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From author Michael Swanwick--one of the most brilliantly assured and darkly inventive writers of contemporary fiction--comes a masterwork of radically altered realities and world-shattering seductions.

The Jubilee Tides will drown the continents of the planet Miranda beneath the weight of her own oceans. But as the once-in-two-centuries cataclysm approaches, an even greater catastrophe threatens this dark and dangerous planet of tale-spinners, conjurers, and shapechangers.

A man from the Bureau of Proscribed Technologies has been sent to investigate. For Gregorian has come, a genius renegade scientist and charismatic bush wizard. With magic and forbidden technology, he plans to remake the rotting, dying world in his own evil image--and to force whom or whatever remains on its diminishing surface toward a terrifying and astonishing confrontation with death and transcendence.

This novel of surreal hard SF was compared to the fiction of Gene Wolfe when it was first published, and the author has gone on in the two decades since to become recognized as one of the finest living SF and fantasy writers.

Published: Macmillan Publishers on Feb 1, 2011
ISBN: 9781429989497
List price: $7.99
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A kind of 'Civil servant' is dispatched to a watery world to track down illegal technology. While there he is sucked down into a backwoods bayou of superstition, folklore & murder spiced with local tensions and erotic storms.Overarching the 'Bureaucrat' and his mission is a swath of interstellar civilization hinted at in mundane bits, ordinary words and glimpses painted onto the reader's mind in thousands of little meaningful dots until you gradually realize you are walking through a deeply textured universe filled with histories. I first saw this book in the early nineties, but the cover art turned me off-- A man floating in a ocean surrounded by fishes. It didn't make sense to me. Then a second incarnation a little later had a picture of a man in a business suit standing atop a drowned building in the middle of a flooded city. The picture merely implied a weird Apocalyptic tale but not much more.The cover art for this latest incarnation of the story FINALLY hits the spot. The Artist captured the sense of what the Story is about. This is Cover art that finally made me buy the book.A last point-- This Story moves at a sedate pace. I never bothered with the book in my earlier years because it had no space battles or massive action tracts. It's a detective story touching upon a deeper conspiracy. . .and because it's a Detective story, it moves at a personal level.This book is a treat for the intelligent, mature reader on a long Summer Weekend.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A strangely impersonal novel that follows a character referred to only as "the bureaucrat", but which tells the story of the remarkable characters he interacts with in his effort to confirm reports about the illegal use of proscribed technology. Beautifully surreal, and sometimes funny.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Nicking the plot description from Wikipedia: the story of a bureaucrat with the Department of Technology Transfer who must descend to the surface of Miranda to hunt a magician who has smuggled proscribed technology past the orbital embargo, and bring him to justice before the world is transformed by the flood of the Jubilee Tides.This won the Nebula in 1991, and I can see why. I'm sure if I'd read it in 1991 I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. But reading it for the first time in 2011, I find the psychedelic scene jumps merely irritating and tedious. I admire the world-building, which is painted in light strokes that don't succumb to the temptation to explain all, and I liked the characterisation. But reading it was more work than I really cared for, for the amount of payoff I got.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The blurb at the back of the book describes this as "a tightly plotted futuristic detective novel, magical and fantastic, exotic and strange, yet thoroughly grounded in cutting edge science. Michael Swanwick's volatile cocktail of surrealist ideas and invention, high technology and basic humanity explodes with insight and wonder." This is, in fact, a spot-on description of this book. It won the Nedula Award back in 1991 and its easy to see why.The setting is the world of Miranda - a planet which after many years is about to enter its winter season - which means the ocean levels will rise and inundate much of its land, necessitating mass evacuations of the settler colonies that are located below the high-tide level. Its flora and fauna have evolved and adapted to cycles of life on land and underwater. After technological experimentation wiped out the native sentient life years ago (called haunts), high-level technology was proscribed and is tightly controlled by the off-world Technology Transfer Division. When a self-proclaimed magician shows up advertising that he can help people alter their bodies to live in the water, the Division sends a bureaucrat down to investigate whether he has illegally smuggled high-level technology on to the planet, or he simply a fraud, or... something else.The style of the writing is more remnescient of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun than anything else, with its blend of science, myth and magic. the reference in the blurb to surrealist ideas is appropriate as is the reference to high technology. This is a book bursting at the seams with ideas and some spectacularly haunting scenes. For example, [very minor spoilers] offworlders can download their personalities into short lived agents and send them off to accomplish different tasks which may need to be accomplished simultaneously. At one point its mentioned that the reason why information and technology is so tightly controlled by the offworld bureacracy is because of a previous disaster on Earth where an independant AI effectively took over the entire planet by assimilating all life on it within itself. So the moment we encounter an Agent in the form of a giant earth-mother figure sent by the Earth/AI to the rest of humanity which is being held captive and interrogated is simply stunning in its power. There are so many moments and images and ideas replete with symbolism.This is the third book I've read by Micharl Swanwick and he is fast becoming one of my favourite SF&F writers. Stations of the Tide is an outstanding novel and one to return to down the line I think.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I got halfway through & just didn't care if I read another page or not. I'm not sure if the writing wasn't up to snuff or it was the plot - maybe it was the characters. I think it was. I didn't like the hero much & there wasn't a single supporting character that was more than a caricature. The hero was a self absorbed bureaucrat. There were also some sex that just seemed to be put in there to add interest. They didn't. Everything about the book seemed slightly out of place & phase. Anyway, it didn't click for me at all.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Audiobook re read, then reread again. Incredible work of imagination. Beautiful writing. Great characters. Extremely complex. Weird and profane.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I dimly remember reading somewhere that this is the best Nebula Award winner that nobody ever heard of. It's certainly one of the few science fiction novels that I return to again and again, even during periods of time when I've pretty much lost interest in science fiction. The novel is set on Miranda, a planet where ocean tides periodically inundate large portions of the land area. Native life forms transform themselves from terrestrial to aquatic, but the planet's human colonists must abandon the flooded areas until, a few generations later, the tides recede. For reasons only gradually revealed, the interplanetary government has banned certain forms of technology on Miranda, to the great resentment of its citizens.The protagonist, identified only as "the bureaucrat," is an official of the technology-regulating agency. He's been dispatched to Miranda to investigate Gregorian, a self-proclaimed "wizard" who might be a mere con artist -- or might have smuggled forbidden, near-magical technology onto the planet's surface. As he chases the McGuffin-like Gregorian, the bureaucrat learns about Miranda's history and psychology through encounters with a series of fascinating characters. He takes in a lot of local color, has some erotic encounters, and - being a bureaucrat - gets entangled in office politics. He keeps in touch with the home office through its elaborate virtual reality system, where civil servants routinely delegate tasks to digital copies of their own personalities. He finds evidence that Miranda's native sentient species isn't as extinct as everyone thinks it is. And he reveals himself to be much more than the ineffectual, procedure-bound civil servant he at first appears to be.On the surface there's a lot of reference, or at least resemblance, to Gene Wolfe's _The_Fifth_Head_of_Cerberus_: the concern with personal identity by way of cloning (physical or mental), the human-mimicking alien species that may or may not be extinct, even the vaguely French-Creole feel of Mirandan culture. Ultimately, though, _Stations_ is a very different book. _Stations_ isn't for everyone -- it's telling that many online "reviews" of it aren't reviews at all, but complaints about its stealing the Nebula from that year's conventional space opera du jour. But if you're willing to try something a little different, _Stations_ is highly recommended.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

A kind of 'Civil servant' is dispatched to a watery world to track down illegal technology. While there he is sucked down into a backwoods bayou of superstition, folklore & murder spiced with local tensions and erotic storms.Overarching the 'Bureaucrat' and his mission is a swath of interstellar civilization hinted at in mundane bits, ordinary words and glimpses painted onto the reader's mind in thousands of little meaningful dots until you gradually realize you are walking through a deeply textured universe filled with histories. I first saw this book in the early nineties, but the cover art turned me off-- A man floating in a ocean surrounded by fishes. It didn't make sense to me. Then a second incarnation a little later had a picture of a man in a business suit standing atop a drowned building in the middle of a flooded city. The picture merely implied a weird Apocalyptic tale but not much more.The cover art for this latest incarnation of the story FINALLY hits the spot. The Artist captured the sense of what the Story is about. This is Cover art that finally made me buy the book.A last point-- This Story moves at a sedate pace. I never bothered with the book in my earlier years because it had no space battles or massive action tracts. It's a detective story touching upon a deeper conspiracy. . .and because it's a Detective story, it moves at a personal level.This book is a treat for the intelligent, mature reader on a long Summer Weekend.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A strangely impersonal novel that follows a character referred to only as "the bureaucrat", but which tells the story of the remarkable characters he interacts with in his effort to confirm reports about the illegal use of proscribed technology. Beautifully surreal, and sometimes funny.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Nicking the plot description from Wikipedia: the story of a bureaucrat with the Department of Technology Transfer who must descend to the surface of Miranda to hunt a magician who has smuggled proscribed technology past the orbital embargo, and bring him to justice before the world is transformed by the flood of the Jubilee Tides.This won the Nebula in 1991, and I can see why. I'm sure if I'd read it in 1991 I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. But reading it for the first time in 2011, I find the psychedelic scene jumps merely irritating and tedious. I admire the world-building, which is painted in light strokes that don't succumb to the temptation to explain all, and I liked the characterisation. But reading it was more work than I really cared for, for the amount of payoff I got.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The blurb at the back of the book describes this as "a tightly plotted futuristic detective novel, magical and fantastic, exotic and strange, yet thoroughly grounded in cutting edge science. Michael Swanwick's volatile cocktail of surrealist ideas and invention, high technology and basic humanity explodes with insight and wonder." This is, in fact, a spot-on description of this book. It won the Nedula Award back in 1991 and its easy to see why.The setting is the world of Miranda - a planet which after many years is about to enter its winter season - which means the ocean levels will rise and inundate much of its land, necessitating mass evacuations of the settler colonies that are located below the high-tide level. Its flora and fauna have evolved and adapted to cycles of life on land and underwater. After technological experimentation wiped out the native sentient life years ago (called haunts), high-level technology was proscribed and is tightly controlled by the off-world Technology Transfer Division. When a self-proclaimed magician shows up advertising that he can help people alter their bodies to live in the water, the Division sends a bureaucrat down to investigate whether he has illegally smuggled high-level technology on to the planet, or he simply a fraud, or... something else.The style of the writing is more remnescient of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun than anything else, with its blend of science, myth and magic. the reference in the blurb to surrealist ideas is appropriate as is the reference to high technology. This is a book bursting at the seams with ideas and some spectacularly haunting scenes. For example, [very minor spoilers] offworlders can download their personalities into short lived agents and send them off to accomplish different tasks which may need to be accomplished simultaneously. At one point its mentioned that the reason why information and technology is so tightly controlled by the offworld bureacracy is because of a previous disaster on Earth where an independant AI effectively took over the entire planet by assimilating all life on it within itself. So the moment we encounter an Agent in the form of a giant earth-mother figure sent by the Earth/AI to the rest of humanity which is being held captive and interrogated is simply stunning in its power. There are so many moments and images and ideas replete with symbolism.This is the third book I've read by Micharl Swanwick and he is fast becoming one of my favourite SF&F writers. Stations of the Tide is an outstanding novel and one to return to down the line I think.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I got halfway through & just didn't care if I read another page or not. I'm not sure if the writing wasn't up to snuff or it was the plot - maybe it was the characters. I think it was. I didn't like the hero much & there wasn't a single supporting character that was more than a caricature. The hero was a self absorbed bureaucrat. There were also some sex that just seemed to be put in there to add interest. They didn't. Everything about the book seemed slightly out of place & phase. Anyway, it didn't click for me at all.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Audiobook re read, then reread again. Incredible work of imagination. Beautiful writing. Great characters. Extremely complex. Weird and profane.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I dimly remember reading somewhere that this is the best Nebula Award winner that nobody ever heard of. It's certainly one of the few science fiction novels that I return to again and again, even during periods of time when I've pretty much lost interest in science fiction. The novel is set on Miranda, a planet where ocean tides periodically inundate large portions of the land area. Native life forms transform themselves from terrestrial to aquatic, but the planet's human colonists must abandon the flooded areas until, a few generations later, the tides recede. For reasons only gradually revealed, the interplanetary government has banned certain forms of technology on Miranda, to the great resentment of its citizens.The protagonist, identified only as "the bureaucrat," is an official of the technology-regulating agency. He's been dispatched to Miranda to investigate Gregorian, a self-proclaimed "wizard" who might be a mere con artist -- or might have smuggled forbidden, near-magical technology onto the planet's surface. As he chases the McGuffin-like Gregorian, the bureaucrat learns about Miranda's history and psychology through encounters with a series of fascinating characters. He takes in a lot of local color, has some erotic encounters, and - being a bureaucrat - gets entangled in office politics. He keeps in touch with the home office through its elaborate virtual reality system, where civil servants routinely delegate tasks to digital copies of their own personalities. He finds evidence that Miranda's native sentient species isn't as extinct as everyone thinks it is. And he reveals himself to be much more than the ineffectual, procedure-bound civil servant he at first appears to be.On the surface there's a lot of reference, or at least resemblance, to Gene Wolfe's _The_Fifth_Head_of_Cerberus_: the concern with personal identity by way of cloning (physical or mental), the human-mimicking alien species that may or may not be extinct, even the vaguely French-Creole feel of Mirandan culture. Ultimately, though, _Stations_ is a very different book. _Stations_ isn't for everyone -- it's telling that many online "reviews" of it aren't reviews at all, but complaints about its stealing the Nebula from that year's conventional space opera du jour. But if you're willing to try something a little different, _Stations_ is highly recommended.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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