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3.9 out of 5 stars
Salt (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
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on 22 November 2000
'Salt' is an interesting read. I was intrigued by the planet, covered in crystalline salt, and the efforts of the colonists to make it home. However, the narrative style, using three narrators, was distracting from the story. I spent a fair bit of time evaluating situations as told by each of the two major narrators, trying to work out which was the truth. So, in summary, a good idea and premise, but in my opinion the execution could have been slicker.
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on 5 June 2001
After glowing write-ups on amazon from readers and reviews I was hoping for a intelligent and interesting read. However I found Salt to be much like salt - rather bland and average. I might have been spoilt with great novels by Iain M Banks and was hoping Salt would match the bold SF of Banks. But after finishing it I was left feel a interesting concept was not matched by the story itself.
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on 20 June 2001
...I read this book last year and it is genius, nothing less -- brilliantly written, moving and profound. The character of Petja isn't a straightforward good gy or bad gy, but hes most certainly a poet -- there's some just beautiful writing in here. The battle scenes are brilliant and vivid, and the whole stayed with me long after I finished it. The best sf novel I read in a long time.
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on 10 November 2013
I read this all in one go, and enjoyed it. I related very strongly to Petja. His conversation with Rhoda in Chapter 3 is a classic in cultural misunderstanding. It's also valuable as a proposition for anarchist societies and resonated deeply with my own views. Petja's observations about hierarchical societies are brilliant and true, and should give anyone food for thought.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2001
This is an exceptional debut. Roberts demonstrates considerable talent in his depiction of a tragic war on a desolate colony world. The book has been compared to Frank Herbert's Dune and has echoes of many other books such as the work of Kim Stanley Robinson and Iain M. Banks, but it must be considered in its own right as a singular and outstanding novel.
Roberts uses two narrators from opposing political factions to describe their contrasting viewpoints of the events leading to the war and there are some interesting conflicts between the two accounts. The depth of even these two main characters is somewhat weak and they really serve only to give an impression of the general thinking of their political group. In this way Roberts manages to describe the philosophies of his two societies very well. However I found it very difficult to become attached to either one of the main characters, but this is probably partly because Roberts refuses to define one side or the other as being right or wrong and indeed both sides are (incredulously) equally to blame for what occurs.
The lack of character depth however, does not seem to detract from the effect the novel has on the reader. One finds oneself somehow hoping that the two factions can settle their differences and the (inevitable) war can be averted. It has to be said that regardless of our feelings for the two main characters Salt is an often heart-rending and certainly melancholy tale.
One criticism of the novel is perhaps its length. The book is less than 250 pages long and seems to suffer because of it. In my opinion comparisons with Dune were unfounded because Frank Herbert manages to describe in rich and glorious detail the ecology, culture, landscape etc. of a complete alien world. In the Mars trilogy Kim Stanley Robinson does a similar job with a planet much closer to home as well as relating the story of the colonisation of a world with all the complex politics at play. Roberts does not even begin to achieve such feats. Also perhaps the length of the book can be blamed for the lack of character development. Writers such as the late great Isaac Asimov and Stephen Baxter have displayed a tremendous talent of developing characters in a relatively short amount of time (pages). Although Roberts writes succinctly I couldn't help feeling that the book was rather "skeletal" and would have benefited greatly from some "fleshing out."...
But the final words must go to Adam Roberts himself. Salt is a confident and impressive debut. Roberts shows great skill and obviously has enormous potential; I look forward to reading his next book (On).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2001
Adam Roberts, with SALT is a great read. Roberts assumes the reader has an IQ above average room temperature; is over 17 years old; and can pay attention to details. Salt is a could-not-put-down book. In brief, a string of deep space habitats and colonists, literally hitching a ride behind a comet, set off to a distant planet, one that according to data was much like Earth. Misunderstandings develop during the long journey, planting seeds of mistrust among the ideologically differing colonial groups. Their destination is not Earth-like. It is covered with salt and contains an atmosphere of chlorine gas. It's impossible to return to Earth and the colonists have no choice but to deal with the alien atmosphere, and ultimately, with each other. I think Roberts' story could have gone on for a few more thousand words and hope that his next book will pick up the saga.
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on 6 May 2014
Society broken down into philosophical, not religious tribes. Wonderfully clear visual picture of a different world 'Salt', although mankind's problems remain very similar. A really good story to boot!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2002
No matter where they are, no matter how far into the future people will never understand each other, that is the message of Salt.
Adam Roberts combines the political unstablity of the modern world and places it in a wonderfully harsh environment, whose hostility is only topped by the warring clans.
One clan calls the other anarchists, the other calls the other authoritarian. you can almost taste the salt in your mouth in this bizzaire world.
This book is one step away from being a poingnant reflection on the Gulf and the Cold wars.
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It reminded me of Ursula K LeGuin, but without the optimism that we humans will be able to sort things out in the end. I am probably weak minded, but I like to feel cheerful at the end of a book
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2001
I have to wonder if other reviewers were reading the same book, I found this a very disappointing read. Fundamentally, the book describes a religious war on an alien planet, the problem is that I failed to empathise with either side - the pompous self righteousness of the leader of one side against the indifference of the "leader" of the other (both of which are, bravely, given equal coverage) completely failed to inspire me. There are a few highlights (like the descripion of the rebel "actions"), but you would be better off ignoring this title and reading the more polishing (and strangely, believable) "On" by the same author instead.
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