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The Mount

The Mount

3.5 4
by Carol Emshwiller

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An award-winning novel; a fable of freedom and slavery.


An award-winning novel; a fable of freedom and slavery.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Like Emshwiller's startlingly perceptive short fiction and her previous novel, Carmen Dog (1990), where women begin to degenerate into animals and animals start evolving upward into womanhood, this novel turns our supposed certainties into beautiful and terrible insights. Writing in skeletal prose from the adolescent point of view of Charley, a boy who dreams of becoming a famous racer (ridden by his alien Little Master, the reptilian? avian? marsupial? Future-Ruler-of-Us-All), Emshwiller picks up human history several generations after a successful Hoot invasion has turned most of humanity into "mounts," bred for speed and beauty and trained with whips and savage bits to do their masters' will. In the mountains, though, a few wild humans lurk, led by Charley's father, plotting to rise up against the Hoots and take back the world they lost. Glimpses of arresting sorrow meld here with teenage dreams and hopes and anguish, shaped subtly with a poet's sure touch into finely crafted characterizations of human-as-not-quite-animal, Hoot-as-not-quite-monster, coming together through heartbreak and abandonment of previously hard-held prejudices. Brilliantly conceived and painfully acute in its delineation of the complex relationships between masters and slaves, pets and owners, the served and the serving, this poetic, funny and above all humane novel deserves to be read and cherished as a fundamental fable for our material-minded times. Agent, Wendy Weil. (Aug. 1) Forecast: Blurbs from Glen David Gold, Kim Stanley Robinson, Maureen McHugh and Connie Willis, among other big names, will ensure lots of attention for this small press item, which should go quickly into reprint. It's a natural for classroom adoption at the high school or college level. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This veteran science-fiction writer is known for original plots and characters, and her latest novel does not disappoint, offering an extraordinary, utterly alien, and thoroughly convincing culture set in the not-too-distant future. Emshwiller brings readers immediately into the action, gradually revealing the takeover of Earth by the Hoots, otherworldly beings with superior intelligence and technology. Humans have become the Hoots' "mounts," and, in the case of the superior Seattle bloodline, valuable racing stock. Most mounts are well off, as the Hoots constantly remind them, and treated kindly by affectionate owners who use punishment poles as rarely as possible. No one agrees more than principal narrator Charley, a privileged young Seattle whose rider-in-training will someday rule the world. The adolescent mount's dream is of bringing honor to his beloved Little Master by becoming a great champion like Beauty, his sire, whose portrait decorates many Hoot walls. When Charley learns that his father now leads the renegade bands called Wilds, he and Little Master flee. This complex and compelling blend of tantalizing themes offers numerous possibilities for speculation and discussion, whether among friends or in the classroom.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Small Beer Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

We're not against you, we're for. In fact we're built for you and you for us--we, so our weak little legs will dangle on your chest and our tail down the back. Exactly as you so often transport your own young when they are weak and small. It's a joy. Just like a mother-walk.

You'll be free. You'll have a pillow. You'll have a water faucet and a bookcase. We'll pat you if you do things fast enough and don't play hard to catch. We'll rub your legs and soak your feet. Sams and Sues, and you Sams had better behave yourselves.

You still call us aliens in spite of the fact that we've been on your world for generations. And why call aliens exactly those who've brought health and happiness to you? And look how well we fit, you and us. As if born for each other even though we come from different worlds.

We mate the stocky with the stocky, the thin with the thin, the pygmy with the pygmy. You've done a fairly good job with that yourselves before we came. As to skin, we like a color a little on the reddish side. Freckles are third best.

Your type is called a Seattle. I hope to find other Seattles to mate with you, and soon.

Your young will stay with their mothers until weaning. We'll stroke them all over to make them love us. Four months is the crucial time for imprinting you predators. And your young do love us. You all do. We're the ones with the treats. Leather straps will help keep you in line and help us keep our seat. There will sometimes be prickers on our toes. How and if these are used, and when, depends, of course, on you.

You are the recipient of our kindness, our wealth and knowledge, our intelligence, our good growth of greens. Without usyou'd not exist. Remember that. Though it's true a few of you still survive in the mountains. We care nothing for mountains. What can you grow in the mountains that's not better grown in the valleys? Or build?

There is no need for you, or any of you, to learn how to count. And why read? We like you well-muscled. Reading is not conducive to muscles. We prefer that you hook yourself to the go-round instead.

My offspring will be pleased with you. They already know good lines: Slope of shoulders, rise of chest, slim waist, more so in your females. And, and most important, sturdy legs. Legs are what we're taught to notice first. Hands last. Compared to ours, your hands are so small and weak. Then there's the look in the eye. You should have a kind eye. Many things depend on such knowledge, or else there would be more danger than there already always is.

Our young adore you. They even adore your straps and buckles. They keep your pictures above where they curl up. They hang your worn-out shoes over their doorways. They save apples for you that they feed you piece-by-piece--and strawberries and chocolate.

As we go along on your shoulders, head to head (so sweetly!), cheek to cheek, our sun hats cover you also, and our rain hats. Some of us whisper our most secret secrets into your ear as we go.

What People are Saying About This

Glen David Gold
I've been a fan of Carol Emshwiller's since the wonderful Carmen Dog. The Mount is a terrific novel, at once an adventure story and a meditation on the psychology of freedom and slavery. It's literally haunting (days after finishing it, I still think about all the terrible poetry of the Hoot/Sam relationship) and hypnotic. I'm honored to have gotten an early look at it.
— author of Carter Beats the Devil
Kim Stanley Robinson
We are all Mounts and so should read this book like an instruction manual that could help save our lives. That it is also a beautiful funny novel is the usual bonus you get by reading Carol Emshwiller. She always writes them that way.
— -- Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Years of Rice and Salt
Luis Alberto Urrea
Carol Emshwiller's The Mount is a wicked book. Like Harlan Ellison's darkest visions, Emshwiller writes in a voice that reminds us of the golden season when speculative fiction was daring and unsettling. Our world suddenly seems wrought with terrible ironies and a severe kind of beauty. When we are the mounts, who -- or what -- is riding us?
— author of Six Kinds of Sky
Maureen McHugh
This novel is like a tesseract, I started it and thought, ah, I see what she's doing. But then the dimensions unfolded and somehow it ended up being about so much more.
— author of Nekropolis
I've loved everything Carol Emshwiller has ever written, but in her new novel, The Mount, she outdoes herself. This story of mounts and riders has so much to say about slaves and masters, humans and animals, parents and children, cruelty and kindness‹and about tunnel vision and tricks and tears and society and history and the world‹that it¹s impossible to believe she¹s gotten it into one small, simple, unforgettable book. A true original by a true original!
— author of Passage

Meet the Author

Carol Emshwiller (sfwa.org/members/emshwiller) is the author of many acclaimed novels and story collections, including Carmen DogThe Start of the End of It All (winner of the World Fantasy Award),Report to the Men’s Club and Other Stories, I Live with You and You Dont’ Know It, and The Mount (winner of the Philip K. Dick Award and a Nebula Award finalist). She teaches in the NYU Continuing Education program, and divides her time between homes in New York City and California.

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The Mount 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the very best sci-fi books I have ever read.
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