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Slow River Paperback – August 20, 1996
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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
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Griffith's prose is wonderful and showcases a beauty of language seldom seen in science fiction. Her characterization is also near perfect. I won't spend time discussing the plot as that's been handled amply by the other reviewers, but I will echo one other person's thoughts: The storyline that has Lore working at a sewage plant is, surprisingly, every bit as engrossing as the ones that deal with her kidnapping and her high society upbringing. To me, that says a good deal about Griffith's talent as a writer.
As for the sex scenes, which some people describe as being nearly constant in the book, there are actually about four or five scenes taking up somewhere around ten pages of the book (not each, but in total). Additionally, they're not placed in the story without purpose.
Overall, an excellent book. Personally, I'm quite glad that it won a Nebula. It's certainly desereving.
Author Nicola Griffith leavens each section with vivid futuristic detail, and she is an evocative writer with a sharp eye for character. As a writer, her choice to switch between first and third person, past and present tense -- her biggest gamble -- is also her greatest failure, as the transition can sometimes be jarring. Other than that, her prose flows as smoothly and deeply as the river of the title.
Two of the three parts of Slow River -- the ones about street life and privileged life in the near future -- are above average examples of basic science fiction themes, most worth reading for Griffith's prose. The third, about Lore's employment at the extremely well-imagined purification facility, is more original. The atmosphere of low-grade tension inherent in the possibility that some malfunction there will cause an ecological catastrophe gives an element of suspense to Griffith's novel that keeps the reader turning pages.
Or, at least, it did me.Read more ›
This book captivated me on so many levels that I'm hard put to say what I like best about it. Griffith's prose, like the "slow river" she describes in the opening chapter, is smooth and languid on the surface, but has hidden depths that slowly rise as the story continues. The structure of the story is excellent; the use of different tenses and points of view (Lore is always the viewpoint character, but sometimes first-person, sometimes third-person) is smooth and never confusing. Griffith's plot construction is first rate, allowing the characters to breathe and grow.
The story itself is equally tantilizing. The glimpses we get of Lore's family are few, but telling; one senses that she is used to living a life of precision masked by glamour. When she loses these things, she loses her identity.
Griffith's use of symbolism is frequent but never heavy-handed or overstated; it would be easy for the PIDA (a type of personal ID), for example, to become just another tired cliche. The symbols merely serve to underline important things about the characters, who come to the forefront, each an individual.
In fact, it's hard for me to cite anything bad about this book. I suppose I could think of something if I tried, but Griffith has that rare knack of enveloping the reader in her story so completely that every time I read it, I forget about analyzing it and just sit back and enjoy the book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I will say this first -- once you decipher how Griffith's world works, the plot will not surprise you, and neither will the characters. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Briana Conly
Griffith is a poet with the heart of a victim who survives. This is a novel about intimate abuse, and it is gritty and close-up and provocative in its intense and lyrical flow. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Joe Boudreault
A little difficult to get into because of all the scientific, very technical stuff but otherwise really moving, even though some was not really credible to me.Published 5 months ago by Jacqueline Wolf
After her abduction, once-wealthy Lore is left with nothing but the questionable aid of a backstreet hacker named Spanner. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Juushika
OK I guess...once the author begins to advertise his/hers leanings......lost interest....Published 16 months ago by Jesus Riesco
This is one of those very rare science fiction books that I actually enjoyed (and yes, I love fantasy. If you think they are interchangeable, we need to talk). Read morePublished 18 months ago by E. Smiley
Nicola Griffith has created a world much like our own in Slow River. The people are complex and utterly human, the setting is very familiar but with all those things that seem like... Read morePublished on August 9, 2014 by Lindsey
Once again Griffith has me thinking so in depthly about the craziest things. I absolutely love her works. This story brings every genre I love together. Read morePublished on April 11, 2014 by Raven Henry
While I liked Griffith's first book a lot, in Slow River she's a master of her craft. The story echoes between the past and the present, adding layers of details to the main... Read morePublished on January 25, 2014 by Beth