Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Stations of the Tide” as Want to Read:
Stations of the Tide
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Stations of the Tide

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,611 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
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
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Orb Books (first published 1991)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Stations of the Tide, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Stations of the Tide

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
This was some kind of amazing. The main character, who was never referred to as anything but Bureaucrat, was hardly my definition of a bureaucrat. He was part outcast, part superspy, part magician's apprentice, and part avenger. He wears so many hats during this superb little gem that I never slow down and even consider why. The plot is also so damn interesting and the pacing so fantastic that I almost miss exactly how wonderfully crafted the writing is.

Am I a fan of Swanwick? I have read a few
Kat  Hooper
Apr 03, 2012 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

It’s the Jubilee Year on the planet Miranda. Every 200 years the planet floods and humans must leave until Miranda’s continents are reborn. Miranda used to be the home of an indigenous species of shapeshifters who, during Jubilee, would return to their aquatic forms until the waters receded, but it seems that humans have killed them off.

Gregorian, who lives on Miranda but was educated off-planet by a rich and distant father, now styles himself a magician a
Jan 10, 2016 Nyssa rated it liked it
Recommended to Nyssa by: Flights of Fantasy
What a long, winding, complicated road one must travel to come to the end of this journey. At worst it was very confusing, at best it was quite interesting.
On the whole, it was just compelling enough, despite the fits of frustration, to keep me coming back - reading word by word until the very end.
Jun 26, 2015 Jokoloyo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the books that I described as: good beginning, tedious but necessary middle part, good ending.

It has interesting ideas: planetary romance, and conflict between Miranda people needs and rule of forbidden technology share, to name two of them. But the execution is too slow for my personal taste.

What saved this book to make me like this book: the foreshadow clues are good and the climax ending used the clues well to burn my excitement. What an ending! (Argh! I need to restrain myself
Dec 28, 2015 Jim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got halfway through & just didn't care if I read another page or not. I'm not sure if the writing wasn't up to snuff or it was the plot - maybe it was the characters. I think it was. I didn't like the hero much & there wasn't a single supporting character that was more than a caricature. The hero was a self absorbed bureaucrat. There were also some sex that just seemed to be put in there to add interest. They didn't. Everything about the book seemed slightly out of place & phase. A ...more
Dec 20, 2007 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of surrealism
Despite the sci fi suit this book sometimes wears, this is a full on plunge into surrealism. A story of shape changing, clones, virtual reality, a decaying dying planet, a pastiche of Shakespeare's The Tempest, and other things told in explosion of images straight from the magic realism camp(minus most pretense of "reality"). A paranoid stacking of incidents like Pynchon and diseased and demented characters like Kafka. This is one very literary and mind blowing novel, kind of "Crying of Lot 49" ...more
Zachary Jernigan
OBJECTIVE RATING (my best stab at looking at the book's merits, regardless of whether or not I enjoyed it all that much): 5

PERSONAL RATING (how much the book "worked" for me personally): 4.5
4.0 stars. A very original novel with a smart blend of science fiction and fantasy elements that make an excellent story.

Nominee: Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Nominee: John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Sep 17, 2011 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Swanwick is one those rare authors who - I believe - deserves more recognition than he gets. He is certainly not for everyone (yes, yes, I realize I'm balancing precariously on the very edge of eternal hipsterdoom here); Stations of the Tide lacks that solid straightforwardness which popular books usually possess. The pacing is uneven, and the story often stumbles and walks in circles, and sometimes I got the feeling that the author and I are equally confused as to where we are heading.

db johnston
Stations of the Tide is full of symbolism and allegory dressed up as a cyberpunk detective story. Sections in the middle of the novel are disjointed and elusive, but the surface plot is quite easy to comprehend: the bureaucrat (he is never named) is sent to a planet, Miranda, to investigate whether a self-proclaimed wizard, Gregorian, has smuggled contraband technology onto the planet.

The planet Miranda has three moons and an eccentric orbit about its sun: every two-hundred years there is an ins
Oct 15, 2008 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Think_galactic for its issues re technology/society
Shelves: sci-fi
More coherant than Dragons of Babel, less emotionally wrenching than The Iron Dragon's Daughter, but just as stuffed with innovation and imagination as all of Swanwick's work. An unnamed bureaucrat is sent to a Miranda to investigate possible stolen technology. Miranda is a colony world, forbidden to have any advanced technology, which has led to intense resentment and a thriving subculture of bush wizards.
Mar 30, 2012 Rawle rated it it was amazing
I had to come back and rate this story again.

I should have waited until I was done in the first place. Instead, I rated it half way through, giving it three measly stars no less. I'll never do that again. Boy, was I being miserly with my rating. It deserves five stars, and much more than that.

Stations of the Tide is a fantastic story. It was told in an original way, and it heightened my imagination. A story like this deserves awards. Michael Swanwick deserves applause.

In Stations of the Tide,
Vinnie Tesla
Jun 28, 2012 Vinnie Tesla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Gene Wolfe and other literary SF
Wow, that was gorgeous.

I'm still digesting as I write this, and it's going to take multiple re-readings to begin to unpack the payload of symbolism and reference in this slender volume. And, unlike most novels that aim for those kind of effects, it's very good SF as well, with a rich and consistent vision of a future human civilization, packed with gorgeous, dazzling images and ideas.

I would love to read a book about this book, that chases down the referents, traces the story-within-a-story of t
As much as I tend to find numbers and stars a little silly when reviewing things, Goodreads encourages their use and as such I agonize when it comes to this sort of thing. Three stars feels insulting, but I just handed The Player of Games, which I liked a heck of a lot more than Stations, four stars. I did like Stations of the Tides, but found it to be uneven both in pacing and in tone and while the world of Miranda is well realized, much of the story is grounded in the world beyond Miranda whic ...more
Dec 04, 2011 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In some place, this book was very interesting, and in some wasn't. In particular, one of the things I find interesting about science fiction is the universe-building -- are we reading about a near-future Earth setting, or a universe where interstellar travel is commonplace? While it became quickly clear that this was not set on Earth, the setting was only slowly and not very fully disclosed. I'm OK with describing things up front, and I'm OK with slowly peeling back the curtain -- as ...more
Mar 26, 2008 Illyria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, 2008
"Stations of the Tide" is set on Miranda, a planet on the verge of yet another periodic global drowning, where a bureaucrat equipped with a talking, tracking, ultimately-capable-of-making-decision briefcase is tasked with the hunt for a shaman slash fraud slash technology pirate. Threatened by the imminent great flood, hampered by suspicion of treason, subjected to poisoning and murder attempt, the bureaucrat went from one evacuated city to the next, struggling to find his quarry.

Swanwick poetic
Dec 16, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A science fiction re-telling of Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." The unnamed Bureaucrat plays the role of Marlow, who travels to the planet of Miranda to find the enigmatic figure known as Gregorian. Authorities suspect Gregorian is using banned off-world technology to pose as a magician in the decadent and half-pagan culture of the Tidewater. Add in the threat of the Jubilee tides, natural cataclysmic floods that are due to drown the Tidewater underwater, and the hunt for Gregorian becomes a race ...more
Michael Alexander
May 26, 2010 Michael Alexander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having reread this for the first time in 8 years, and remembering some intense images but very little else, I'm VERY glad I did so . This book is weirdly flat emotionally, not least because of the cipher main character that is the Bureaucrat, or the wisp of a motivation we see in the antagonist. But the universe is fantastic, the pseudophilosophizing is lovely and engaging, the references and hints of the occult are copious, the carnivalesque atmosphere is hard to top, and this skinny little vol ...more
Oct 23, 2014 Chip rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-200-scifi
Another drug induced, heavy sex book that won the Nebula. Most of the book doesn't make any sense. Switches from scene to scene with little explanation of what is going on (Swanwick should have taken more time and more detail with this one). Most of the characters are borderline crazy. The only one that I enjoyed at all was the briefcase.
Elizabeth Hunter
Jun 08, 2011 Elizabeth Hunter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, kindle
The problem with telling stories that involve different layers of reality is that it can be hard for the reader to track which set of rules the story is playing by at any given time. Rich with imagery, fetid with ambiance, this is an interesting story in a fully imagined world, but one that never fully engaged me as a reader. The early chapters had too many lists and throughout the book the choice to devote creative powers to the dark and mucky views made me impatient. While not being quite on t ...more
Aug 04, 2011 Joshua rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting idea, poorly executed. The book was written haphazardly, often it was difficult to follow what was going on; characters who were only briefly introduced later become pivotal for no reason, and the book's setting was so dimly explained as to leave the reader wondering what was going on. It just didn't make sense for about 80% of the book. Don't waste your time with this one....
Hmm - not sure how I feel about this one entirely. It was good overall. It had Gene Wolfe's tricky paw prints all over it: oblique events, rambling dialogue that means something maybe, obscure aliens you never really meet, some dodgy gender politics (ok Swanwick is not as bad Wolfe in this department - not every female is out to sleep with the main character or is otherwise a psycho bitch).

As to the plot - an agent guy lands on a planet to investigate the illegal appropriation of technology by a
How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one, but the light bulb has to want the change.

Odd story about a desk jockey for the ministry of forbidden technology sent to track down a former employee who probably took some interdicted tech with him to a planet that's about to have one of its cyclical massive floods that transforms local lifeforms and forces the rest of the galaxy to evacuate. The self-described bureaucrat / investigator has no enforcement power, he's just s
Apr 15, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Hell of a business trip this guy had! Nothing like that has ever happened to me on a trip. This book is a good example of Swanwick's superior writing ability, and his blend of SF and F. If you listen to this book, narrator Oliver Wyman does an excellent job.
Bjorn Larsen
Just Read: The Stations of the Tide (1991) - Michael Swanwick

I came to this book by way of my quest to read all of the Hugo and Nebula award winners: this was one of the last holdouts that’s, now understandably, getting a little scarce on the used-bookstore circuit. “Stations of the Tide” won the Nebula in ’91, and was nominated for the Hugo and the Campbell in ’92 but didn’t win either. Incidentally, it lost the Hugo to Lois Bujold’s “Barrayar,” a novel of her long Vorkosigan saga that I’ve nev
Jun 17, 2013 zxvasdf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is one of those obvious classics of SF, if not for anything but the sensation of transportation it gives me. It is a story about sufficiently advanced technology wearing a cloak of magical realism.

Miranda and its people, the avant garde of now banned technology, is facing a winter in which the land is overcome by a great flood in which the dimorphic flora and fauna will burst forth in dazzling transformation. Everything unable to be transported offplanet or secured will be utterly destroye
Dec 28, 2013 Justin rated it it was ok
The Stations of the Tide has some great moments and packs a huge number of ideas and concepts into its pages but where it falls down for me is both in the writing style and clarity of plot which are uneven and awkward. Here Swanwick is most likely being deliberate and you could class this as book that is more artwork then novel. His writing style is hard to read and he makes actions and sequences elusive and disjointed. The characters are quite opaque and little cardboard which makes understandi ...more
Hanne Winter
Jun 22, 2012 Hanne Winter rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm trying to give this book a fair chance, I really am. Swanwick is great at ideas and building this curious world. But it's also deeply awkward and uneven and I can't help but feel this was his first effort, and half of it was written during early puberty. There are so many inexplicable breasts and clumsy sex scenes that I have a hard time taking the MC seriously. A lot of the dialogue, or monologues rather, make me feel like I'm playing a video game where any NPC will speak at great length on ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Chris rated it liked it
Miranda is a tech-backwards planet that has the interesting quality of flooding every 200 years. It's tech-backwards because space-government has put a tech blockade around the planet. A local wizard has broken that blockade with unknown technology from Earth and a space bureaucrat has been sent to retrieve it. Can he survive Miranda? the wizard's magic? the bureaucracy that sent him? And can he complete his mission before the planet floods (of course the planet is about to flood)?

The sci-fi is
Feb 11, 2014 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Swanwick paints a wonderful, immersive, and thoroughly enjoyable vision of humanity's future. Echoes of a dystopian past combine with a frenzied search bring life and urgency to the text that succeeds without bothering to name the protagonist. It has one of the better opening sentences of a novel: (view spoiler). It almost reads like a really really long short story, thrown into a world en media res and the protagonist doesn't expound (much) in p ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Flights of Fantasy: January 2016 - Sci-Fi: Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick 14 23 Jan 11, 2016 06:13PM  
Think Galactic: "Stations" date change 2 8 Jan 06, 2016 07:42AM  
  • The Falling Woman
  • The Healer's War
  • No Enemy but Time
  • The Quantum Rose (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #6)
  • Slow River
  • Rite of Passage
  • The Moon and the Sun
  • The Terminal Experiment
  • The Einstein Intersection
  • A Time of Changes
  • Powers (Annals of the Western Shore, #3)
  • Moving Mars (Queen of Angels, #3)
  • Seeker (Alex Benedict, #3)
  • Camouflage
  • The Claw of the Conciliator (The Book of the New Sun #2)
  • Man Plus
  • On Wings of Song
  • The Year of the Quiet Sun

Share This Book

“The bureaucrat fell from the sky.” 1 likes
“Their business here was over then, and they all knew it; the magic moment had arrived when it was understood that nothing more would be established, discovered, or decided today. But the meeting, having once begun, must drag on for several long more hours before it could be ended. The engines of protocol had enormous inertial mass; once set in motion they took forever to grind to a stop.” 0 likes
More quotes…