The Mirage

The Mirage

Book - 2012 | 1st ed
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In the summer of 2009, Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi is plunged into a conspiracy involving Suddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee when a captured suicide bomber claims that the world in which they live is a mirage.
Publisher: New York : Harper, ©2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780061976230
Branch Call Number: x
Characteristics: 414 pages ; 22 cm


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SCL_Justin Jul 20, 2017

Matt Ruff’s alternate history novel The Mirage is about a world where the United Arabian States are the global superpower, America is a factionalized bunch of small countries with dysfunctional despots in charge (including LBJ in America and the Bush clan in Texas) and Israel is in Berlin, far from the Holy Land. The idea is that back on 11/9/2001 Rocky Mountain extremists flew planes into a couple of towers in Baghdad and the UAS launched a War on Terror. It’s an interesting world and a lot of the fun in reading the book comes from the exposition handled through pages from the Library of Alexandria, the user-driven encyclopedia.

Plot-wise we’re following a couple of Homeland Security cops from Baghdad who are investigating some Christian extremist attacks and come to think there’s another topsy-turvy world out there where America is the superpower. Senator Bin Laden wants something out of that other world, and is trying to use our hero cops to get it. The plot isn’t the point here except as a vehicle for the setting.

My main gripe with the book is that the characters seem a bit too willing to believe they’re in an unreal reality. Otherwise it’s a fun puzzle to read through as you see Lebanon as the UAS’ version of California, and Britain as the Iran-analogue. It feels different, less science fictional and more Tom Clancy/fantasy-ish than The Years of Rice and Salt, but they have a number of similarities. Good book and a light read.

Jul 11, 2012

I loved this book! Matt Ruff imagines complete worlds that just suck you in. The reverse perspective of this novel entranced me completely.

Jan 06, 2012

Taking an interesting perspective on the "war on terror," Matt Ruff turns the events of 9/11 on their head, setting The Mirage in the United Arab States, where the population is still struggling to deal with the aftereffects of a devastating 11/9/01 terrorist attack by Christian fundamentalists in hijacked jets. While the premise is intriguing, and several of the characters are memorable, the novel is ultimately dragged down by too many jokey parallels and references highlighting various real American political figures and situations. The constant name-dropping, paired with dozens of interspersed "entries" from The Library of Alexandria, a fictionalized Wikipedia, to provide background information, ultimately detract from the storytelling. While The Mirage is nowhere near as masterful as Sewer, Gas, Electric or Set This House in Order, Matt Ruff is still one of the most interesting novelists writing today, and I look forward to his next book.


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Jul 11, 2012

helenhag1217 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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Jul 11, 2012

What if the Arab world was a collection of civilized but contentious states, and the US was a collection o feuding fiefdoms and countries? What happens when the Christian terrorists fly planes into the twin towers in Bagdad? And what is the Mirage?


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