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Island in the Sea of Time Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1998

229 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A cosmic disturbance transports the island of Nantucket and its inhabitants over three thousand years back in time to the shores of a Stone Age America. In addition to coping with the day-to-day problems of survival and the trauma of losing all connection with the modern world, the residents of the time-stranded island find their lives complicated by the presence of native tribes across the water. Stirling's (The Ship Avenged, Baen, 1997) imaginative foray into time travel should also please fans of alternate history. A good selection for most sf collections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“A perfectly splendid story…endlessly fascinating…solidly convincing.”—Paul Anderson


“A compelling cast of characters…a fine job of conveying both a sense of loss and hope.”—Science Fiction Chronicle


“[Q]ite a good book…definitely a winner.”—Aboriginal Science Fiction


“Meticulous, imaginative….Logical, inventive and full of richly imagined characters, this is Stirling’s most deeply realized book yet.”—Susan Shwartz, author of The Grail of Hearts


“Utterly engaging. This is unquestionably Steve Stirling’s best work to date, a page-turner that is certain to win the author legions of new readers and fans.”—George R. R. Martin, author of A Game of Thrones


“One of the best time travel/alternative history stories I’ve ever read, period. Stirling combines complex, believable characters, meticulous research, and a fascinating setup to produce a book you won’t want to—and won’t be able to—put down. An outstanding piece of work.”—Harry Turtledove


“The adventure that unfolds, powered by Stirling’s impressive stores of knowledge and extraordinary narrative skill, is an enormously entertaining read.”—Virtual North Woods Website



Browse more selections from author Neal Stephenson.

Product Details

  • Series: Island (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Roc; Reprint edition (March 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451456750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451456755
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a writer by trade, born in France but Canadian by origin and American by naturalization, living in New Mexico at present. My hobbies are mostly related to the craft -- I love history, anthropology and archaeology, and am interested in the sciences. The martial arts are my main physical hobby.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 124 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 22, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Don't let some of the reviews fool you--this book is not at all a politically correct screed. I have always really loved alternative history/time travel books, and have read tons over the years. This one is definitely among the top few, and my 5 star rating is a rare honest 5 star rating.
All the fun stuff--the anachronisms, the brilliant re-creation of modern technology in an ancient era, changing the course of history--are all here and done extremely well. With this book, Stirling has upped the ante for the entire genre. For example, merely shooting a "thunderstick" does not send the natives fleeing in terror. Stirling demands far more cleverness from his characters.
As for the complaints about the supposed political correctness, come on already! Every author imposes a point of view. I heartily disagreed with Stirling on some points, but he didn't lecture me, and it didn't detract from the story. It was far less clumbsy than say, Turtledove's Guns of the South (a favorite nonetheless), where he inexplicably has a female pretend to be a man so she can enlist in the Confederate army. You know what? There actually are some really ridiculously PC characters in this book, but they are portrayed as utter fools and losers.
I guess if you can't deal with a strong, positive lesbian main character, then stay away. But honestly, she is not used as a device to lecture the reader on how great lesbianism is. I am very quick to roll my eyes at such nonsense and never felt the urge to do so.
If you love this type of story, you have to read this book. A new classic of the genre.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Jedidiah Carosaari VINE VOICE on September 10, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Engrossing and fun to read. Stirling's style puts you in the story with the characters, as if this were truly happening. There are a number of alternative history/time-travel stories out there in which there is a lot of fighting, a lot of action and adventure, a lot of moments of surprise at the new people's amazing technology. But they take little advantage of the opportunity to explore new cultures and the clashes of people groups. Such is no the case with Stirling. He has long segments where he focuses on nothing but anthropology- and how to learn languages, and cultures, and respect of people groups, and the interactions of subcultures within Nantucket Island . . . This is what makes interesting reading. People that we can relate to, people that we want to be with, if we were to be thrown back 3000 years in time. Stirling seems to have copiously researched his cultures, time periods, and technology, in order to make everything appear as realistic as possible.

Stirling well balances out the need for the good guys to succeed with the need for drama, risk, and tragedy. It is not a morose book with no hope; it is not a surface book with no hope for despair. It is a very good read.

A bit less recommendable than it would be otherwise do to a number of rather strange, highly aberrant gratuitous sex scenes.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By goodoldmac on April 13, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Imagine a group of 20th century people suddenly transported to the bronze age, c.1250 B.C. That is the premise behind this book. The "moderns" are the inhabitants of the island of Nantucket, some 7000 of them and they are now forced to deal with the diffcultly of adapting to totally alien life style, not to mention avoiding starvation... Some of the other reviewers of this book have mentioned Stirling's liberal viewpoint, and I admit having as a main character a gay black woman was a bit of a jolt, and the concept of the island just "happening to have" people with nessary skills seems a bit far-fetched, but these are no more than ripples in a sea of smooth flowing narrative. I would have personally prefered to have seen more about the "Nantucketers" struggle to adapt to their new world rather than jumping into the actions of renagde William Walker, but I am aware that that would have slowed the book more...Now that all three books in the series are available I can say this is one of the masterpieces of the alternative history genre, from first to last....
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By watzizname VINE VOICE on October 23, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book on the strength of several customer reviews of Eric Flint's 1632 which cited it as better (some said much better) than 1632. After reading it, I disagree, but I am not at all sorry I read it. ISLAND is a very enjoyable book, with great deal to recommend it, and I am looking forward to reading its two sequels, Against the Tide of Years and On the Oceans of Eternity.

The average review gives ISLAND 4.0545 stars and 1632 4.0177; not a significant difference. Poor characterization is a leading complaint against both Eric and Steve, with many saying the other does much better. Come on, folks, these are plot-centered stories, not novels of manners. If you want the latter, read Jane Austen. There are also complaints about Marian Alston being a Lesbian. I count it as one of the strengths of ISLAND that Steve Stirling managed, without being preachy, to present her as a likable human being very worthy of respect, rather than as a stereotyped charicature. Another strength is that he makes it clear that the 1250 B.C.E. natives, while necessarily ignorant of later developments, were not necessarily stupid.

Despite the usual disclaimer that "any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, . . . is entirely coincidental." one wonders about the striking resemblance between the William Walker of ISLAND and the American adventurer William Walker (1824-1860).
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