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Stations of the Tide Paperback – February 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this highly readable, futuristic detective novel, a bureaucrat/agent tracks a bush wizard who appears to be using a restricted brand of high technology to work his magic.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

As the planet Miranda slowly drowns under the weight of its own tides, a bureaucrat from the Division of Technology Transfer conducts an investigation into the life of a local celebrity, a "magician" who possesses proscribed technology and whose personal powers hold much of the dying planet in thrall. Swanwick ( Vacuum Flowers, LJ 2/15/87) demonstrates his mastery of understated drama in a novel that brings a surrealistic approach to "hard" sf. Recommended for medium to large libraries.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; First Edition edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765327910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765327918
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,064,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Jacob G Corbin on April 10, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I finished reading STATIONS OF THE TIDE last week; I would have written about it sooner, but it's taken me this long to process and digest my thoughts about the book into something approaching a coherent whole.
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.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on June 12, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
SF has never lacked for ideas, which is why it's such a good genre to read, because of that constant inventiveness. However, unless you like to read the equivilent of a physics thesis parade, most readers want a little more "meat" to their books, if not in terms of plot, at least definitely in charactization and layers of meaning. This book has that in spades. I've read once that it was based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest" which having not read that play I can't confirm but I am slightly familiar with some aspects of the play and I'd say it's a good bet. Nothing like some literary allusions to kick a good SF novel off, right? But it gets better, because this novel is heavy on the symbolism and the thinking stuff, though it never gets in the way of the interesting world and culture that Swanwick has developed. In a nutshell, a bureaucrat without a name comes to the world of Miranda to search for a man who barely appears, but apparently can do wonderful things. Why is that? Because he stole something he shouldn't. From there the novel jackknives wonderfully, as Swanwick unravels line after line of evocative prose that eloquently brings to life this water logged and doomed world, in all its grime and grandeur. By far the best part of reading this book is meeting the at first apparently bumbling bureaucrat and then slowly realize that not everything is what it seems and the man isn't so clueless after all.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gregory M. Flanders on June 26, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
_Stations of the Tide_ is, on the surface, a story about an intergalactic cop going forth to catch intergalactic criminal.
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.
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