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4.0 out of 5 stars The man who fell to Ishemuir
This is a cracking science fiction adventure, intelligent, pacey and imaginative.

It fuses genres well. Much sci-fi has borrowed from the Western genre, and this is no exception, as our heroes are pursued in a headlong chase by a vengeful posse. The planet Ishemuir, that the space-wrecked hero Karl Allman planet falls to, is a well realised world with its own...
Published on 8 Feb 2010 by Adam

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Was Only A Winter's Day
Science Fiction is probably the best genre for an author looking to write something on a large scale. Colin Harvey does this with `Winter's Song', a story about an enhanced human whose spaceship crash lands on a snowbound planet inhabited by a people who were abandoned centuries earlier. There are many really good ideas in the book that are executed well. The idea of...
Published on 15 Feb 2010 by Sam Tyler


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Was Only A Winter's Day, 15 Feb 2010
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This review is from: Winter Song (Paperback)
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Science Fiction is probably the best genre for an author looking to write something on a large scale. Colin Harvey does this with `Winter's Song', a story about an enhanced human whose spaceship crash lands on a snowbound planet inhabited by a people who were abandoned centuries earlier. There are many really good ideas in the book that are executed well. The idea of Karl, the enhanced man, who has the ability to heal himself, but is also being ran by an AI. I also liked the community on Isheimur which has some rundown futuristic machinery, but mostly they have reverted back to the times of the Vikings on Earth. Throw in some alien beasts and another race of potential sentient beings and there is a lot going on to enjoy.

However, there are a few areas that prevent the book from being a must read. Although the characters and world are well realised the story itself falls a little short. The central narrative is a little bland and seemingly repeats itself a couple of times. There is also too many characters who change their attitudes in seconds to make them believable. Despite these issues, they are minor as the book remains fast paced and interesting for the most part. That is until the final section where Harvey loses his way and the writing gets a little confused. I felt that the conclusive part of the book was very flat and took away from some of the excellent work produced earlier on. This is still a book worth reading for science fiction fans, but not the classic it could have been.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable sci-fi romp. Not perfect but entertaining, 31 Jan 2010
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Song (Paperback)
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When it became obvious that most of the action of Winter Song was going to be planet-bound, set among a devolving colony that had regressed back to peasant culture, I kinda cringed. I enjoy sci-fi with spaceships and Minds, aliens and unknowable Intelligences, super-evolved humans and creative 'what if?' scenarios. There seems to be a lot of this going on in the deep background to Winter Song -- it's all hinted at -- but the action is grounded on an isolated planet among Icelandic settlers who are fast losing their tech. So far, so ho-hum...
But the plot really picks up after the establishing chapters, so I found myself enjoying this book despite my initial misgivings. It reminds me very much of CJ Cherryh's Gate series, where the pivotal characters spend much of the time trekking across a strange land, becoming acquainted as they do and revealing a subtle sub-plot along the way. The core of this novel is pretty entertaining, especially as the planet's history is untangled and the mystery around the hero's weird behaviour is explained.
The ending is somewhat rushed, however (shame, cos that's the bit with the spaceship in it!). The writing / editing isn't ideal, either; bits of repeated text and phrases and occasional lapses into near-English. There are no new concepts in this novel, and it's not 'rock hard' in ny respect despite what the blurb says. There's barely any science in it at all, and not a great deal of speculation beyond the comfortable futures we're all familiar with.

So this is nothing like the high quality sci-fi of Iain M Banks, Alastair Reynolds or Richard Morgan; nor as jolly ripping as David Gunn or Justina Robson. But it was good enough that I'd look out for more from this author.
7/10
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4.0 out of 5 stars The man who fell to Ishemuir, 8 Feb 2010
By 
Adam "Say something about yourself!" (Dunton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Song (Paperback)
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This is a cracking science fiction adventure, intelligent, pacey and imaginative.

It fuses genres well. Much sci-fi has borrowed from the Western genre, and this is no exception, as our heroes are pursued in a headlong chase by a vengeful posse. The planet Ishemuir, that the space-wrecked hero Karl Allman planet falls to, is a well realised world with its own convincing societies, history, climate, flora and fauna. The wildlife is particularly imaginative, including Pelican like birds that feed on the blood of their hosts foot in a strange symbiotic relationship, acid spitting birds, fire breathing flying snakes and docile sheep-like 'rock eaters' to name but a few. Then there are 'trolls,' hair covered 'savages' with a tragic history that forms a real narrative and thematic development on adapted societies and cyclical mutual violence later in the book.

The novel starts with its hero freefalling to this world with only his resident nanobots and an unfinished 'download' from his sentient ship. The nanobots and download both open up part of wider backdrop to the story, that of a future human race split into factions by its relationships with machines. Some have embraced nano technology to become near cyborg, others go to another puritanical extreme end want to live a pure flesh and blood only existence. And there's a spectrum in between, with Karl somewhere in the middle. His 'download' later christened 'Loki' by the planets inhabitants begins as a flailing gibbering alter ego vying for control of Karl against Karl's own consciousness and evolves into, in one of the most unusual character progressions I've ever read, a sentient and sympathetic character.

The other major factionalism in this future is between 'Pantropists' who adapt to the worlds they conquer by blending in and 'Terraformers' who are Hell bent on shaping any world to humankind's image. But the novel is not a massive space opera that draws all this in detail; rather it's a focused adventure that draws on all this as and when needed. Good writing shows integrity between the story and its background fictional universe, and this writer has I think succeeded in this.

The portrayal of a society in regression is convincing and gripping. Ishemuir has regressed through neglect to a society that embraces the ways of ancient Iceland, a patriarchal society that draws on Norse mythology. The patriarch who finds Karl, Ragnar, is near psychotic in his paranoia, brutal, and yet all too human. He is a compelling character and the narrative really comes to life when he's around.
Ragnar imprisons Karl out of fear and suspicion, but Karl escapes with Ragnar's alienated step daughter Bera to find the crashed ship the 'Winter Song' from which he hopes to send a message for rescue home. And from there, the chase is on.

The last quarter of the book is not as convincing and as taut as the rest but by no means a letdown, and the book is ultimately satisfying. Watch out, though, for a very ill advised zero gravity sex scene. It's a hoot. Like they say, don't try this at home....

'Winter Song' will be appreciated by adolescents of all ages. It's fun, and it's got brawn and brains. Enjoy.
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1.0 out of 5 stars WINTER SONG., 17 Oct 2014
Whilst not a big reader of sci-fi novels I nevertheless do indulge every now and then and admit to being curious about this one given that I'd heard the planet on which our protagonist finds himself has similarities with a Viking settlement.

Perhaps more for those who enjoy their books full of 'world building' of which the author does a fairly decent job. For those readers who, like myself, are into characters, well, let's just say I found this element of the book somewhat .... unadventurous? The fact that the author spent so much time driving home certain ideas (women as little more than baby-factories, Bera, an unwed mother, a slut, the grim conditions in which Karl found himself and so on) mundane. And as for the dialogue? Awkward, amateurish and unconvincing to say the least.

Still, interesting in that as far as this genre goes I'm used to reading of planets and societies far advanced to our own and in this Winter Song is quite different. Whilst the starship from which Karl ejects is obviously technologically superior, Karl himself biologically and technologically enhanced, the planet, indeed not without its similarities to Viking society albeit with a bit of a space-age twist, on which he finds himself can scarcely be described as such.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, if unexceptional sci-fi, 5 Mar 2010
This review is from: Winter Song (Paperback)
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When Karl Allman's ship is destroyed, he finds himself stranded on a desolate world, Isheimur. An abandoned terraforming project, the planet is home to the descendants of Icelandic settlers, as well as any number of venomous, dangerous and generally unpleasant creatures, but are they all as they seem?

For the most part, thoroughly enjoyed the part of the story that takes place on the planet. The narrative is paced nicely and the depiction of a society in decline, losing their connection with the techology that allowed them to colonise the world in the first place is well done. The characters are also, generally speaking, well constructed, in particular I liked the depiction of the struggle for dominance between Allman and his alter ego, Loki. The character of Ragnar, the Gothi (leader) of the community that Allman finds himself in is also quite compelling - harsh and brutal, yet feeling the need to justify his actions in terms of protecting his fragile community.

I wasn't so keen on the final part of the book that takes place on board the eponymous vessel "Winter Song" which just bored me rigid - a shame really then that this sequence went on for about 100 pages, or so.

Overall, nice story that starts well but is ultimately let down by a rather rambling and drawn-out final sequence.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Degrades into far-fetched silliness, 19 Mar 2010
By 
A. Gothorp - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Song (Paperback)
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One thing I always hope for when I read sci-fi and fantasy is a book that can stand on it's own and doesn't end in mid-stride for the purposes of forcing you to buy the inevitable sequel. Although there is no indication that this is first in a series, I strongly suspect from the unsatisfactory and disappointing ending that the option has been left open for a string of sequels.
My suspicions are also aroused by the plot dead ends involving shapeshifters and mysterious Ayes - what are these all about? - we are never told.
This was a shame because the characterisation was strong and the story setting interesting. Harvey did not go into huge space opera like scope, but instead kept the story compact and personal which I liked a lot. The start was good, and the forced journey across the winter planet was especially well written and involving to begin with. There were only two main threads to the story, so Harvey did not over complicate things with a plethora of characters.
However, it goes badly wrong towards the end. Harvey didn't seem to know how to finish things, the character interaction became very false based on their previous actions, and the plot degraded into far-fetched silliness.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Character driven, intelligent and thoughtful sci-fi, 29 Sep 2009
By 
Mark Chitty (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Song (Paperback)
Winter Song is another title in the strong list Angry Robot Books has released since it's inception earlier this year. The new imprint has had good reviews for its titles and when I saw this one coming up for an October release I was very interested - any sci-fi set in a future where humanity has expanded across the galaxy is something I want to hear more about. Winter Song was not quite what I expected, but it delivered an entertaining read in an unforgiving environment.

Following Karl Allman as he crash lands on a forgotten and primitive colony world where the terraforming looks like it's going backwards, Winter Song is a novel that has more than a few surprises up its sleeve. I was expecting to walk into this with a more typical human vs alien world theme where there were many strange and wonderful creatures. What I got was a story focused on human characters that developed and grew with each situation they face.

Isheimur is a cold planet whose colony was set up with Icelandic heritage, and with strong willed characters in the leadership roles within the village, Karl finds himself in a difficult and frustrating situation. Ragnar, the village leader, believes in a harsh rule. He is not an unfair person, but with stores low and an extra pair of hands needed, he forces Karl to stay and help the village. Bera, a young woman in the village, is unpopular due to an unwed pregnancy. What is worse is the fact that she won't reveal the father to Ragnar. For this she is treated with little courtesy and often outright scorn. So when Karl arrives, half starved and in need of help, Bera is tasked with his treatment, leading to a friendship and quest to find the mysterious Winter Song, a relic of a long forgotten seed ship.

Winter Song is very much a look at what a culture will revert to if needed. It gives a very in depth look at the relationships between the main characters, the control a leader such as Ragnar has over his village and how a new and completely different personality fits into an established way of life. I very much enjoyed the character building in Winter Song and though that Colin Harvey did a great job at making the characters relatable and interesting, allowing the story to be carried on their shoulders quite easily and showing that communication can be very important.

Winter Song has some surprising and compelling twists, turns and events. From the start where we see a fully fledged sci-fi starship crash through to the unforgiving environment of Isheimur, Colin Harvey gives the reader a good, solid story. His characters are enjoyable to read, the setting is interesting in its own right and raises many questions, and the story is well developed and told in such a way that you want to read on, the pages turning all too easily. Whether or not we will return to this universe is another question - the ending certainly leaves the option available, although I happy it finished as it did.

If you enjoy a character driven, intelligent and thoughtful novel then Winter Song is one you should be picking up. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable sci-fi romp, 19 Nov 2012
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Song (Kindle Edition)
When it became obvious that most of the action of Winter Song was going to be planet-bound, set among a devolving colony that had regressed back to peasant culture, I kinda cringed. I enjoy sci-fi with spaceships and Minds, aliens and unknowable Intelligences, super-evolved humans and creative 'what if?' scenarios. There seems to be a lot of this going on in the deep background to Winter Song -- it's all hinted at -- but the action is grounded on an isolated planet among Icelandic settlers who are fast losing their tech. So far, so ho-hum...
But the plot really picks up after the establishing chapters, so I found myself enjoying this book despite my initial misgivings. It reminds me very much of CJ Cherryh's Gate series, where the pivotal characters spend much of the time trekking across a strange land, becoming acquainted as they do and revealing a subtle sub-plot along the way. The core of this novel is pretty entertaining, especially as the planet's history is untangled and the mystery around the hero's weird behaviour is explained.
The ending is somewhat rushed, however (shame, cos that's the bit with the spaceship in it!). The writing / editing isn't ideal, either; bits of repeated text and phrases and occasional lapses into near-English. There are no new concepts in this novel, and it's not 'rock hard' in ny respect despite what the blurb says. There's barely any science in it at all, and not a great deal of speculation beyond the comfortable futures we're all familiar with.

So this is nothing like the high quality sci-fi of Iain M Banks, Alastair Reynolds or Richard Morgan; nor as jolly ripping as David Gunn or Justina Robson. But it was good enough that I'd look out for more from this author.
7/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Formulaic and derivative, uninspiring, 24 Jan 2010
By 
R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Song (Paperback)
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Winter Song is derivative and written to a formula rather than from any form of original inspiration. A stock plot, populated with predictable characters, is carefully dressed up with some random violence and gratuitous sex, leaving one with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

The hero has his ship shot out from around him and is dumped on an icy world where he has to survive against the odds, but too many convenient last-minute easy-outs are introduced to help him on his way. The SF is sloppy and weak and no attempt is made to make it seem convincing, it is more like Fantasy. In the bad old 'pulp' days of the thirties and forties it might have passed, but even then the better editors like Campbell or Gold would have made the author work harder for his salt.

The essence of good Science Fiction is to take a 'What If?' or two and develop them in a convincing way to produce an intriguing and novel story, one that entertains and informs and broadens the mind, something that stays with the reader for years to come. Witness authors like Foster, Heinlein, Anderson, Dick, Niven, McCaffery et al, all of whom have produced much better cold-world stories. Sadly, it seems to me that Colin Harvey is a talented commercial writer fulfilling a publisher's calculated brief, instead of a genuine SF author brimming with original ideas to excite our minds.

It may well appeal to teenagers and the less sophisticated, but it is unlikely to be treasured and read again. Hence only three stars for being average fodder.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Norse Opera (in space), 12 Mar 2010
By 
Amazon Customer "m_farncombe" (Guildford UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Song (Paperback)
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Other reviewers have dismissed this book as formulaic and, you know what?, they're both right and wrong.

They are right in that the book is formulaic: man from advanced, space-going civilisation gets dropped onto backward word, causes trouble, meets aliens, falls in love. Ho hum, read it before.... However, Colin Harvey does a really good job with the basic material. The norse culture is entertaining and rumbustious, the aliens are enigmatic and the love story touching.

In none of these respects does this book bear comparison to Vernon Vinge's A Fire Upon The Deep (Gollancz S.F.), but it's an entertaining way to pass a long train journey.
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Winter Song
Winter Song by Colin Harvey (Paperback - 1 Oct 2009)
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