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Stations of the Tide Paperback – February 1, 2011
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Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book's plot feels like nothing so much as an SF take on Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS. Like that book, its protagonist is a nameless functionary (he is called simply "the bureaucrat" through the entire length of the novel) sent to a backwards hellhole (here, a decaying colony world) in search of a dangerous renegade. The world, called Miranda, has an erratic orbit that causes its ice caps to melt every couple of centuries and drown every inch of dry land; the native life has evolved to thrive under these conditions, but the human settlers have not. As the inept and corrupt local government tries to evacuate the populace in the last few weeks before the flood, the renegade - a man called Gregorian, who claims to be a wizard or magus - gains a following by offering to remake the Mirandans into amphibious creatures capable of surviving the deluge, for a price. The offworld authorities aren't sure if Gregorian is a simple fraud, murdering his followers for money, or if he's employing forbidden offworld technology; either way, he must be dealt with.
The book is difficult to get into at first, and part of this is because Swanwick respects our intelligence enough to throw us into the deep end right from the beginning. As with Mamet's movie Spartan, rather than giving us exposition, he expects us to follow along and patiently assemble the facts of the story by picking them up in context. Once we get over not having everything spoonfed to us, the sense of discovery as the text progresses is intoxicating.Read more ›
Thankfully, it goes much deeper than that.
Office politics, plantation society, magic, sex, and apocalypse all play primary roles in this compelling and challenging tale. The world on which the Bureaucrat (the unnamed protagonist) pursues Gregorian (the distant, subtly menacing, string-pulling antagonist) is in flux, preparing for the thousand-year flood that will immerse most of the land on the planet. The impending doom/rebirth of the world brings with it strange imagery: masquerade balls lit by furniture too heavy to move, or too cheap to bother with; a group of daughters watching their family fortunes crumble as their possessions become less and less able to finance the cost of moving them to safety, and the dying matriarch revels in their impending poverty; a fortress hidden, not by camouflage, but by centuries of studied neglect. The carnival atmosphere of the world in which the Bureaucrat gamely tries to find his quarry (for he knows he has been sent on a fool's errand) quickly turns sinister, and yet retains its lush, unearthly beauty.
The action, for the most part, happens at a distance, the book being more about discovery and ideas than anything else. The denouement is truly stunning, and will leave the reader thinking about it for a long time.
I highly recommend _Stations of the Tide_ to anyone tired with the usual science fiction. It is utterly magical, and totally unforgettable.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
excellent story and great Tech. As all Michael Swanwick's books are . Back to the book store for more! thanksPublished 4 months ago by Tom Hailand
Loved the vivid and highly textured world. The prose is beautifully written. Love the story. A British feel to it. Very imaginative sci-fi and love the surprise ending. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Eric R. Taylor
Started off great and then meandered into absurdity. I like some of the concepts and ideas he incorporates into his writing but at the same time too much is left unexplained. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Cody Jaffe
You'll have to read it at least twice.
This book won the Nebula award.
Michael Swanwick is no slouch.
I have recently been on a mission to sample unfamiliar science fiction authors, and for the past few months have come up disappointed or unsatisfied with novels... Read more
In this book "the bureaucrat" visits a planet that undergoes years-long seasons of flood that cover 90% of the land. Read morePublished on June 6, 2013 by Marsapalto
I thought this book was OK, but not as good as I thought it would be since it is an award winner. It was somewhat slow and never really brought me in like a great story does.Published on June 5, 2013 by Many Interests