Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From Goodreads: 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.
I found Stations of the Tide a facinating read that walked the line between fantastical and an MC Escher painting. The world setting on Ocean is simply fabulous - loved the idea that there are periodic tides that turn an lowland area into an ocean for a long period of time before eventually receding. We have the Puzzle Palace - the Escher painting - in which nothing is what it was a moment ago. We have a universe in which people can impose thier personality on a "surrogate" and send that body out to do work that they otherwise cannot get to, or go places they can't realistically travel to. The last time I recall reading a book where a person could extend thier personality into a "surrogate" to use the term from this book, was Kiln People by David Brin. He used clay golums.
But what happens when the surrogate takes on a life of it's own? What happens when the answer you seek is standing behind you? A facinating world, good characters and a convoluted plot. Recommended.
(This won the Nebula Award in 1992.)
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