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Island in the Sea of Time Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1998
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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.
“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
“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
“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
Top customer reviews
This is one of those that like the Flux Capacitor you don't really ask how or why, you just go with it. The point is not why but what are the implications of such an "event". In some ways certain parts seem a little more like guys sitting around (who have a decent knowledge of history) and thinking...ok if we had no electricity what we do to make it...if we had to eat...how would we feed the many...if we needed weapons what would we need to make them. One of the tough parts to swallow is that it seems all the right people with all the right knowledge and skills just so happen to be on the tiny island and just the right (or wrong) time. On the tiny island we just so happen to a lot of blacksmiths and weapons experts, we just so happen to have a ship capable of crossing the Atlantic just inside the event, we just so happen to have an astronomer capable of reading the stars to tell us exactly when we are....and so on.
But with all that, for just a good yarn that you simply need to go with and let it come to you rather than try to dissect this is a good one. One thing that makes this stand out from typical "dystopian" fiction or even time travel fiction is that we have modern society smack in the middle of rather early times. When they talk of running out of spices, my first reaction is they need to get to the mainland and find some in an abandoned city (that is how you do it in dystopian fiction) or with other issues you think of trying to reach others (other civilizations) yet society is not particularly advanced in most areas. So even trying to trade is hampered by the limitations on access even when you do travel to new areas. Interesting concept and I look forward to reading the next two parts.
***Minor spoilers ahead***
I have only one substantive criticism: there was too little social turmoil in the immediate aftermath of the Event. The twentieth century Nantucketers acquiesced too easily to the sudden shift to hard, manual labor in a nearly preindustrial command economy. I suspect that Mr. Sterling was too fascinated with the technical aspects of this adaptation. There should, though, have been more rebellion and resistance by individualist, traumatized Americans to this process. Their leadership certainly could have led them through this successfully. Its absence in the days and weeks after the Event, though, was unrealistic.
The author made up for this with the social fights and cultural stresses described later in the novel, and I really liked the book. Mr. Sterling has a gift for this genre of SF. I recommend this novel.
This book has kicked off a three book series about the Nantucket folk and a huge and popular series associated with it but focused on the modern world and how the time travel event effected modern times.
Great characters, a brilliantly conceived and evolving society and a rollicking story make this book deserving of its tremendous success. We get our money's worth as readers too. The thing is 600 pages long.