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Song of Time [Paperback]

Ian MacLeod
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
Price: £5.37 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

1 Oct 2013
A man lies half-drowned on a Cornish beach at dawn in the furthest days of this century. The old woman who discovers him, once a famous concert violinist, is close to death herself... or a new kind of life she can barely contemplate. Does death still exist at all, or has it finally been obliterated? And who is this strange man she's found? Is he a figure returned from her past, a new messiah, or an empty vessel? Is he God, or the Devil?


Product details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Drugstore Indian Press; First DIP edition (1 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848636695
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848636699
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,271,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meditative, moving SF 7 Nov 2008
Format:Hardcover
*Synopsis*
Roushana is an aging violinist, dying of a degenerative disease in her cottage on the Cornish coast. She's preparing for the end by looking through her keepsakes, mentally arranging and reassessing the memories that they summon. Also, she just found a buff, naked, amnesiac dude on the beach and he's hanging out in her house, listening to her talk and play, and cooking her food.

*Review*
I know, it sounds bloody awful: the sort of tiresome novel that's all emotion and no action, beautifully told and cleverly constructed, no doubt, probably even symbolic in a somewhat nebulous fashion, but ultimately just a worthy fun-free mope towards the inevitable. Fortunately this one has a redeeming feature: the universally improving ingredient that is science fiction! Our heroine appears to have been born in about 2000 AD, she's survived a century of race riots, nuclear exchanges, killer diseases and environmental catastrophes, and she's now living in a world where dying need not be the last thing that you do. And yes, she's /also/ experienced love and loss, complicated relationships with friends and family, obsession, ecstasy and remorse. And it /is/ all meticulously put together, with vivid characterisation and evocative scene-setting. And while the framing device /does/ distance one from the action, the sense of melancholy inevitability that it imparts is entirely appropriate given the circumstances.

I'm given to understand that this is 'Literary SF', which I generally take to mean 'SF from which one could excise the SF elements without materially affecting the story'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read! 25 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the best books I've ever read. The only one I know that is better is Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. What makes it so beautiful is the deep humanity and emotional richness of the lead character Roushana. Her recollections of our future, events of the twenty first century, somewhat foreseable from today 2009, are spectacular for their realism and depth of feeling. Global warming underpins much of what unfolds. Not just extreme weather in Birmingham, floods in London, Venice disappearing under the waves, but also the impact of floods of refugees from Bangladesh and elsewhere are described as sea levels rise and monsoons fail. The nuclear war between India and Pakistan is so well described, in the international chaos that enues. The book dwells frequently on classical music and does it so well as a metaphore for the richness of the human experience. This is one of those rare books that really touches your heart. Read it!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Complex Song 5 Dec 2011
By Mike Fazey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Song of Time is essentially a future history of the 21st century told through the reminiscences of the protagonist, Roushana Maitland, a former concert violinist who is nearing the end of her 100 year life. I love speculative fiction, and Song of Time is certainly that, but it's also something more. The big picture social, political and environmental upheavals of the 21st century make a fascinating (and plausible) backdrop to the very personal issues that confront Roushana as she reflects on family, career, love, sexuality, loss and meaning - the stuff that shapes all our lives and that we laugh and cry and muse over, and never quite understand. As an acclaimed musician, she has certainly led an interesting and privileged life, but while her fame and fortune have in some ways insulated her from the ructions of the 21st century, they have not necessarily given her an easy life.

And then, there's the mysterious visitor who is washed up on the shore near her house with no memory of who he is or where he has come from - another fascinating dimension to this multi-faceted novel.

It's clear that, as her body fails, Roushana is considering making the transition to some form of non-corporeal existence. Neither the nature of this transition nor the technology that makes it possible are ever explained in the novel, and I quite liked that. Writers like Greg Egan and Robert J Sawyer have explored this territory before, so I don't think the novel lost anything by not providing more detail. Indeed, I think the absence of detail made the concept of transition darker, more mysterious, more frightening, which is how it must seem to Roushana.

Song of Time is an ambitious, serious novel within a framework of speculative fiction. I loved it. It deserves a much larger audience that it has had so far (the only edition published to date was limited to 500 copies), so I hope a paperback edition is on the cards in the not-too-distant future.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very intriguing and thoughtful book 12 July 2013
By Timothy Comeau - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The story of this novel wasn't all that complicated, but what struck me was the tone, which was very thoughtful and reminiscent. I liked the world-building to describe the 21st Century, and the way a lot of it was recounted as being incidental ... which is how we experience history in our lives. The main character is a classical musician, and I'm not sure how that world works, but I found it odd that Paris would be described as such a cultural centre during one of the decades of the 21st Century - it may be for classical musicians, I don't know. I nevertheless felt I was visiting a future time during different phases of the character's life.
5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Award Winner 1 May 2009
By Micaela Ayers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Song of Time by Ian R. MacLeod was named winner of the 2009 Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel at the award's official ceremony during the opening celebrations of this year's SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival.

"Set in a near-future England, Song of Time is a rich and subtle novel that couples themes of memory and identity with well crafted and all too human characters," said Paul Billinger, chair of the judges.

From "Shelf Awareness" May 1, 2009- [...]
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