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Shaman Hardcover – September 3, 2013
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"Intellectually engaged and intensely humane in a way SF rarely is, exuberantly speculative in a way only the best SF can be, this is the work of a writer at or approaching the top of his game."―Iain M. Banks on 2312
"Robinson's extraordinary completeness of vision results in a magnificently realized, meticulously detailed future in which social and biological changes keep pace with technological developments."―Publishers Weekly on 2312
" In his vibrant, often moving new novel, "2312," Robinson's extrapolation is hard-wired to a truly affecting personal love story. [...] Perhaps Robinson's finest novel, "2312" is a treasured gift to fans of passionate storytelling; readers will be with Swan and Wahram in the tunnel long after reaching the last page."―LA Times
"Robinson's expert world building and lyrical prose offer Jack London-esque pleasures as they depict the stark beauties of the icy landscape - it's desolation, dangers and the desperate choices it forces people to make when pushed to the edge of existence. Richly detailed."―Kirkus
"This novel bears the markings of Robinson's consummate skill with a sort of anthropological fiction...Spectacular world building."―Booklist
"A seriously composed and compelling novel about prehistoric life...some of the most intelligent entertainment you can find."―NPR Books
"A thrilling journey through an age of ice and stone - one of Kim Stanley Robinson's best!"―Greg Bear
"This book proves once again that Robinson's fascination with the human condition and mankind's journey transcends easy genre labels...Despite all his previous accolades, this may be Robinson's best work to date, focused so sharply as it is on the simplest way of being human."―Library Journal
"The novel is an amazing piece of recreation, vividly evoking the deprivations, animalistic beliefs and day-to-day struggles of a primitive tribe."―Financial Times (UK)
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this is easily the fastest moving, easiest to read, easiest to understand, book of his. it's also a very spiritual book, which shows us the very likely truth that early men/women had our same questions/awe/poetic explanations about the cosmos and its mysteries.
this story of cavemen creates people who become very real as we read about their daily lives/loves/concerns. although their time is very removed from ours, many of their fears/loves/pains/pleasures are basic to our species. the characters were movingly portrayed.
i was very touched by the scenes written here, showing the love, care, and emotional attachment we all (well, a lot of us) have for family and friends. that has not changed in all the millennia since, and might be our greatest strength as a species.
when i read about the cave paintings, i just got chills.....the words almost seemed to bring me right to those very moments in time, when early painters created their work using rudimentary tools, yet using their artistic/visual skills to replicate what they experienced, as they observed and hunted animals.
there is some beautiful poetry here, and some haunting portrayals. very highly recommended.
As they say, you could have fooled me. The start is allright, and then... Each chapter is the one before, chewed, swallowed, vomited, and swallowed again.
Top international reviews
First thing’s first, there were some minor irritations. Names for animals and objects were sometimes completely made up, with no explanation of what they were, and even Google failing to elucidate the matter – what is an “elg” anyway? Another really weird thing is that the author used dashes to indicate dialogue, not quotation marks, which made the difference between dialogue and narrative actually very confusing consistently throughout the book and was not a good technical choice at all. I was hoping that some of this would be clarified in an author’s note at the end elucidating certain authorial choices and discussing the historical evidence that inspired the story, but there wasn’t one.
So let me turn to the story. I was quite interested and engaged during the first section of the story, where Loon is sent out to wander the wilderness alone as some sort of coming of age rite. There was survival action aplenty, and because he was totally alone and the environs were against him, it made for pretty tense and gripping stuff. However, I felt that it lost steam after that. Loon and his pack go about their lives as normal, and whilst interesting from a background and setting point of view, I’m wondering when the plot will show up. Then, around the three-quarters mark, it does so. Okay, so I was pleased that the plot finally showed up, but I wasn’t exactly excited by it. The chase survival plot is very well-worn in the Stone Age fiction genre. Savage Eden did it, The Uprights did it, and much more high profile films Quest for Fire and 10,000 BC did it. I could have got on board with it, if I cared about the characters. But I didn’t. The secondary characters felt barely sketched to me, and as for Loon, I just had no sense of his struggles and his fears, his hopes and dreams, his relatable thoughts, to feel close to him in any way. I just didn’t feel compelled to root for him. I felt disappointingly detached the whole way through.
And that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the book. It wasn’t that it was bad – although there were a couple of irritating niggles – I just felt disengaged because there didn’t seem to be much of a plot for long stretches, and when it did show up it was a trope and one in which I had no real incentive to care about the characters. I just felt disconnected from most of the book.
We start off by following the initiation wander of our hero Loon, abandoned, naked, even without the basic means of survival, in the cold lands. We share the hardship, adventure and fears of this experience. We shiver and hunger and our hearts race in this alien yet familiar world. I fell in love with the book at this point. I felt it became a little episodic (still good but not enough meat there to get one's teeth into) after Loon returns to his tribe and continues his training as a Shaman under the hard but likeable Thorn, but what we really get is a series of snapshots setting the stage, showing us what normality looks like. We watch Loon fall in love with Elga at the eight eight meet and share in the excitement and stressful adventure that follows later. Robinson manages to evoke the cold, fear and hunger, the wonder, even, of a world that is as familiar to its denizens as our own, yet despite that familiarity remains dangerous - these people are living on the edge of hunger and starvation so much of the time. I loved this book because of the way it enabled me to enter that ancient past, to share a moment with our unknown ancestors and appreciate what giants they were.
Also the plot is interesting enough to want you to read on, you get involved. So this has my very highest recommendation!