Jack Faust

Jack Faust

by Michael Swanwick

And so begins Swanwick's masterful reinvention of Goethe's story of a scholar who sells his soul to the Devil for the gift of unlimited Knowledge.But the wisdom this Mephistopheles offers goes far beyond anything even imagined in Goethe's day.

The principles of flight, technology and economics, the mysteries of the cosmos, medicine and the atom -- all are made known to Faust as he remakes the world in his own image, ushering in the New Age of Mechanization centuries before its rightful day.

Ultimately it is love -- for his creations and for a woman named Margarete -- that damns Jack Faust, as this brilliant story spins forward through time, pulling the reader to the very brink of the new millennium to confront the "progress" Faust has wrought.Lyrical, arresting and provocative, "Jack Faust" is a cause for celebration -- it is an extraordinary work that entertains gloriously as it takes a deep and disturbing look into the collective soul of humankind.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fantasy
  • Rating: 3.59
  • Pages: 337
  • Publish Date: September 30th 1997 by Avon Books
  • Isbn10: 0380974444
  • Isbn13: 9780380974443

Read the Book "Jack Faust" Online

This is a vision of the Faust story for a secular-minded age: the protagonist's bargain, in the early decades of the 16th century as a scholar who's lost his faith, is not with the devil, but with a malevolent alien race supposedly omniscient and capable of communicating telepathically across the vastness of space, and one of their first supposed "revelations" to Faust is that "there is no God." And unlike the devil, they're not bargaining for a human soul. What they want of Faust is to be the conduit for their scientific knowledge and nihilistic philosophy into the 16th century, to ensure that the human race will complete its own self-destruction in Faust's lifetime. I rated this one as highly as I did, partly because Swanwick's story-telling skills here are pretty effective at involving the reader, and partly because this is a very penetrating, honest critique of exactly what modernity has done to the human race, in terms of the quality of our lives and thought and our relations with each other (not a Pollyanna celebration of the glories of "Science and Progress").

(view spoiler)Faust repeatedly receives advanced scientific knowledge that leads to society-wide changes.

No entanto, em qualquer pacto há sempre o outro lado e quando questionados sobre o que pretendem em troca, é-lhe mostrada uma visão horrenda do fim da humanidade, da destruição da raça humana provocada pelo próprio ser humano. O conhecimento que lhe vai sendo transmitido, tem um propósito bem definido, é que este seja aplicado no desenvolvimento massivo de armamento, de material bélico, que possa conduzir ao fim desejado por aqueles que visitam Fausto, a destruição da raça humana, raça insignificante perante a vastidão do Universo. Ao despertar da sua doença, Fausto começa uma nova vida, e como prometido é-lhe transmitido o conhecimento que lhe permite desenvolver novas teorias e conceitos da física e da matemática, inovando a tecnologia e provocando uma verdadeira revolução industrial em pleno século XV.

The premise is that these aliens wish to terminate humanity by accelerating the development of technology, which of course happens.

Faust said with sudden apprehension, "Yes. Yes, what do you want of me in return?" "Only that you listen." p.28 A demonic bargain, to be surein a sense, the same one I ask of you here. The demon makes it clear that its gifts are made from malice, but Faust accepts them anyway, telling himself (and Mephistopheles) that humanity might not use them for destruction after all.