Silver Wind, Strange Horizons…

Posted: October 29, 2011 by douglasthompson in Reviews

Nina Allan’s The Silver Wind has been reviewed in depth, not once but twice, over at the Strange Horizons website.
Nial Harrison writes:
“…I think this is a very fine little book… Partly I simply like its orneriness. The Silver Wind is quite determinedly idiosyncratic by the standards of contemporary sf, with a cast of tricky, often distant characters and a carefully engineered refusal of coherence. In each story, the same names recur, but the relationships between them are different — the same characters turn up as relatives, friends, lovers — and while these alternate universes build a shared context, they don’t build a straightforward narrative. Rather, as Tricia Sullivan puts it in her introduction, the stories haunt one another… But I don’t want to imply that it’s only a literary puzzle; there are some fine character portraits here, and a restrained observational Englishness that reminded me of some of Ian R MacLeod’s work. It’s more a prompt for exploration than anything to be solved…”

Then Sofia Samitar writes:

“…The Silver Wind as a whole is quite different from the sum of its parts. The first three stories were published previously, but they cannot have been read separately in the same way that they are read together, with their uncanny resonances. It would be like reading a single one of the twelve novels that make up Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time: you might enjoy the story, but without reading more of the books you wouldn’t understand Powell’s use of repetition, coincidence, and change. Allan uses these devices too, but instead of constructing a sweeping narrative in which all the pieces fit together, she presents pieces that can’t be put together at all—though their colors and shapes are designed to make you think that, just possibly, they can.
The result is a book about missed opportunities, broken connections, and loss. The music of Allan’s time is decidedly melancholy…
…”Rewind” is the first story in which a character named Miranda takes center stage, and she evokes sympathy as Martin did in the first story. The reanimated watch mirrors Miranda herself, whose monotonous and lonely life has just been transformed by her love affair with Martin. Partly because Miranda is new and not a repetition, this symbolism succeeds on both intellectual and emotional levels. It’s a moment of sheer optimism which seems, in the context of the book, particularly brave…”

Please check out the links above to read these detailed and insightful reviews in full and in context.

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