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Unsong by Scott Alexander


Kabbalah is true, all patterns are meaningful, and the world runs on a combination of strained analogy and wordplay. Big Silicon Valley corporations copyright the Names of God and make a killing. International diplomats transform the ancient conflict between Heaven and Hell into a US-Soviet proxy war. An autistic archangel and his eight-year old apprentice laboriously debug the laws of physics. A group of billionaires hire a magical ship to go find God and tell Him what He’s doing wrong. Cells of militant Unitarians harbor dangerous placebo terrorists. And amateur kabbalist Aaron Smith-Teller, distant relative of nuclear physicist Edward Teller (“Not ushering in the apocalypse is not really a family strong point”) discovers a legendary Name of God and hatches a plan to usher in the Messianic age from his home computer, which goes exactly as well as you would expect.

A serialized novel, updating weekly

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Listed: Aug 23, 2016


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Solid, remarkable but not conventionally impressive

By Pavel Sadovnikov, member

Feb 21, 2017: Huh? How come that Unsong is currently third on topwebfiction but has only two reviews?

Really creative concept of magic system. Interesting and verbose alternative history; if you like this stuff, definitely must read. Insight-ish, but if you want insights, you’d better check up Scott’s Meditations on Moloch. Lots and lots of amusive Bible puns, but, again, if you want puns check up his Study of Anglophysics first to know what to expect. Main protagonists are somewhat pale; there’re a few [more . . .]

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When is a bible like a Raven?

By Alexander.Hollins, member

Oct 21, 2016: Unsong is a pun lover’s dream. Lets just get that out of the way. If you don’t like puns, just walk away.

Still here? Good. Many of the puns in question relate to the Bible, and kaballah. You don’t have to know anything about kaballah, but some of the jokes make more sense if you do. The story has several seperate plot lines all in motion, and is slowly weaving them together. There are also regular extra bits and pieces, news [more . . .]

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Brilliantly clever, but lacking as a story

By eSPiaL, member

Mar 21, 2017: The magic system and lore of Unsong is one of the most amazingly unique and clever ideas I’ve ever come across in a story. It’s worth reading a few chapters at least just to see how ‘magic’ as a concept does not have to be constrained to the fireballs and dragons of traditional fantasy, or contained to the scientific and rational rule based ‘magic systems’ that is increasingly popular in modern fantasy. Honestly, this system puts even more established and famous ‘magic/power’ systems of authors such as Brandon Sanderson, and [more . . .]

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