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ISLAND IN THE SEA OF TIME BY (STIRLING, S. M.)[ROC]JAN-1900 Hardcover – 1 Mar 1998


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568656521
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568656526
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,885,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Ian Arnstein stepped off the ferry gangway and hefted his bags. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Dec 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I can't wait for a sequel! The book supposes that Nantucket Island is transported back into the 13th century, all alone except for a Coast Guard windjammer out on a training mission.
The island characters and Coast Guard are very detailed. Stirling has caught the laconic "Down-Easter" personality very well, reflecting his annual vacations to the Island. He also created a memorable female character in the CoastGuard Captain, Marian Alston, a "black, female, ex-ranker, Southern, lesbian" with a highly developed sense of duty and a wry (mostly internal) sense of humor. Luckily, stranded on the Island are some other very useful characters including a Professor of History who's also a science fiction fan and an astronomer who uses her computer and star charts to figure "when" they are.
Adjusting to the "Event" as they call it, isn't easy but the town sheriff starts getting them motivated to grow their own food and make plans for survival. The Islanders accidentally wipe out most of the proto-Indians in the Boston area with the common cold, journey to England to trade for grain and foil the invasion plans of some war-like immigrants from the mainland of Europe.
Stirling's bio lists his love of history, martial arts and other hobbies and he uses them extensively as background detail.
I hated to get to the end of this book. In fact, I turned back to the first page and started in again. Please, please tell me S. M. Stirling is going to continue the story!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. W. A. Silburn on 8 Aug 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, which is a real pager turner, and as someone with a long standing interest in anthropology, the history of technology and similar subjects the basic scenario punched all my buttons.
Where I felt it was weak was in the rather black and white portrayal of the characters. The good guys are unmistakeably good ( intelligent, omnicompetant, concerned etc etc) whilst the bad guys are either clueless patsies (Lisketter et al) or eeeeevil, self-centred, psychotics (Walker, Hong etc).
Now I recognise that to provide for some narrative conflict its helpful to have an identifiable baddie, but I think Stirling could have worked harder at providing some more shaded protagonists. The author could take some lessons from Kim Stanley Robinson on creating realistic, sympathetic characters whose conflicts arise out of differing value systems and philosophies - with neither side necessarily having a monopoly on intelligence or good will (or stupidity and selfishness for that matter)... As a left-leaning European (and thus probably most of the above in the eyes of a lot of Americans) I find Stirling rather small-c conservative. His sympathetic gay characters are a couple of lipstick lesbians rather than anything a bit more challenging to straight sensibilities for instance and he certainly has no truck with the sub-Rousseau 'noble savage' fantasies that underlie some 'PC' ideas concerning bronze and stone age life. I think the fact that most of the reviewers who express these opinions seem to admire the sociopathic Walker is a telling lifestyle detail however.
... The sex didn't seem particularly obtrusive to me... As for the violence, Stirling certainly doesn't pull his punches, but then melee combat to the death is an ugly, disgusting business and personally I find fiction that sugar coats violence more offensive than a clear-eyed treatment of the causes and consequences of violent conflict.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 July 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I simply could not put this book down (sorry boss)! S. M. Stirling's ongoing series--of Nantucket Yankees ingeniously evolving the future while "cast away" into the Bronze Age three thousand years past--is a fascinating twist on the "alternate futures" genre of science fiction. Island in the Sea of Time is a wonderfully realized story of a modern peoples' struggle to adjust and survive in a time of great dislocation and desperate adversity. Transporting an entire group of modern Americans back in time means Stirling can legitimately give them modern politically correct personalities, and most effectively contrast these with Bronze Age mores. Thus understanding our heroes' modern motivations is "simpler" than in the "Byzantine" Videssos Cycle of Harry Turtledove, Stirling's model. The characters are very well drawn and differentiated, nor are we stuck only with laconic New Englanders as this colony in time expands. Only one person is a caricature, a New Age Environmentalist "Nazi" who is set up for a very bad end. I had real empathy for the desperate straits of the Nantucket Islanders isolated from everything familiar, and for the tension and anxiety regarding survival as the dire implications of their limited supplies unfolds. The tight focus on a small group of (once-fellow) Americans is highly involving: my god, what would I do if totally totally cut off from the 20th century? As an archaeologist I found Stirling's fleshing out of bare Beaker and Wessex Culture artifacts (like Stonehenge) to be marvelous, if incidental, fun.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 April 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Very good time travel story, with an interesting device - an island community displaced in time, rather than a single person or small group. This allows for a complex plot, a number of well-developed characters, and interactions more profound than "civilized man amazes the savages with magic from the future." Stirling is a talented writer, and I expected strong work from him, but this exceeded my expectations. I have enjoyed rereading it and look forward to others in the series. The battle scenes are written well and logically integrated into the plot rather than disconnected demonstrations of military "genius" based on elementary understanding of military history(no offense to the authors whose books of that sort I have enjoyed as well). I strongly recommend this book to anyone who likes the Niven-Pournelle collaborations, or Pournelle's Sparta series.
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