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.