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Slow River

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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  1,910 ratings  ·  167 reviews
She awoke in an alley to the splash of rain. She was naked, a foot-long gash in her back was still bleeding, and her identity implant was gone. Lore van de Oest had been the daughter of one of the world's most powerful families...and now she was nobody, and she had to hide.

Then out of the rain walked Spanner, predator and thief, who took her in, cared for her wound, and t...more
Trade Paperback, "Nebula" edition; ISBN 0-345-39537-9, 344 pages
Published August 1996 by Ballantine Del Rey (first published July 4th 1995)
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Kelly
Oh, where to begin with this one. I liked this book a lot, but I don't think it was good. Which is fine. Except I think the author was probably much more interested in the book being good versus enjoyable.

Two summers ago, I think, I read Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge. I told several people about how the book was enjoyable but kind of ridiculously self-indulgent. It's a book that's supposed to be about virtual reality prisons that is actually about how awesome it is to have your super power be PRO...more
Lit Bug
Nicola Griffith’s Nebula Award and Lambda Award-winning second novel Slow River is a very near-future SF lesbian story focusing on a young woman’s journey to self-discovery and establishing her own identity, told across three time-frames, spanning from her privileged childhood as the potential heiress of the van Oest family who controls waterworks that provide clean drinking water in an age where untreated water is no longer drinkable, to her abduction and her family’s unexplained silence and re...more
Nikki
I don't think I read the summary of Slow River when I bought it. It wasn't familiar at all when I started reading it, anyway. And I... kind of liked that. Everything was a surprise. I loved the careful unfolding of the threefold narrative, the careful bringing to light of secrets you begin to feel you should've known all along. And I loved that LGBT relationships were normal, just taken for granted. I loved that the main character learns all sorts of things about privilege and the lack of it.

I e...more
Rob
...Slow River is one of those novels that left me unable to pick up another book for several days after I finished it. It is a very impressive work of science fiction. Lore's trials are not easy on the reader. For most of the novel she is searching for herself, grasping to understand the relationships within her family and the complexity of their company. It would seem that she is more at ease with systems design than with the infinitely complex structures of human relationships. She learns thou...more
Anthony Ryan
Hard to believe it's almost two decades since I read this, but Nicola Griffith's coming of age tale remains as relevant today as ever. The socially alienating effects of privilege lie at the heart of this near-future tale of a young woman cast adrift from her wealthy family by a kidnapping gone wrong, finding love, friendship and a sense of social justice in the process. Anyone expecting a post-cyberpunk mish-mash of martial arts and weapon enhanced mercenaries will be disappointed; Griffith pre...more
Ben Babcock
On one hand, I love science fiction that examines how new technology can completely disrupt society. Few people, two centuries ago, could envision the way we live today, so many of us spending our time punching buttons on the side of a flat box so that words show up on a screen a few centimetres away. Technological advancement is driven by and drives changes in society. On the other hand, it’s always nice to see books that dial back the disruption to focus on what doesn’ change. In the case of S...more
Elaine Burnes
Really 3.5 stars but we don't get that option. I was heading for three stars for much of the book. Literary porn came to mind. But in the end, Griffith won me over with character. Lore gets under your skin (pun intended) and I liked her too much to not be a little generous. This is Lore's story, told in three ways: 1) her childhood in third person, present tense, 2) her present in first person, past tense and 3) her recent past in third person, past tense. Sounds like a recipe for disaster and i...more
Katie Kadwell
This is one of my all time favorite books. In this intricately detailed speculative thriller the protagonist, upon leaving her girlfriend, builds a tiny garden out of a postage stamp yard filled with rubble outside her apartment, while in the midst of an intrigue involving her work on the use of genetically engineered flora in cleaning up water systems.
Jeremy Preacher
This was hard to get into, but picked up considerably in the second half. Part of the difficulty was that the book is written as a set of parallel stories covering different parts of the timeline, and none of them have much impact until you know enough about the others to have some context. Once the pieces begin to fall into place, the story becomes clearer and all the character development is sort of revealed all at once.

I didn't dislike it. There are some interesting things going on here, and...more
John
People have been telling me for years I should be reading some Nicola Griffith. They were right.

Slow River is the story of stratospherically rich kid Lore, who has just escaped from the seemingly homicidal maniacs who kidnapped her. She finds herself abandoned, severely injured, in a city; she's taken in by Spanner, a data pirate living not so much on the criminal fringes of society as some way beyond them. After Lore has recovered from her injury she naturally becomes Spanner's apprentice in al...more
Phoenixfalls
This is a deeply impressive novel. It is exquisitely crafted: the pace is measured, but sure; the metaphors are used delicately; and the control over perspective (shifting between first person, tight third person, and loose present-tense third person for the three different timelines) is both absolute and absolutely necessary to the emotional arc being told. It is a novel to mull over, savor.

It is also an incredibly intense experience, or at least it was for me. I read it slowly partly so that I...more
Lisa Eckstein
At the beginning of SLOW RIVER, a young woman named Lore is acquiring the identity implant of a dead stranger in order to apply for a menial and difficult job at a wastewater treatment plant. Lore is immensely overqualified for this position, but she has to keep her true identity a secret so that she can remain in hiding. Through flashbacks, the reader learns about the series of horrific events that led to this point, and meanwhile Lore uses her expertise at the plant to uncover corruption and p...more
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James
As I read this novel written by Nicola Griffith I was impressed with the structure--the way the author slowly unfolded the story of Lore and her two lives. It took some patience, but that patience was rewarded as the story came together with an exciting climax that was effective and true to the details that had gone before. The basic story is that of Lore van de Oest, the daughter of one of the most powerful families in the world, who awakens naked in an alley with a foot-long gash in her back....more
Morgan
Nicola Griffith is a very good writer. Anyone who can make a compelling, exciting, thoughtful, and award-winning novel about water purification certainly deserves respect.
The other most impressive aspect of this novel is the fact that the narrative is split half-and-half between present and past, with the past written in the third person and the present written in the first person. The author seems to have handled this design effortlessly, despite the fact that it so easily could have ended up a...more
Sophie
This is a 90s cyberpunk novel about a lesbian water engineer, it's well written if a bit dry and I enjoyed it, but there is a lot of rape-y stuff that happens on and off screen and some related unfortunate implications (see below)

It is definitely the best example I can think of of a genre novel with a protagonist who is believably mogai/lgbt but whose story has nothing to do with their sexuality. It has some nice, not too heavy handed commentary on corporations and copyright, too, and the non li...more
Elizabeth
Liked this, didn't love it. Lore is trying to reconcile her multiple lives -- her childhood of privilege and abuse as an heir to a wealthy family, her recent past living in the cracks of society, getting by with theft, drugs and porn, and her present where she tries to rebuild an honest life on her own. The story jumps back and forth between the three, but I only really cared about the present version of her. And the twist at the end felt like the author trying to be clever, rather than somethin...more
Erin
Enjoyed this dark, futuristic tale (it's classified as sci-fi and is a Nebula award winner, but definitely no hard SF here) of Lore, a scion of a wealthy family who is kidnapped, then rescued by Spanner. Part love story, part technological thriller, part good novel - there were a few inconsistencies, but none lessened my enjoyment of the story.
Wolverina
This is a fucking good book.

Lesbians, identity theft, some proto-bio punk type issues and the social effects type of cyberpunk that I like. All about the wominz overcoming shitty things and making choices.

More people need to read this.
Wealhtheow
Jan 15, 2008 Wealhtheow rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Julian
Too much cyberpunk is all about the Net and the Virtual World and omg, hackers are so cool! Slow River is definitely cyberpunk, but it's also full of meaty characterization and realistic relationships.
Jamie
IF I EVER WAKE UP IN THE FUTURE I NOW KNOW HOW TO EFFICIENTLY MANAGE A SEWAGE TREATMENT FACILITY AND EDIT PORNOGRAPHIC VIDEO FOOTAGE FOR FUN AND PROFIT THANK YOU SLOW RIVER
Gordon
Lore is an interesting character. A child of privilege in the near future of a hopefully constructed world, she is faced with a brutal choice and chooses to immerse herself in the seamy world her family has created but has also avoided. Her emergence from the slow river of her early adulthood into a better identity is the center of this novel's plot. As is always true with Griffith, the characters are memorable and the prose is interesting. The adult writer emerges in this novel that she penned...more
Karelia Stetz-Waters
I am always looking for well-written books with interesting LBGT characters. Slow River fits the bill. Loved it.
Holly
i'm haunted by the concepts in this book... years after finishing it. pretty difficult and very brilliant.
Michelle
I first read this book because I found it recommended as "Lesbian Sci-fi". While the main character does have sexual relationships and an overarcing romance with women, her love life is not the focus of this story.

This story has a statement. It is an eco-critical examination of water pollution and at the same time, a struggle for a woman to stand up for herself. It's about many things, and the main character just happens to be gay. Her relationships, however, do not define this book. I think I...more
Jordan
Three and a half stars, rounded up. The beginning of the books starts out a bit slow and the fact that the story is told in three parts (Lore's childhood, recent past, and present) makes it a little awkward to get into. The only signaling of the change of time is a shift in the POV, which took a couple changes to get used to. I liked how the three parts wove together though, so it was definitely worth the minor adjustment. The three timelines all come together just as Lore is finally figuring ev...more
Timothy
A book that I started reading on a whim without knowing anything about it, turns into one of the most memorable books I've read this year.

Though technically, this is listed as 'science-fiction', this is more of a character story with the focus being on Lore of the world-renown van de Oest family, from multiple chronological perspectives. From the beginning, there are hints of a dark secret surrounding Lore's family that teases us throughout the book, that might or might not have had something to...more
Bryan
Took a few days to mull over this one, before writing the review.

Nicola Griffith is a good author. I enjoyed her style and she told her story well. Her writing is very good at evoking images so I felt I was able to "see" the people and places she was describing easier than with some other authors.

I found the story to be intriguing, yet I kept wondering where it was going. When it finally got there, I was a bit disappointed and everything seemed to wrap up much too nicely. The story itself wasn't...more
Paula
I'd seen a recommendation somewhere for this book and managed to pick it up through my favourite bookswap site.

Our protagonist, Lore, is the child of a rich family living in a future England - her family has made its money through bioengineering and we first encounter her when she is kidnapped and held for ransom as a teenager. Escaping from her captors, Lore is found naked and battered on the street and 'rescued' by Spanner, a woman who makes her living by hacking and generally doing whatever s...more
Rachel Popham
Though it suffers at times during more explanatory moments, the story of Frances Lorien van de Oest is a neatly interwoven trio of mysteries: What's wrong with the van de Oests? What's wrong with Spanner? What's wrong at the plant? Each of which relates in turn to a unique mystery of Lore's personhood. Shifts in perspective (first person past tense, third person past tense, third person present tense) provide clarity regarding which sub-story we're seeing at any given time. Stories of users and...more
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What's The Name o...: dystopian world where only the elite have grey hair [s] 3 42 Nov 21, 2013 04:49AM  
Mostly Lesfic: Slow River by Nicola Griffith 16 27 May 19, 2012 09:19AM  
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90780
Nicola Griffith has won the Nebula Award, the James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award, the World Fantasy Award, and six Lambda Literary Awards. She is also the co-editor of the Bending the Landscape series of anthologies. Her newest novel, Hild, will be published fall 2013. She lives in Seattle with her wife, writer Kelley Eskridge.

Series:
* Aud Torvingen
More about Nicola Griffith...
Hild Ammonite The Blue Place (Aud Torvingen, # 1) Stay (Aud Torvingen #2) Always (Aud Torvingen #3)

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