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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting collection of interlinking stories, 13 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The Silver Wind: Four Stories of Time Disrupted (Hardcover)
The Silver Wind is the first short story collection that I've read from Nina Allan and it definitely won't be the last, because she's a great and talented writer. Earlier I read one of her stories (Bellony in the Blind Swimmer anthology) and I liked it very much, so I had high hopes for this collection. All my hopes were fulfilled, because The Silver Wind is a fantastic collection.

The Silver Wind is a short, but complicated collection of five interlinking science fiction stories. The stories are:
- Time's Chariot
- My Brother's Kee per
- The Silver Wind
- Rewind
- Timelines: An Afterword

The main characters are Martin and Andrew Owen/Owen Andrews, who is called "The Circus Man" by Martin's sister Dora. He's a mysterious watchmaker, who has been involved in a government project to manipulate time.

The Silver Wind is a short masterpiece about love, loss and clocks, but it's also much more than that. The stories form a challenging and unusual reading experience. The author explores mainstream and science fiction elements from different viewpoints in these five stories and allows the reader a chance to wonder what's going on, because there are several similarities between the stories, but the details and events are slightly different.

Here's a bit of information about the stories:

The first story, Time's Chariot, is an achingly beautiful story about Martin and his sister, Dora (Martin loves his sister very much). Martin loses his sister and misses her. I loved this story, because it was beautifully written and touching.
My Brother's Kee per is also a story about Martin, but in this story Martin has lost his brother instead of a sister. Martin sees his dead brother and he tells Martin hidden and secret things. It was interesting to read how Martin reacted to the news about his mother.
The Silver Wind is basically a story about Owen Andrews and his involvement in the secret project, but it's also a story about Martin, who seeks out Owen Andrews in order to reunite with his dead wife, Miranda. (Although this story is science fiction, it contains a horror element.)
Rewind is a story about Martin and Miranda. In previous stories Miranda has been a minor character, but now she becomes a major character.
Timelines: An Afterword is the shortest story, but it offers a fascinating literary point of view to certain things and it's totally different from the previous stories.

The most interesting thing about this collection is that at first it's a bit difficult to say if Martin is always the same Martin in each story, but when you read the stories carefully you'll notice that each Martin is different and lives in an alternate universe/timeline. These characters feel the same, but they're different (and they have different lives). Because Nina Allan writes about alternate universes and timelines, the same characters, names and places occur in each story, but something is always different. This creates a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere, which adds dramatic, but fascinating weirdness to the collection.

Three stories (Time's Chariot, My Brother's Keeper and The Silver Wind) were published earlier, but the last two stories are new stories. It's possible to read each story separately, but if you read them separately, you'll only get partial glimpses into the lives of the characters. When put together, these stories form an intriguing study of timelines and alternate universes and everything begins to make sense.

I know that what I've written about these stories may sound strange, but when you think about the events and the characters, all the small details are there for a reason. It's possible that some people may interpret and analyze the events of these stories differently, but that's the beauty of them. The author has written stories, which invite versatile analyzation, because each reader may have his/her own opinions about the events.

The Silver Wind is one of those collections in which the quality of writing is as close to quality mainstream literature as possible. Nina Allan writes fluently about the feelings of the characters and doesn't shy away from difficult themes. For example, she writes unflichingly about the unusual relationship and sexual attraction between Martin and Dora.

Nina Allan is clearly an author to watch, because she has her own unique writing style and she dares to try different kinds of storytelling techniques. The Silver Wind is a powerful and thought-provoking collection of science fiction stories, which can be recommended to readers who are interested in intelligent and philosophical science fiction. The Silver Wind is one of the best short story collections I've read this year, because it makes its reader think about things. I'm sure that everybody who likes literary and thought-provoking science fiction will love this collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For connoisseurs of time, 1 Nov. 2011
Q. Crisp - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Silver Wind: Four Stories of Time Disrupted (Hardcover)
The Silver Wind is a book of four short stories (five really, with the Afterword), which may be treated as a kind of experimental novel. Experimental because the stories are interlinked in such a way that they create a whole greater than the sum of its parts, which is, nonetheless, dependent for its effects on being independent parts.

The theme of all the stories is time, specifically in relation to watches. The many-worlds theory has now entered popular imagination, and this volume is an especially interesting example of the fiction that has arisen from that theory. There is a slight (and agreeable) feeling that this is the many-worlds theory as explored by Heath Robinson, since the exploration of the different worlds hinges upon what may seem the quaint mechanics of the horologe (watch or clock). To a lay reader, such as I am, there is (Heath Robinson notwithstanding) also a peculiar convincing felicity to such technical details as are given to explain the various time anomalies explored in the stories, and this felicity reinforces the emotional content of the works, too. That content is human attachment and loss, and particularly in relation to the delicate mechanisms of chance that bring people together, or separate them again. In one story the central character, Martin Newland, is particularly close to someone who is absent from his life in another; in all the stories (the fourth hints at a possible redemption) Martin is haunted by feelings of absence, as if he once had something, or knew something, now lost and forgotten.

Early on in my reading of The Silver Wind, I had the feeling that I was reading children's literature, but for adults. For some people this might not be understood as the compliment that it truly is. The Silver Wind is most certainly an adult book, and is especially adult in its calm, non-judgemental treatment of the various characters and their inmost feelings. However, it does that thing that very few works of adult fiction do; it suggests that what is most magical in human life may be understood somehow by going into the minatory shadows of the unmagical. It is especially an autumnal book, because it contains a secret warmth and festivity beneath a dark and threatening firmament.

I think that C.S. Lewis provides a useful reference point here. The magic in the work of Lewis and the magic in the work of Allan seem to me to have one thing at least in common, and that is an understanding of the concept of 'sehnsucht'. C.S. Lewis described sehnsucht as follows: "That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World's End, the opening lines of 'Kubla Khan', the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves."

The Silver Wind is full of this feeling.

Plot precis is not my strong-point, and the plot, in any case, shared between four or five stories that run in parallel (or in Spaghetti Junction) rather than consecutively, is rather too elaborate for casual precis. Suffice it to say that Martin's fascination with watches leads him into a twilight knowledge of other timelines intersecting with this. In all the timelines we are shown his destiny is linked in varying, fragile ways with the sames lives and major events - a sister he loves and loses, an absent father, and a dwarf called Owen Andrews who makes time machines (both literally and literally, so to speak - clocks or watches that either just tell the time, or that also influence it). Martin's sliding from world to world also takes him into a dystopian Britain which, in the context of the story, we make take as the right timeline (reality) or the wrong one (nightmare).

Since one theme of the works assembled here is the non-linear nature of time, it would probably be inappropriate if the volume were anything other than open-ended, and, indeed, it is open-ended. The reader is invited to view the stories as Owen Andrews might view the workings of various machines with which he is tinkering - we may try for ourselves to see which pieces fit best with which.

Overall a deft and fascinating collection and one that makes me interested to see what Allan will produce next.
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5.0 out of 5 stars REVIEW BY TREVOR DENYER, 28 Feb. 2012
This is a brilliant novel that intertwines themes and times as the protagonists relate to one another in ways that contradict then connect, leaving traces of memory with the reader, like hooks that the characters are only vaguely aware of, but which the reader sees through the prism of time travel.

The story of Martin Newland will take you into a strange world where time is not linear, but consists of many variables, governed by the movement of watches and clocks.

Nina Allan has created a complex, endlessly fascinating story that spans an ever changing timescape where bizarre events jostle with the everyday. Familiar echoes of past timelines impact upon the developing story as it progresses to a conclusion that leaves you feeling as if you have been on a journey you have not fully understood but which, at every turn, you have been intimately engaged with.

I love this writer's work which is challenging but supremely rewarding for anyone with the imagination to fly with her, through the mechanism of clocks and watches, on the silver wind.

This is another excellent title from Eibonvale Press: [...]
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The Silver Wind: Four Stories of Time Disrupted
The Silver Wind: Four Stories of Time Disrupted by Nina Allan (Hardcover - 1 Oct. 2011)
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