrassing moment of discovering another little nugget of my own sexism. I thought, I can't dis- this book and give it one star. But why not? Because she's a she and I don't want to be mean? Better to be honest: this book is, I'm just going to say it: STUPID.

The hype totally had me; I couldn't not read it: thought experiments (none actually handled), the nature of consciousness (adding an alternate reality does not interrogate the subject), Derrida (namedropped only, save for a few reductive squeaks, like "meaning is fluid" oh, is it?), causal chains and temporality (real problems of "what if" variety summarily dismissed), quantum physics (nope, not a bit). I don't guess it's dishonest to say that the book contains these things, since they are mentioned, but if you're looking for an actual exploration of these subjects or even a competent handling of them within a narrative rather than an extremely dorky soft sci-fi story overburdened with clunky expositional dialog and cute ironies, you will be disappointed. The End of Mr.Y. The End of Mister Y. The End of Mystery. Get it? The book is never more clever than that.

Profile Image for Lauren Smith.
179 reviews129 followers
November 23, 2010
This is an adventure in thought experiments. This is idea porn. It's the most cerebral fun I’ve ever had. The End of Mr Y is a cocktail of postmodern philosophy, quantum physics, metafiction, science fiction and adventure. If any of that sounds intimidating, rest assured that this isn’t like reading Derrida, Heidegger, Baudrillard or any of the convoluted philosophies that Ariel Manto likes to immerse herself in. Early on she says that she “quite like[s] the way you can talk about science without necessarily using mathematics, but using metaphors instead” (29) and that really goes for all the key theories so beautifully woven into the story. The End of Mr Y is in itself a thought experiment for all the science and philosophy it explores, a mind-warping vision of a postmodern existence where language creates reality rather than just describing it.

Read the full review on my blog Violin in a Void
Profile Image for Ova - Excuse My Reading.
472 reviews359 followers
March 14, 2018
This was quite a roller coaster ride, a fun one though!

It reminded me a lot of Tim Powers's 'Anubis Gates'- if you liked this you will like it and vice versa!
Profile Image for Mohamed Bayomi.
215 reviews132 followers
August 27, 2021
التناقضات تقترب اكثر فأكثر ، تكاد تكون متلاصقة ، بل تكاد أن تكون نفس شيء ، فالفرق بين الحقيقة والوهم او بين التجربة العلمية والتجربة الذهنية هو نفس الفرق بين الكوانتم والميتافيزيقيا ، هو لا شئء ، حيث كونك موجود او غير موجود هما نفس الشيء ،
من عالم نيوتن الحتمي والآلي لعالم الكوانتم الذي يبدو كل شيء فيه مجموعة لا نهائية من الاحتمالات حتى أنا وانت ، الاكترون فيه هو جسم وموجة في نفس الوقت ، يكون في كل مكان ومكان واحد ، يحتاج الادراك ليكون موجود ، السرعة تتخطى سرعة الضوء ، تصبح العودة الى الماضي متصورة و مخاطبة الاشباح ممكنة ، والمادة تصبح ابنة الفكر
يقول كامو
ولكنك تخبرني عن نظام كوني غير مرئي تنجذب فيه الالكترونات إلى نواة ، وانت تفسر لي العالم بالصورة ، و أدرك حينئذ انك تقلصت إلى حد الشعر ، وأنني لن أعرف ، وهل يتاح لي الوقت كي أستاء؟ ، لقد غيرت انت النظريات بحيث أن العلم الذي كان سيعلمني كل شيء انتهى إلى فرضية
Profile Image for F.R..
Author 29 books197 followers
December 14, 2015
There are some books you read where you know incredibly swiftly that you absolutely LOVE them. You get about a quarter of the way through and find yourself totally entranced by just how much you’re enjoying every single page, but it’s an entrancement mixed with a kind of niggling dread where you whisper to the book: “Please don’t let me down! Please don’t let me down!” You sit there reading and desperately praying: “Please don’t be this good and then tumble away to crap! Don’t do an Icarus and crash to Earth, your second half being a pale shadow of your brilliant early self. Please don’t! Please don’t!”

That was my experience on reading ‘The End of Mr Y’.

And fortunately it didn’t down.

There are some books that you just connect with. You get them and they get you. I am genetically pre-programmed to enjoy reading about a young, mixed up, red-head academic and her quest for meaning in life; but more than that, the unashamed bibliophile part of me was always going to be excited when that quest led to her tracking down the last copy of a seemingly cursed book. (In addition I particularly enjoyed that that cursed book seemed to fit in seamlessly to a curious minded part of Victoriana.) Then I liked that there was so much popular science and philosophy dropped in. Now, to be fair, I don’t read much of that stuff myself but I always like to learn by osmosis. And it goes almost without saying that I was always going to love that this is a book packed with wonderful sentences like: “Monday morning, and the sky is the colour of sad weddings.” While even when this novel swerves into fantasy, which at other points in my life I’d have found a turn off, it hit me in the perfect place, my mind receptive to every turn. In short this is a book which felt made specifically for me. Okay, even though I loved it, I can’t imagine that it’s going to be a perfect match for everyone, it certainly won’t fit like a literary glove to everybody’s tastes – but if you are on the right wavelength, this is a truly beautiful, fantastical, intelligent and amazing piece of work.
Profile Image for Magdi.
184 reviews48 followers
February 16, 2022
"معروف أنّ «نهاية السيِّد واي » تتبعها لعنةٌ ما، ومع أنّني بالطبع لا أؤمن بتلك الأمور لكنّ بعضهم يعتقدون فعلًا أنّك إن قرأتها...تَمُت."

تصحبنا " سكارليت توماس" في عالم سوريالي غرائبي - كعوالم موراكامي الغرائبية: حيث تتكلم هنا الفئران بدلًا من القطط- عالم يتأرجح ما بين الواقعية والخيال، الخرافة والعقل، الفلسفة والفيزياء، مازجةً ما هو منطقي وغير منطقي في قالب روائي ساحر، خليط رائع من الإثارة والغموض والرمزية والمجاز والجنون والحب والكتب والفلاسفة والعلماء.

"لا بدّ أنّ لعنة السيِّد واي تعني أن تصير جزءًا من كتاب؛ كائنًا من نسج النصّ، كائنًا فضائيًّا... كتابيًا، أو ربّما، مع اعتبار أنّ الكتب ليست فضاءً، كائنًا نصّيًّا."

فبعدما كانت تسير "آرييل مانتو" في دوامة حياتها الاعتيادية الفوضوية بين الكتابة والقراءة والجنس والأكل، تنقلب حياتها فجأةً بعد أن تجد نسخة من رواية "نهاية السيّد واي" للعالم: توماس لوماس - الذي تعد بحثًا حول حياته- في أحد متاجر الكتب القديمة، وتكتشف أنها تلك النسخة الوحيدة في العالم، والتي يقول عنها البعض أنها تحمل لعنة! وبعد قراءتها تكتشف وصفة خاصة تدخلها في مغامرة فكرية مثيرة: حيث تجربة - التروبوسفير - الانتقال عبر الأذهان، ومن ثم تطاردها عصابة للحصول على الوصفة.

ماذا قد يحدث إن استطيع البشر التنقل عبر التروبوسفير؟ كالسفر حول العالم في أذهان الناس والحيوانات، ومعرفة أسرارهم ورغباتهم وشهواتهم! ماذا قد يحدث إن استطيع أحدهم التجول في ذهنك، وأن يكون قادرًا على اللهو والعبث بأفكارك ومعتقداتك، بل يكون قادرًا على تغيير ماضيك وإعادة بناء حاضرك ومن ثم مستقبلك؛ أن يشكل حياتك ويلهو بها وفقًا لمصالحه ورغباته؟!

"إنّ علم ما يكفي من البشر بشأن التروبوسفير، سنشهد أسوأ سيناريو ممكنًا: لا ربّ... ولا إرادة حرّة أيضًا. سيكون بمقدور بعضهم أن يتحكّموا في أذهان الآخرين ببساطة. قد يتلاعب أصحاب النفوذ ببقيّتنا ببساطة ليجعلونا نفكّر فيما يريدوننا أن نفكّر فيه، قد يمحون أيّ أفكار «سيّئة» أو «ثورية»."

طرحت الكاتبة العديد من النظريات العلمية والفلسفية، عن: الله، نشأة الكون، الانفجار العظيم، التطور، ونشأة الوعي: وما هو؟ وهل الوعي هو الذي يخلق العالم؟ وهل أفكارنا لها دور في تكوين الظواهر والمواد في العالم أم لا؛ وإذا كان للوعي الإنساني أن يتطور من لا شيء، فلماذا لا يحدث ذلك لوعي الآلات؟ وغيرها من أسئلة والنظريات التي نقاشتها الكتابة بأسلوب مبسط وسلس ووظفتها بشكل بارع عبر أحداث الرواية وحوارات أبطالها؛ لتفتح في عقل القارئ آفاقًا كثيرة للتفكر في الكون والحياة بشكلٍ عام. رواية رائعة جدًا،لكنها مرهقة كذلك، وترجمتها غاية في الأناقة. #تمت😍
Profile Image for Odai Al-Saeed.
867 reviews2,374 followers
August 31, 2017
رواية ثلجية باردة حتى الصقيع ولا عجب فهي آتية من بلاد الضباب حيث ما اشتهر بها قاطنوها بذلك،،،
تتعلق بذلك الحس الغامض بروئ تنشد شد الانتباه ضمن إيقاع بطيئ ومضمونها مخطوطة نادرة وافكار علمية تتعلق ضمن مجتمع جامعي وعلاقات أكاديمية بين طالبة ومسؤولها
هواجس وأسفار متقطعة تفقد القارئ حس الرغبة واعتقد انها من الممكن ان تقرأ بمهل ضمن اجواء صافية لدى القارئ فهي ليست من الروايات التي تمس روح الإثارة في نفسك مهما عظم محتواها
الثلاثة نجوم لانها تضمنت فكر عن العلوم التطبيقية يجعلها مختلفة الى حد ما وقد اجتهدت الكاتبة كي تنقله .... من جهتي لم اصدق متى انتهي منها
Profile Image for Sarah ~.
685 reviews767 followers
April 21, 2019
"أدعو أن أصل لمعنى. أن تتضحَ حدودُ الحقيقة. أنْ يكون ثمَّة عالم ونوع من الوجود- يحكمه منطق ما ."
Profile Image for محمود المحادين.
210 reviews37 followers
December 24, 2020
نهاية السيد واي

سكارليت توماس

الكاتبة من مواليد لندن عام 1972من أعمالها السابقة :أشياء صغيرة براقة، الخروج، بوب كو، سنة 2001تم تضمين إسمها بقائمة الإندبندنت لأفضل الكتاب الشباب في المملكة المتحدة،أعمالها وصلت لعشر روايات وقصص أطفال، حالياً بتدرس الأدب الإنجليزي والكتابة الإبداعية في جامعة كنت... إنكتب عن روايتها هاي اللي انباعت بأكثر من 22دولة بجريدة التايمز :رواية بها مسحة تبعث على السرور من الكتب القديمة ورائحة كبريت قوية...

قبل ما تكمل اسم سكارليت عطول بكمل عنك الجوجل سكارليت جوهانسون، غريبة خيارات العالم مؤخراً إما إنه عنا جوع مزمن للجمال أو إنه مقاييسنا تدهورت بالعقدين الأخيرين بحيث تراجعت الأدب والمعرفة لصالح الأناقة والجمال...

الكتاب بمجمله بحكي عن التجارب الذهنية واللي بتختلف عن التجارب العلمية بعدم قدرة صاحبها الوحيد على إثباتها بأدلة وقرائن وبراهين ملموسة، هي مجرد أفكار بتدور براس شخص واحد بسبب تفكيره المختلف وفضوله وإطلاعه الواسع لكن للأسف ما بتلقى تجاوب أو تشجيع بالعكس بتهمو صاحبها بالجنون خاصة إنه الفكرة ما بتكون نقية بذهن صاحبها على الرغم من إنطلاقه من أساسيات علمية ونظريات مثبتة لكن للأسف بعد حد معين بتصير نظريته عاطفية ومبالغ فيها بالتالي بتصير مجرد أوهام... عبر التاريخ وجدنا كثير من التجارب الذهنية اللي أثبتها العلم بعد قرون من تفكير بعض الأشخاص فيها بشكل نظري وذهني وبسبب عجزه عن إثباتها لإفتقار محيطه لإدراك رؤيته المستقبلية اندثر ذكره على حساب شخص بعده بقرون ساعدته التكنولوجيا على نقل تجربته للواقع...

البطلة طالبة دكتوراة فضولية جداً بتخلط بين حبها وإحترامها للبحث العلمي وتفكيرها بعيد المدى عن الفيزياء والسفر عبر الزمن والتجارب الذهنية، أثناء دراستها بتلقى كتاب إسمه نهاية السيد واي بتسمع عنه إنه مصحوب بلعنة بتقتل أي شخص بقرب منه بدءاً من كاتبه وناشره وصولا للشخص الوحيد اللي قرأه وحصل ع��ى نسخة منه وبعدها إختفى... الكتاب بكون ناقص صفحة لكنها بتلقاها بالصدفة وبكون فيها وصفة للسفر للماضي بمكان إسمه التروبوسفير ما فيه قيمة للمسافة أو الأبعاد... بتنتهي رحلتها بالعودة لذهن الكاتب ومنعه من كتابة الكتاب والوصفة وهون بتطرح سؤال إنه إذا تغير الماضي شو بكون شكل المستقبل؟؟

ما بعرف ليش الكاتبة أصرت بجميع مراحل الرواية على إظهار آرييل البطلة بمظهر البائسة المحتاجة اللي أبوها وأمها تخلوا عنها وكانوا سيئين معها وبكثير من الأوقات كانت بحاجة لعلاقات مؤقتة باردة مع أشخاص ما كانت تحمل نحوهم أي عاطفة وكانت تستغلهم بشكل واضح للحصول على المال أو الحب...كانت تعيش من مردود ضعيف مقابل مقال بتكتبه بشكل دوري وبتعيش بمكان قذر بارد كله فيران...هل الفكرة إنه دايماً إحنا ما بنسمع للناس الفاشلين بحياتهم العملية؟ يعني مين كان رح يصدق أفكارها وهي عايشة هيك حياة؟ أو يمكن الأفكار المجنونة بتطلع من الناس اللامبالين المتحرررين من جمود العلم والنظريات المعلبة؟؟؟
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257 reviews21 followers
February 27, 2010
This is a good example of good idea executed badly. I liked the concept and the first 25 pages. Ariel Manto is doing a Phd on a strange author from the 1800s and by accident comes across his rarest book in a used bookstore. What follows is an account of what she does with the contents of the book and the suspense of a mystery involving two creepy American policemen who are out to get her, it seems.

but in reality, what follows is the author showcasing how much she knows about philosophy and how much of it she can sneak into the plotline. Don't get me wrong, i love a well-researched novel and it's very nice to have a little background to the world she creates, but too much is too much. I can't bear anymore Heidegger or Derida. I didn't really learn much about philosophy either. Just that it's very complicated.

I think that this is a very nice read if you know lots and lots about philosophy and are interested in seeing their theories applied in a book.

There were some ideas in there that I liked (the trains, the troposphere) but they weren't really explained thoroughly. The plot, when stripped of all the fancyness, seems a little meagre. the characters weren't very appealing. but, still, a good idea.

book: 10/50
pages: 3350
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