The Coincidence Engine

The Coincidence Engine

eBook - 2011
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Random House, Inc.
“A tremendous novel—droll, savvy, original. An invigorating blast of fiction.”
—William Boyd
, Author of Any Human Heart and Restless.”
A hurricane sweeps off the Gulf of Mexico and, in the back country of Alabama, assembles a passenger jet out of old bean cans and junkyard waste. This piques the interest of the enigmatic Directorate of the Extremely Improbable. Their fascination with this random event sets into motion a madcap caper that will bring together a hilarious cast of characters, including: an eccentric mathematician, last heard of investigating the physics of free will; a lovelorn Cambridge postgraduate who has set off to America with a ring in his pocket and hope in his heart; and a member of the Directorate with no capacity for imagination.  What ensues is a chaotic chase across a fully realized, hyper-real America, haunted by madness, murder, mistaken identity, and conspiracy.  The Coincidence Engine is a lively, boisterous debut that heralds the arrival of a major new talent.

Baker & Taylor
When a Gulf of Mexico hurricane inexplicably assembles a passenger jet out of refuse, the head of the Directorate of the Extremely Improbable triggers a madcap caper involving an eccentric mathematician, a lovelorn Cambridge postgraduate and an unimaginative Directorate member. A first novel by the author of Dead Pets. 30,000 first printing.

Publisher: London ; New York : Bloomsbury, 2011
ISBN: 9780307716446
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Oct 12, 2013

I thought it was a great premise, and for the first 2/3's of it, I couldn't put it down. Then it crashed and burned. Felt the ending was a cop-out.

Feb 17, 2013

WARNING: Spoiler Alert! (but you may thank me)

I dove into this novel thinking, "What a wonderful sci-fi premise," but by the end, I was angry at the author for having mislead me.

If I could speak directly to the author, I say, "Artistic license is fine for a reporter, but when it comes to fiction, revealing that the coincidence engine never really existed is tantamount to saying: it was all a dream."

Anyone who's studied writing knows that one of the big rules is: don't tell your reader at the end of the story that it was all a dream. Saying the central premise of the story never existed is just as bad if not worse. What that's telling the reader is that the author was just too lazy to give the story an internal logic or was just not up to making that internal logic work to its rightful conclusion.

All the way through the story, the reader is lead to believe there's a coincidence engine. Further, the reader is given lots of opportunities to guess what that engine is and how it works.

And, BTW, saying at the end that the whole thing was orchestrated by a senior member of a government agency just doesn't work. There were too many coincidences that aren't explained by that 'explanation.'

I agree with some of the other comments about the characters in this story. Wonderfully realized and fun to follow. But another big mistake the author made was to kill off all the really nasty antagonists before the story's climax.

Anyway, I've had my rant and perhaps I've saved someone else from expecting more than this novel delivers.

Michael Colford Jul 11, 2012

Very clever premise, about a secret organization hunting down a mysterious machine that may or may not be able to alter probability (shades of the Scarlet Witch! - inside joke). There are several amusing moments, some pretty entertainingly quirky characters, and a satisfyingly bizarre conclusion. It's a pretty quick read and fun, but something kept it form fully working for me. I think I wanted more. Still, entirely enjoyable. 1/18/12

Apr 18, 2012

Very enjoyable two day read. A sort of Hitchhiker's Guide meets John LeCarre.

"Our job is to assess threats to national security that we don’t know exist, using methods that we don’t know work. This produces results that we generally can’t recognize as results, and when we can recognize them as results, we don’t know how to interpret them." – Red Queen.

Exciting, hilarious, thought provoking.


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