By Adam Roberts | February 26, 2008
Categories: Book News
Dan Hartland, over at Strange Horizons, has some thoughtful and, by and large, praising things to say about Swiftly:
In Swiftly, he takes [his] talent for cannibalisation to a more serious end—he creates a world which, in its variety of familiar motifs, reminds us of something we should know and yet is not. We feel at home here, even whilst being constantly reminded that we are far from that. Roberts deepens yet further our empathy for his at-sea protagonists. The world has changed—I feel it in the prose.
Swift's hatred of structures and systems, but his love of individuals with their foibles and quirks, is brought to the fore in Swiftly, a worthy science fictional successor to Swift's indispensable masterwork. If Roberts has explicated Swift's surreal world with wit and not a little learning, he has also in no small part written a book equal parts adventure story and social commentary. Its philosophy is Swift's, but its success is all Roberts's own.
He has some small problems with the way the original short-story has been reworked into a full-length novel, and with aspects of the characterisation, but he also says that this is 'criticism which doesn't have much to say about how enjoyable the book is to read', which is nice.
In another medium, Anthony Browne at the fruity and opal Starburst magazine gives it a full-page review; he also has some very nice things to say, although some less positive things too, and on balance the latter rather outweigh the former: 3 stars out of 5. I console myself by thinking, perhaps erroneously, that they are the best three stars: stars three, four and five, perhaps, and not the baser, less valuable stars one and two. Who knows?