Song of Time Hardcover – Special Limited Edition, 1 Jul 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Roushana is an aging violinist, dying of a degenerative disease in her cottage on the Cornish coast. She's preparing for the end by looking through her keepsakes, mentally arranging and reassessing the memories that they summon. Also, she just found a buff, naked, amnesiac dude on the beach and he's hanging out in her house, listening to her talk and play, and cooking her food.
I know, it sounds bloody awful: the sort of tiresome novel that's all emotion and no action, beautifully told and cleverly constructed, no doubt, probably even symbolic in a somewhat nebulous fashion, but ultimately just a worthy fun-free mope towards the inevitable. Fortunately this one has a redeeming feature: the universally improving ingredient that is science fiction! Our heroine appears to have been born in about 2000 AD, she's survived a century of race riots, nuclear exchanges, killer diseases and environmental catastrophes, and she's now living in a world where dying need not be the last thing that you do. And yes, she's /also/ experienced love and loss, complicated relationships with friends and family, obsession, ecstasy and remorse. And it /is/ all meticulously put together, with vivid characterisation and evocative scene-setting. And while the framing device /does/ distance one from the action, the sense of melancholy inevitability that it imparts is entirely appropriate given the circumstances.
I'm given to understand that this is 'Literary SF', which I generally take to mean 'SF from which one could excise the SF elements without materially affecting the story'.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.