As others have said, this is a haunting book, I think because it presses many buttons in the English psyche. On the one hand, it presents many of the things we yearn for in a semi-imaginary lost England: roaring fires, steam engines and other neat mechanical technology, foaming ale, crisp winter nights, etc. On the other, it presents the sadness and isolation of pre-modern rural life; fate tends to treat Roberts' characters harshly. I didn't find "Pavane" very coherent in underlying concept, and I thought the ultimate explanation (and authorial conclusion) a little daft. Nevertheless, the sequence of stories works well in itself, and the ultimate effect is heart-rending: SF meets Thomas Hardy.