By Adam Roberts | March 28, 2008
Categories: Book News
Richard Cobbett offers his opinion of the book in the latest SFX:
Some speculative fiction ideas just jump right out of the page, and this is definitely one of them: a historical epic set in an England where Lemuel Gulliver was more than just the main character in a book by Jonathan Swift. ...
Swiftly is, ironically, a slow-paced novel, not outright mimicking the flowery style of the era, but certainly taking its share of cues from it. Thereís little of the satire that made the classic that inspired it such a lasting success, but thatís not a problem Ė Adam Roberts is simply using Swiftís creations, not writing a sequel to his original story, and the change of style helps to give Swiftly its own distinct universe. Itís an excellent piece of historical fantasy in its own right, and would likely stand even without the Gulliver connection.
What makes the main story so interesting is the merging of human politics with the new inhuman characters; the struggles between France and England due to the addition of new manpower and technology imported from the rediscovered islands. Itís familiar, but just different enough to be fresh ...
The concept behind Swiftly was strong the first time Roberts used it, as a short story in a collection (which was also, confusingly, called Swiftly) and as a full novel it really gets time to breathe. Itís almost enough to make you grab a boat and head out in search of new islands.
Splendid. I'm still waiting for a copy of the most recent Deathray to arrive in Staines, since it contains a review of the same novel by Sir Guy Haley, no less; but it hasn't made it to any of this town's newsagents yet.