Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick
Gregorian the magician is a native of the planet Miranda. This bureaucrat has been sent to Miranda to retrieve the property of the Authority. Miranda is a planet that is under strict technology control. The stolen property is technology that could change Miranda’s current evolutionary process, including the Jubilee Tides that sweep over the whole planet, covering it with water.
Gregorian’s purported aim is to change Miranda’s evolutionary process. The planet has not been allowed access to advanced technology. The Authority had learned long before from planets like Earth that allowing technology to take over a planet and its population leads to disaster. Gregorian has been educated off-planet. He has seen the advancements of Man. He wants them for his home; he wants to save it. The bureaucrat wants to prevent him from changing Miranda’s current process.
Read this book once. Read it again. Then a third time might help. The first time it will catch your interest. The second time (according to the friend who lent it to me) will help bring it into focus. I would bet it takes at least three times before the full impact of the novel hits. It jumps around in thoughts and focus. Just when I figured I knew how things were falling together, Swanwick would throw in another parameter.
It is full of visuals and conflicting pictures. The first sentence is “The bureaucrat fell out of the sky.” Immediately the reader knows that something is wrong. Is Gregorian the protagonist or the antagonist? Is the Authority correct in keeping the planet under technology control? Or should the tides be allowed to sweep over the planet once again, as they have numerous times in the past? This book is edgy, uncomfortable. Yet it is enthralling as well. I’ll be interested in hearing other opinions.
Notice: Strong sexual content