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Spin Paperback – 3 May 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: TTA Press; First edition (3 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955368367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955368363
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 515,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Nina Allan's re-imagining of the Arachne myth, with its receding overlays of the modern and the antique, creates a space all its own. The scene is clean and minimal, the light Mediterranean, the story seems musing and sad: but by the last two pages, Spin has you in a grip that persists long after you put it down. --M. John Harrison

The writing is precise, the imagery vividly sensual; by re-imagining ancient myth in a stunningly realised alternate Greece, Nina Allan traps you in a web of story. --Paul Kincaid

Allan's prose is as adaptable as her juggling of SF and mythical materials: finely observed and realistic when it needs to be (as during the bus trip into the city), lyrical when it begins to focus on romance and self-discovery. There is, not surprisingly, a recurring pattern of spider imagery, but it's never intrusive enough to shout "metaphor" at the reader, and works well thematically with the related pattern of weaving imagery. It's an elegant, quiet, and quite satisfying fable. --Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

About the Author

Nina Allan was born in Whitechapel, London, grew up in the Midlands and West Sussex, and studied Russian literature at the University of Exeter and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. She wrote her first short story at the age of six. Recurring obsessions include old clocks and rare insects, forgotten manuscripts and abandoned houses. Nina's stories have appeared regularly in premier British speculative fiction magazines Interzone, Black Static and Crimewave, and have been selected for various Year's Best anthologies.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pablo Cheesecake (The Eloquent Page) TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 May 2013
Format: Paperback
As a fan of Greek mythology it's always of interest to see modern interpretations of the ancient myths. Spin is based loosely on the legend of Arachne and her defiance of Athena. Arachne boasted that her skill was greater than that of the goddess. She refused to acknowledge that her knowledge came, in part at least, from the gods. Taking the themes from this story Nina Allan has given this ancient tale a modern twist.

Layla Vargas is a normal girl who has grown up with just her father on the Greek coast. The one thing that sets her apart from all others is her ability as a weaver. Her talent to create vibrant, colourful images from the silk her father manufactures is so good that it has prompted a change. Layla is moving to the city, to start a new life, taking a chance to control her own destiny. Everything appears to be going perfectly but who exactly is the mysterious old woman that keeps cropping up when Layla least expects it?

On a deeper level this story explores the nature of what it means to be a creator, what it means to bring something new into the world. How does the creative process and that intangible spark of talent blend together to make something new. Does the act of creation come from within or is there some unknown power guiding us? Through Layla's work, we get glimpses of this as she turns her artistic vision into something tangible.

There is a nice open-ended quality to the final pages of Spin. You're left in little doubt that all you've witnessed is just the beginning of a much larger story.

At first glance, Spin may appear to be a straight fantasy novel, but Nina Allan has also blended in a few nice science fiction flourishes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Dent on 11 May 2013
Format: Paperback
Nina Allan's "Spin" is the second of TTA's new series of novellas -- the astute amongst you will remember that I also reviewed the first; "Eyepennies" by Mike O'Driscoll. "Spin" is set in a strange version of Greece, which seems recognisable, but strays in distinct ways into a fantastically strange world.

Layla, the daughter of dye magnate, leaves home to make her own life and find success as a weaver. But, with the death of her mother -- executed for "clairvoyancy" crimes -- hanging over her, she struggles to escape the uncomfortable touch of destiny.

There are layers of meaning hidden within this story -- hidden to a depth that I don't seriously believe that I have understood them all. One, on the very edge of my periphery, is a heavy influence of the classical myth of Arachne. But as I said, I know very little about that.

I did, however, still enjoy the story in its own rights.

Allan has created a palpable sense of location here. The prose drips with a hot Mediterranean sweat which gives the whole story a sense of slow and exotic weariness, a real palpable sense of both the weather and the lingering sense of oppression. Layla is very much a woman trapped; by her parentage, by the expectations of the people she meets, and by her own gift for embroidery.

So too the characters hum with a vitality of their own. Layla leads the charge, with an achingly sympathetic urge for freedom and independence -- ultimately the architect of a peculiar kind of arrogance which forms her downfall. But behind her is a rich and fascinating cast. Bit parts, mostly, but they all feel complete and whole. Like we are simply passing through their stories, and that greater of them remains untold -- but that is a different tale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sean P Chatterton on 12 May 2013
Format: Paperback
The story is about Layla, a gifted young lady with a troubled past. She is a weaver who has a gift, like her mother before her. She leaves her father and the coast to make a life for herself in the big city. There she meets Nasha Crewe who wants her to change the fate of her son, Alcander. She says that she does not have the power to do so, but after meeting Alcander, she weaves...

Set in an alternate Greece, this is a re-imagining of the Arachne myth. Nina Allan draws upon her own experiences of the hot Mediterranean country, and its rich history. Her descriptions of the places, people and culture don't so much as draw you in, but involve you. You are there with Layla experiencing the sights and sounds of Corinth and its suburbs.

I started to read this one evening, with the intentions of reading through the book over the next few days. I sat and read it through in one sitting. I was completely drawn in to the flawless literary prose. This is one of those books that you not so much as can't put down, as you don't realise you haven't put it down until it is finished.

Now I am not normally a fan of alternate histories, nor am I classically read, but neither of these stopped me from enjoying this novella immensely. I can't recommend this book enough.

I would also suggest you read Nina Allan's 'Story behind Spin' for more about this story.

Sean P Chatterton
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Format: Paperback
I became aware of Nina Allan by reading one of her short stories, Bellony, in the Blind Swimmer anthology (Eibonvale Press, 2010). Then I had a chance to read The Silver Wind (Eibonvale Press, 2011), which was a fascinating short story collection. I was very impressed by her writing, because her stories were good, so I'm glad that I had a chance to read and review Spin, which is without a doubt one of this year's best novellas.

The author has created an alternate and futuristic Mediterranean world. She blends fantasy with science fiction and mythology in an entertaining way to create a new and modern reimagining of the Arachne myth. Her version of the Arachne myth is genuinely fascinating and will be of interest to several readers who enjoy reading good and well constructed stories.

Here's a few words about the story: The protagonist is Layla Vargas, who makes panoramas and tapestries. Nashe Crawe asks Layla to help her son, Alcander, but Layla says that she can't heal him...

Layla is an interesting character, because the author writes fluently about all aspects of her life. Her transformation is the core of the story, because she has a gift and she has to accept who she is. It was interesting to read about her inner struggle with her gift.

There are wonderful scenes in this novella. The scenes with Alcander are written beautifully and touchingly. It was fascinating to read about Alcander's disease, because it made him look different. The scenes with the old woman, Thanick Acampos, were also well written.

Nina Allan writes good prose and easily captures the heart of the reader with her descriptions about the places and people. She is a talented author who clearly has a vivid imagination.
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