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Eifelheim
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Eifelheim

4.3 18
by Michael Flynn
 

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The alien world of medieval Europe lives again, transformed by the physics of the future, by a winner of the Heinlein Award

Over the centuries, one small town in Germany has disappeared and never been resettled. Tom, a historian, and his theoretical physicist girlfriend Sharon, become interested. By all logic, the town should have survived. What's so

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Eifelheim 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
JGolomb More than 1 year ago
"Eifelheim" is one of those transcendent science fiction stories where an author is able to treat very human and Earth-bound issues with a well-reasoned and fascinating gloss of aliens and science. Author Michael Flynn's alien mythos and capabilities are believable and seamlessly integrated into the very real history of plague-era Germany. The core of "Eifelheim" revolves around a middle-ages Catholic priest who manages a church in the high forests of Germany. This quiet little fairy tale village, Oberhochwald, is literally shaken at its' roots following a freakishly strong and sudden storm. Much more than a storm, an alien ship has crash-landed and Father Dietrich is thrust to the forefront of this tale of first contact. In parallel, two scientists - a historian and physicist - independently come across clues that slowly reveal why this village, over time, not only changed names to Eifelheim, but also completely disappeared from the historical map. Flynn does a masterful job of combining the root middle-ages story with the all-too-brief and tantalizing modern day vignettes. In combination, they build a compelling mystery with well-rounded and emotive characters (both human and alien). The heart of Flynn's book is really about discovery and the very human and relatable interactions between these beings from very different worlds and different societies. The aliens aren't just different biologically (they look like giant grasshoppers) and technologically, but they exist with an imbued sense of community and innately bred need to live within a very structured societal existence. As the historian delves deeper into the mystery of the missing village, he discovers the myth and legend behind Eifelheim. And this is where the story shines. Flynn builds a wonderful world out of this middle-ages town and the odd circumstances of its disappearance. Father Dietrich develops the initial and most poignant relationships with the aliens who come to be known as the Krenken and over time takes full advantage to turn these beings into new parishioners. I fear exposing too much of this wonderful story that is best read by unwrapping each layer after satisfying layer. Flynn marvelously reveals the inner character of humans and aliens alike while immersing the reader in the existence of life during middle ages Europe. The book touches on evolutionary theory, the age of religious and scientific enlightenment, and the thinking that propels the world out of the dark ages and into the brightness of the renaissance. "Eifelheim" is scientific and science fiction. It's also history and historical fiction. And while doing all of these things very well, the book is character driven and implemented so well by Flynn that it crosses the boundaries of traditional categorization.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing book -- a wonderfully sensitive reflection on Medieval Christianity, albeit with a particularly modern bent -- a fascinating, thoroughly engrossing bit of escapism -- and an engaging mystery novel to boot -- I enjoyed it from the first page to the last -- others have said that the book has slow points, but I felt the pace was just right, in both its modern and medieval aspects
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JonMoss More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed all the 14th century scenes and plot. I didn't care for the 'now' (i.e. present day) interludes. The peasants, priests, lords and aliens proved more believable than a modern day female quantum physicist cohabitating with a male cliologist (described as a 'big picture' statistical history theorist or something along those lines). A very good first contact story juxtaposed with historical fiction set during some of the darkest days endured by Europeans. For the rest of my review, please visit: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/93603980
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the story very much because of the historical setting and the details the author brought out about life in the Middle Ages. I did find his use of foreign phrases distracting.
polar More than 1 year ago
The premise is interesting, but the execution is excruciating. The two "modern" characters are highly uninteresting. If you are into medieval holidays this is the book for you. Otherwise stay away. You will find yourself checking your watch.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting idea and well-written, but not the sort of thing you just can't put down. It has two plot lines, one current and one middle ages. The historical depiction of a middle age town seems well-researched and is fascinating. The book presents a wonderful contrast between the cultural, philosophic and religious viewpoints of three groups: the learned priest in the middle age village, the aliens, and our own modern thinking. In some ways I found our ancestors more alien than the aliens, which I believe was the author's intention. A good science fiction book needs to make me think about the ideas for several days, and this one succeeded in that. But it only drew me intellectually, as I could not get fully interested in the characters. Overall, however, worth reading.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
It was hard to read this book at first, but after a while I got used to the writing. Almost like having to get comfortable with an accent. If I had gone to bed 10 minutes earlier the night I decided to leap ahead 40 pages I might not have got caught up in it. But I am glad I did because it was a fun read. The sci-fi won't blow you away but reading about Dietrich, the Krenken and their interaction with the town is certainly out of the ordinary, which was a nice change of pace. It even gave me a few new perspective-thoughts in the cultural - religious - scientific realm to mull over.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Flynn is at his best conveying the mindset of the High Middle Ages: Feudal/Manorial life, Scholastic philosophy, and social unrest. The sci-fi elements set in the present are less involving and seem at times almost to intrude. Overall, however, it is a beautifully written, moving story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The basic concept and plot was great but I can't help but think the novella was probably a better story, for being shorter and hopefully more focused. There was just so much going on here historically and politically that never really tied in to the theme or plot completely and seemed to be there just to flesh out the setting which it did moderately well. Where it fails is in making history about the people instead of the events. The only complete character is Dietrich, which is the novel's saving grace. His attempts to grasp science, which is now generally understood, without the foundations necessary to make the leap was truly fascinating. His conversations with Hans and Joachim are the best parts of the plot. The two contemporary characters were mere shadows of complete people, which would have been acceptable in a shorter novel but in a story of this length and complexity I would have expected them to be more than mere devices to tie to wrap up the plot. This novel got my brain interested but never got me emotionally involved. The plague never quite came across as a tragedy of life lost, just a historical event.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Historian Tom Schwoerin learns that during the height of the plague sweeping across central Europe in 1349, Eifelheim became a ghost town. Tom could find no apparent reason why the town was never resettled once the worst was over. He enlists his significant other physicist Sharon Nagy to help him investigate what happened to the German Black Forest village Eifelheim. Tom studies strange stained-glass windows with giant grasshopper pictures on them while Sharon struggles with a medieval manuscript that shows what looks like a circuit. --- In 1348, a spaceship crashed in the Black Forest. The intergalactic travelers the Krenken, grasshopper-looking aliens, survived due to the efforts of local Pastor Father Dietrich. He makes friends with the Krenken and converts them to Christianity eventually baptizing them even while trying to help them find a means to return home. While the villagers follow the lead of their pastor that the outsiders are God fearing beings and not demons others nearby assume evil has moved in Eifelheim and God¿s wrath brought the plague and killed the aliens who died from a diet insufficiency as no food contained a key amino acid they needed to break down the nutrients. --- This excellent science fiction thriller combines a delightful subplot of aliens visiting Germany during the Black Plague and a wonderful modern day ¿historical¿ mystery. Fans will appreciate both eras as Tom and Sharon struggle with evidence that makes no sense unless you were there. Michael Flynn provides one of the year¿s most intelligent entertaining tales with this superb winner. --- Harriet Klausner