Reading Journal Entry: Island on the Sea of Time, by S. M. Stirling

I heard a lot of good buzz about this book. I was expecting more from it.

It's a high-concept book: Nantucket gets catapulted to 1250 BC. Coast Guard boat too close to shore gets pulled along too. What shall the soft-bellied inhabitants of the twentieth century do? Eric Flint pulled off much the same trick with 1632, except in West Virginia.

This meaty premise is treated with all the delicacy of a butcher. The writing is atrociously poorly edited, the characters are flat and endlessly unsatisfying. Stirling has made an effort to include different points of view, but the black lesbian Coast Guard Captain speaks with the same 'voice' as the white Prostestant police captain. The lack of introspection is monumental. We never learn the names of the children Our Lesbian Hero left behind. The island's only two Jews marry each other, but never mention their religion.

I thought this book would never end. It's this kind of mechanical, juvenile wish-fulfillment (the lesbian ends up having sex with a blond teenage Druidic warrior chick) that gives science fiction a bad name.


Richard Mason said...

I see that I have been getting this book confused with Marooned in Realtime by Vinge. (I've read the latter, not the former.)

mapletree7 said...

So did I, for several year - it does have a fantastic title. Wasted on such a piece of crap book.

No, I shouldn't say that. It's not a total piece of crap any more than a lot of very popular science fiction novels are crap. I would have loved it when I was 13.