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Slow River Paperback – Aug 20 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (Aug. 20 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345395379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345395375
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 20.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #239,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Slow River won both the Nebula Award and the Lambda Literary Award for author Nicola Griffith. The book's near-future setting and devices place it firmly on the science fiction shelves, and the characters' matter-of-fact sexuality further label it as lesbian SF. But make no mistake, Slow River is no subgenre throwaway. Griffith's skill at weaving temporal threads through the plot bring protagonist Lore van de Oest to tragic life, and you will genuinely care about her in the end.

Born into a bioengineering family made wealthy by cleaning up after humanity, Lore leads a life of privilege and power. Riches don't bring happiness, though, and the van de Oest family hides its share of dark secrets. Lore is kidnapped, but escapes from her captors when she realizes her family isn't going to pay the ransom. Naked, alone, and wounded, she is saved by the brutally street-smart Spanner, who teaches Lore to survive by exploiting the Net (and human) weaknesses. To learn to trust, though, Lore must face her demons, one by one, until she can begin again.

Griffith's biotech-science details are accurate, and she fits them smoothly into the story in the manner of a cyberpunk master. This novel's real strength is its characters, though. The van de Oest family, Spanner, even characters who appear only briefly, are all distinct and consistent--not to mention very human. Lore herself seems so personal that Griffith's note about the story's disturbing aspects not being autobiographical was probably wise. Slow River is more than good enough to transcend genre and appeal to both queer SF readers and a more broad audience looking for an excellent character-driven SF story. --Therese Littleton

From Publishers Weekly

Set in a dystopian future, Griffith's second novel involves a woman's search for identity.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
In SF, unlike its sister genre fantasy, there has been a history of dealing with issues of homosexuality in an unflinching, honest fashion (instead of fantasy's fey princes and twisted perverts) and while those issues have not really grasped mainstream SF, it's always been there, blatantly stated in Samuel Delany writings and others, lurking in Disch, in Ballard, from the sixties and seventies onward, incorporating sexuality matter of factly, almost explicitly so. There have been subgenres, of course, as there are in any major genre, but for the most part it's not really shocking or scandalous to see homosexuality represented in SF. And so awarding the Nebula to this novel both gladdens and confuses me. Gladdens, because it is a fine, tightly constructed novel, exploring its characters with a depth normally reserved for such masters as Margaret Atwood (when it comes to charactization and studies, at least). Confuses, because there is nothing really explicitly "groundbreaking" about it. The plot, while entertaining and thought provoking, breaks no real new ground, either by busting down nonexistent barriers regarding homosexuality in SF or providing a mindwarping new way of looking at the artiface of Story. The story itself, on the surface, is simple. Lore, a children born into a ridiculously wealthy family is kidnapped and tormented. Eventually she escapes and instead of going back to her family tries to live out among society, where she meets master scammer Scanner, among other people. Eventually she tries to form her own identity, working as the lowest employee on the type of thing her own family patented.Read more ›
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By "blissengine" on March 9 2003
Format: Paperback
Left for dead by her kidnappers, Lore is found by the mysterious woman Spanner, who teaches her to survive by her wits and to live in the dark world of crime. The two become lovers, but Lore wants legitimacy and to heal from her various wounds (her past with her family, her weeks with the kidnappers), so she leaves, taking a new identity, and tries to fit in. Ultimately, Lore cannot run from her demons forever, and she must either choose to stay in the shadows or to face the truths of her past. Set in the not-so-distant future, "Slow River" weaves Lore's pasts and present together into an astonishingly compelling tale. At the heart of the book is the story of a young woman healing from abuse, and the science fiction aspects are simply the setting and enhancing details. "Slow River" is the type of book that transcends whatever genre in which it's placed: it's more than a science fiction story, more than a coming-of-age story, more than a lesbian love story, more than a story of healing from abuse. This is a book that makes one believe in the power of fiction.
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Format: Paperback
What a beautiful novel. Griffith uses the "slow river" analogy to describe the heroine's search for her identity. Lore, the main character, grows up in a wealthy futuristic family. Through a series of images and events (not chronological), the reader gets a superficial picture of Lore's adolescent life. But as the the book progresses, her childhood memories become darker as she discovers the truth that she hides so well from herself.

I thought the novel was particularly rich because it dealt frankly with sexuality. It dealt clearly and truthfully with the complexity of emotion surrounding sex. In one scene Spanner, an abusive lover to Lore, tries to convince Lore that the body is only meat. However, as the novel progresses, the reader discovers that Spanners attitude is the result of a deep self loathing. Lore's self confidence allows her to see that the body is much, much, more and deserving of respect and love.

In some ways this book was rather shocking to me. Not because of the sex scenes, or the homosexuality (I thought that added infinitely to the piece), but because of the way the author transcended gender. Usually we take for granted that certain characteristics are associated with males and females, but in this book the reader sees that many of these characteristics are human- and only easier for one gender to justify (this last part is my interpretation, not something in the novel).

Slow River made me think differently, and I like that above all others things in books.

Lastly, and equally importantly, although languid at times, the book is by no means slow. The plot is engaging, and the science fiction is plausible and interesting.
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Format: Paperback
After reading The Blue Place (TBP), I conclude that Slow River (SR) is head and shoulders above the latest novel. For several reasons: Although both novels showcase the author's fabulous viceral WRITING style, SR is a better STORY. Firstly, it is obvious, a lot more work went into sculpting SR: a tight plot with no superfluous information (ie. info that added to the story, unlike TBP which covers EVERYTHING the author has any interest in *personally*.) Also, the a-b-a-c structure pattern (yes, I took the trouble of checking through the whole book) that artfully introduces info from the past, present and distant past is very carefully crafted, and maintains a great pace. The ending, often critisised for being too abrupt is IMHO brilliant and brave. The story is OVER. Nicola Griffith does not waste time telling more, when there is nothing left to be said. Also, perhaps quite importantly - and this is where TBP fails - it is a good example of its genre. While not quite the typical Nebula winner (which are supposed to be un-typical, anyway!) it blends the science in quite well.
Parting shot: A very atmospheric read, one of what I call "beautiful" novels (TBP is "beautiful" in the same way, but the story detracts from it and makes it beautiful but empty.) SR has more substance.
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