The publishers of Salt
, the debut SF novel by a British author, compare it to Frank Herbert's Dune
--and certainly the harsh beauty of the planet Salt makes arid Dune seem cosy and lush. Here are great deadly deserts of salt-crystal dunes, "seas" that are supersaturated lakes scummed over with hard salt, free chlorine in the air, inedible salt algae, a corrosive wind called the Devil's Whisper and a sleet of cancer-spawning radiation from the sky ...
Ill-assorted groups of Earth colonists were lured across space by misleading survey reports--or did Salt change during the long voyage? They build their makeshift cities around the salt lakes, struggling to tame this dreadful world. Unfortunately two of the settlements are desperately incompatible, hardly able even to communicate. Senaar city has a rigid, disciplined hierarchy with every person in their place, ordered like atoms in crystalline salt; Als is a leaderless anarchy where anyone might tackle any job, all as fluid as seawater. (Yes, Roberts loves salty metaphors.)
The viewpoint alternates between Petja of Als and Senaar's leader, Barlei, whose non-communication escalates into a war for which Senaar has been prepared all along--although Barlei has hypocritical justifications for everything, including oppression of his own people and Orwellian rewriting of history. Meanwhile, against all his Alsist principles, the gentler, poetic Petja hardens into a charismatic terrorist leader. Their entwined stories are grim, sad and bitter as salt. (Roberts does sometimes overdo the metaphors.) Salt is a skilful, intense, gloomy novel. --David Langford
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
Fantastic reviews for this Clarke Award nominated title
'SALT is a tremendous novel that I unreservedly recommend. It is certainly one of the best that I have read this year and Roberts joins my personal list of essential authors, i.e. authors whose books one tries to read as they come out. SALT is a well written, provocative novel that comes without any neat resolution, let alone a happy ending. It is a tremendous achievement and Adam Roberts is certainly a writer to look out for in the future.' VECTOR (The critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association)
'This is a well-crafted novel, written in an assured manner. This tale could easily have been a cliché populated with stereotypical character ciphers, instead of which we have an engrossing tale with no clear-cut implications of who is right and who is wrong. It is not hard to see why Adam Roberts has been nominated for this year's Arthur C Clarke award.' JOE GORDON, Waterstone's Edinburgh.
SALT has been shortlisted for the 2001 Arthur C. Clarke award for the best SF novel published in the UK. This is a great achievement in itself, all the more remarkable given that it is a first novel.
SALT was listed in the First Novel category in LOCUS magazine's list of Recommended Reads from the year 2000
'A strong SF novel somewhat in the same vein as Frank Herbert's DUNE. SALT is a bitter, sometimes grim, and occasionally bleakly humorous novel. It is also accomplished, engaging and fascinating. Most of the SF novels to come out of Britain this year have been sprawling affairs; SALT on the other hand is tightly focussed, tautly plotted and marks Roberts as a writer to watch' LOCUS
'Salt, both in its ambition and execution, invites comparison to other SF novels of high stature. The Dispossessed has already been mentioned as a philosophical precedent. In addition, the almost lifeless salt desert recalls that other desert planet, Arrakis. And in its theme of humans carrying their sins with them wherever they go, Salt brings to mind Frederik Pohl's masterpiece of pessimism, Jem. Let there be no doubt, however, that Salt is a novel that succeeds on its own terms. Roberts' prose carries the weight of a serious theme, but never becomes bombastic or portentous itself. This is the work of a writer who has already found his voice, and has something meaningful to say. With Salt, Adam Roberts has produced the finest first novel to grace the field of science fiction in many years.' SFSite
'His evocation of Salt's bleak landscapes is elegant and evocative, and his narrative is knotty and sophisticated. Neither side is blameless; the moral shading is subtler than blunt schematic didactisim; the tragedy all the deeper. SALT is a strong debut, and an affecting, effective novel.' PAUL McAULEY, Interzone
'Oh-no - not another debut SF novel. But fear not, Adam Roberts' brilliantly written tale of the colonisation of the planet Salt has all the hallmarks of a writer with many years experience.' Barry Forshaw, STARLOG
'The power of SALT quietly creeps up on you, making a convincing and powerful debut' SFX
'Doris Lessing and Iain Banks collaborate to rewrite The Dispossessed, and do a better job of it than anyone might reasonably hope! OK, so it's not exactly a blockbuster by-line but, please, trust me on this one Salt is a moving, intelligent and great book. If you enjoy the political edge of Banks' books and the demands of Doris Lessing's then you'll love Salt. If you enjoy intelligent sf that'll make you laugh and sigh then you'll love Salt. Whatever, you'll love Salt.' INFINITY PLUS
A fascinating concept, deftly executed. Adam Roberts has got what it takes' Peter F. Hamilton