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Slow River Paperback – August 20, 1996
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Slow River won both the Nebula Award and the Lambda Literary Award for author Nicola Griffith. The book's near-future setting and devices place it firmly on the science fiction shelves, and the characters' matter-of-fact sexuality further label it as lesbian SF. But make no mistake, Slow River is no subgenre throwaway. Griffith's skill at weaving temporal threads through the plot bring protagonist Lore van de Oest to tragic life, and you will genuinely care about her in the end.
Born into a bioengineering family made wealthy by cleaning up after humanity, Lore leads a life of privilege and power. Riches don't bring happiness, though, and the van de Oest family hides its share of dark secrets. Lore is kidnapped, but escapes from her captors when she realizes her family isn't going to pay the ransom. Naked, alone, and wounded, she is saved by the brutally street-smart Spanner, who teaches Lore to survive by exploiting the Net (and human) weaknesses. To learn to trust, though, Lore must face her demons, one by one, until she can begin again.
Griffith's biotech-science details are accurate, and she fits them smoothly into the story in the manner of a cyberpunk master. This novel's real strength is its characters, though. The van de Oest family, Spanner, even characters who appear only briefly, are all distinct and consistent--not to mention very human. Lore herself seems so personal that Griffith's note about the story's disturbing aspects not being autobiographical was probably wise. Slow River is more than good enough to transcend genre and appeal to both queer SF readers and a more broad audience looking for an excellent character-driven SF story. --Therese Littleton
From Publishers Weekly
Set in a dystopian future, Griffith's second novel involves a woman's search for identity.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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While I think this book is well-written, I could not get into it. This may be because there are two timelines interspersed with each other. One timeline follows the main character, Lore, as a child growing up gradually in the story until she reaches the point where she is the age of the older version of her at the beginning of the book. The child Lore is written in third person and the older Lore is written in first person. I suppose this is to make it easier for the reader to kept track of who they are reading about. The child perspective leads up to the moment the book starts with Lore throwing herself, naked, out of the back of a moving van. The moment after this is where the adult Lore begins--remeber, these two perspectives are interspersed. The mystery seems to be how did the adult Lore end up jumping out of the van? What led her to that point? And how will the adult Lore solve the problems confronting her for reasons that the reader does not know.
Aside from the fact that I did not like this two perspective approach, although I have to admit it is novel, there are two other big flaws in the book: the ending makes no real sense and more-or-less comes out of thin air, the novel could easily have been written without any science fiction elements at all. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of technical sounding stuff, but this story could be told in virtually any time period. The science stuff seemed an affectation.
Oh, and there is a lot of explicit lesbian sex. Not that I mind sex in a book, but this was a bit over-the-top, almost pornography.
It took me a long time to read this because I did not feel compelled to find out what happens to the characters.
I won't go into the plot. Let me just say as a straight male reader, I recommend this for all audiences as an example of a story that will grab your attention where the fact the protagonist is a lesbian is of secondary import. In fact, the word lesbian never appears in the book.
This is the second book she wrote.
It's sort of science fiction but just a wee bit.
I thought it was a creative story. I haven't read anything else like it. Kidnapping, science fiction, lesbian steamy bits, and sewage and water treatment. Not necessarily in that order.
It's interesting to read sci-fi when some of it's come to pass into just science.