Sunday, August 16, 2015

Readalong - Novels of the Change 1.1

Cover art by: Jonathan Barkat; Photoshop credit: Stephen Fischer

Well, it's the end of week 1 of our Novels of the Change reread/ readalong (If you missed the original announcement this is what we will be doing: Introduction to Readalong.  This is our first discussion post; we will be discussing chapters 1-15 of Island in the Sea of Time.

     I love visiting historical places.  I like the feel of a place that has been steeped in time.  The opening pages of Island in the Sea of Time, when the island of Nantucket is described, gave me that same feeling.    "The collapse of the whaling industry during the Civil War era had frozen Nantucket in time, down to the huge American elms along Main Street and the cobblestone alleys"..."a place where Longfellow and  Whittier would have felt at home and Melville would have taken a few minutes to notice the differences" (9 & 10), the description really gave me a feel for the feeling of history that must permeate the island.  I feel that this is probably the perfect setting for an island that is thrown back in time, way far back in time to 1250BC. because they have the museums, and antique shops,  and the old, well-insulated houses.
     It would be scary to be suddenly relocated to another time.  I know that probably sounds like an understatement, but I rewrote that sentence several times and that's the only way it sounds right.  Simply put, it would be scary.  I would be scared! I empathize with the people in the novel who turn to the church to tell them what to do.  I would be looking for someone to give me direction too.  Part of what is so scary is the overwhelming sense of responsibility.  They are more advanced than all the other people that they are coming in contact with.  How far is too far?  How much is too much?  Should they share technology?  Should they avoid contact with the natives and try not to disrupt how things develop?  All the moral issues of time travel come into play the minute they step foot off of the island of Nantucket. 
     After Walker's group of dissenters steals their ships and leaves the island all of those decisions are taken away from the group left on Nantucket.  Now they have to prepare to defend themselves against an inevitable attack from their own people.  So far I have found the encounter with the Jaguar People to be the most brutal part of Island in the Sea of Time.  I was on the edge of my seat and had to read it fast.  There was cannibalism, murder, rape, bestiality... It made me feel a little sick it was all so brutal.  At the end of chapter 15 we are left with the knowledge that a deadly disease has been introduced into the native population.  What result that will have we aren't sure, but it won't be good.
    One thing that has always impressed me with S.M. Stirling's novels are his strong female characters.  The scientist who discovers that they have been thrown back in time during The Event is a woman, Doreen Rosenthal.  Captain Marian Alston of the Coast Guard ship Eagle, which was thrown back in time with the island of Nantucket is an awesome strong character and I love the fact that she is a lesbian and her relationship with Swindapa  of the Earth Folk, who is also a wonderful strong character.  All of the later novels in The Novels of the Change are also full of strong, well represented female characters.  Thank you Mr. Stirling, I truly appreciate the accurate representation of women in your novels. 

Discussion Questions: (If you are reading along and want to join the discussion feel free to answer these questions, or pose your own questions in the comments)

Since this is our first discussion post if you are planning to read along with BookGirlR please introduce yourself in the comments and tell us if this is your first time reading The Novels of the Change or if you are rereading.

BookGirlR thinks the island of Nantucket is a pretty good place to be if you have to be thrown back in time.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Why?  Can you think of another place that would be as good or better?

Would you be scared to be thrown back in time?  What would your greatest struggle be?

*** I found that the reading progressed much faster than I had thought it would.  I had assumed that I would be reading about half of a novel per week (because I am also still reading my other novels for review), but I actually read about two-thirds of Island in the Sea of Time this week.  Maybe it's because I'm rereading the novels, having read them before I am able to read them a bit faster this time?  Or maybe it's because I had some insomnia problems this week and spent some extra time reading in bed in the middle of the night.  Whatever the reason, we will be discussing chapters 16-end next Sunday.***

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