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Salt

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  537 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Salt is a crystal compound of Sodium and Chlorine; faceted and transparent. Simple and pure. What life could there be without salt? It is known as God's diamond, by which we should be aware of the infinite variability of scale for the divine perspective. Every grain is a landscape, a world.

And us? We are fragile. We dissolve in immensity like salt in water.

And after thir
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Paperback, 248 pages
Published October 2001 by Gollancz (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  537 ratings  ·  42 reviews


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Nicky
Mar 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Salt is an interesting sort of book; it does have a plot, but really the central point is not the setting (the planet Salt) or background, though we do see that, but a clash between two different ideologies. Roberts handles it pretty cleverly: as soon as you find yourself sympathising with one side, they do something awful. The voices are clever, too — more Barlei than Petja, because he reveals who he is and his self-satisfied, propagandist agenda with every word. I could never quite sympathise ...more
Roddy Williams
‘We are fragile. We dissolve in immensity like salt in water.

And after thirty-seven years of travel through the vastness of space we arrived on the planet Salt. And we took Heaven and Hell with us.

SALT is the story of a planetary colonisation that slips into a tragedy of biblical proportions. United by the dream of a new beginning, isolated in a landscape of cruel majesty, the two communities who went to Salt were torn apart by ancient enmities.’

Blurb from the 2001 Gollancz paperback edition.

An
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Will Sheppard
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
I found this in a charity shop when I was supposed to be shopping for Christmas presents.

Pretty awesome! A rich depiction of two opposing cultures (Religious and Anarchist communism) against a sci-fi background.
Adam Floridia
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked this up at a used book store probably over a decade ago for about a dollar. After that time, the book was summarily ignored and actually lay in the basement collecting dust. When planning my trip to the world's largest salt flats, I happened to remember the book and decided that it would be perfect for my photo-ops. It turned out to be a perfect book for my vacation as a whole.

I don't read much sci-fi, so it's hard for me to know what is considered normal for the genre. Regardless, I am
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Sandro Đurić
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Since there are so few reviews on this book, I thought of writing this one as it won't dissolve in immensity like salt in water.

Salt is a book that is a sort of a record of a conflict between two, fundamentally different and conflicting ideologies. Note that "record" is an almost perfect term for this - the book was written in a report-like manner from the perspective of two individuals, each of them siding with a different extreme in this conflict. As proof that I've actually read the book, the
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St Fu
Feb 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I read this because, after finishing The Thing Itself and finding it interesting, goodreads reviews said Salt was better. It's not. It's worse. But having given Thing 3 stars, I would then have to give Salt 2 and it's better than 2. But if I manage to read through to the end of something I feel a book deserves a 3 for that alone.

Look at me hoarding my star ratings like a citizen of Senaar! I was rooting for the Alsists all along, for despite their Cartesian isolated minds, I could groove on the
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Liviu
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: genre-sf, read_2011
The debut of Adam Roberts which I've had for many years but never found the mood to read; a dark and somewhat depressing novel written in alternate first person narrations from two very different pov's - with an exception at the end that adds a lot - and who resembles an extreme take on The Dispossessed.

A very good debut that presages the awesome later novels of Adam Roberts that made him one of the best current sf writers
Danyel Lawson
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Self aggrandizement, war, and the eternal(never ending) struggle for self determination as a exercise in wasted resources and narcissistic madness.
Joanne
An interesting story written mainly from the perspective of Barlei, leader (a.k.a. dictator) of the hierarchical and deeply religious Senaarians and Petja, a representative Als, an anarchistic society that rejects hierarchy . Following the long journey from Earth and colonisation of Salt tensions (for lack of a better word) have built up between Senaar and the Als and war has broken out with heavy losses on both sides.

Light on sci-fi, heavy on ideology; it is easy to draw parallels between confl
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Martin Rundkvist
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This fine, inventive and engaging tale of conflict among groups of interstellar colonists on the planet Salt suffers from an inconsistent narrative perspective. It is told in the first person, past tense, almost entirely by two people. But the author has not had a clear idea of where and when they are when telling their stories.

In the first half of the book, they both speak dispassionately and from a great distance in time, apparently two fairly serene old people commenting on things that happen
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Eric Lawton
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've read this before. When I first read it, I then binge-read all his books. He's written some more then so I've added to my list.

It is set for the first few chapters on an interstellar ark heading to a distant planet, then the rest when they have arrived. The ark has several colonies on board, each on their own ship behind a comet that is both shield and supplies.

It tells the story of two of those, one which is hierarchical and militaristic and religious, the other anarchical, told through the
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Jobeda
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gutted to give Adam 3 stars, loved everything else he's written. This novel is ok but just not what I expected. It's not about the new world and terraforming and creating new ways of living. It is anthropology in the way a novel about settling a new world would be except that it's about the existing ideology that is imported from the old world. That wouldn't be a bad thing is most of the story wasn't just one single war. And then it ended quite abruptly.
Duncan
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
While this book doesn't go to a super-strange setting as his other books usually do, it does go into the mind of deeply politically different people. One of the characters I liked and the other one I actively detested. I think the idea was that as a reader, I was supposed to become sympathetic to him but I never did. So it was a hard go.
Sharon
May 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Could have been better. Basically ships leave earth to colonise a planet that is pretty hostile. They are different people religions and tribes etc in each different ship. They land and the most regimented society and the most free society eventually go to war on misunderstandings.
Bit too philosophical for me. Couldn't warm to the characters or the planet.
Matthew
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the space travel/colonization and political aspects but I got bogged down in the MilSF of the latter chapters. So overall not my cup of tea but Roberts still tells a compelling human story with some hard science aspects tossed in, so kudos for that. Look forward to reading more of his stuff.
Ian
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loses a star for not being "The Dispossessed"
Uses unreliable narration to explore Terrorism V Freedom Fighting , and the barbed nature of imperialism. There's a spectacularly unpleasant rape scene which adds little.
Tim
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
You could write a really interesting hard sci novel on this premise. Or you could write a fairly mundane bit of unreliable narrator drama. Ideally you'd do both and not just the latter.
Chris
May 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
I've seen this done better
Michael Trimmer
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was Adam Robert's debut novel, and probably the first serious SF novel that I ever read. It opened my mind to the world of other universes, galaxies, star systems, planets and vistas that SF can really display.

I was, overall, very impressed with it. The multiple first person narrative was something that was both extremely clever as a plot device and engaging as a narrative flow feature. While not massively original in itself, it definitely fits well into the idea that the book is all about.
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Bill
Dec 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dark-Draco
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a strange little novel - the story of the colonisation of a planet that is saturated in salt. Two very different communities are sent there. One militaristic, hierachal and with a strict economic base. The other communal, free living and with few rules. Trouble starts on the journey out and soon escalates to all out war once planet fall is made.There isn't all that much of a story as such, more of a journal type narrative by the nominal 'leaders' of both sides. Fascinating though, as eac ...more
L
Aug 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi
If I had known where this was going, I'd have abandoned it early on. What appeared to be the premise was interesting. Multiple communities/nations are on their way to settle a planet that seems promising. The story is built around two of these "nations," one anarchist (the Alsists), in which people take turns doing the work that needs doing, and one strictly orderly (the Senaarians), in which everything--including the ability to vote in elections--has a price. The planet, Salt, is not as promise ...more
Macha
Aug 26, 2016 added it
his first book. i figured out at last why i have trouble with this guy: it's because he's not really writing sf, but rather mainstream fiction set arbitrarily in the future; and yes, there's a huge difference in the result. this one is actually about the middle east, just barely disguised as two quarrelling groups of settlers arrived on a new desert planet. there's the rich, authoritarian technological culture, and there's the very poor, anarchic culture of dreamers, and guess who's gonna win. b ...more
Josh
Jun 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
I am always on the lookout for a sci-fi book that doesn't drive me crazy. and there only seems to be two options in this genre for me. torturous and excellent. (I guess that means if it's not great, it's hell). And this was really bitchen almost all the way through (of course there has to be a caveat). Two totally different cultures alone cultivating a new life on a new planet made only of salt. The story is told in first person alternating between two people from each culture as they eek there ...more
Joshua
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What does this book have? Answer: intrigue, satire, lust, irony, pain, love, hatred, and characters that are very well developed. What does this book not have? Answer: A satisfying ending, much like his other books that I've read (e.g., On, The Snow, Yellow Blue Tibia). I love the premises of his books that are each outlandish and keep your brain pondering the possibilities, but the endings? This book was so great, such a unique set of perspectives from the two characters, yet how it ended left ...more
Alistair
May 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Sci Fi with a philosophical twist? Disparate communities of Earthlings settle a new world.
The story is told through the "reports/recollections" of 2 people (mainly) from different communities.
One group are hierarchical, disciplined, capitalistic, militaristic, very religious, the other is anarchic, almost communist/socialist but both fundamentalist and so firmly set in their ways that they can neither understand or even really communicate with the other.
It was of 'variable' quality but did raise
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Dan
Jul 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
An excellent riff on the themes Le Guin explored in The Dispossessed - but here there is no convenient interplanetary gulf to keep our anarchists apart. They must live next door to the statists, and they must do it in some of the harshest environmental conditions ever imagined. This is a colony story. This is a political fable. This is a desert story. This is an allegory for the crisis in Palestine. This is a sad, sad book.
Henry Gamble
I quite enjoyed this book, minus the constant references made to God, but I feel as though there were a few things missing that could have been elaborated upon to provide more depth to the overall story. The ending though . . . i don't even know what to say in this regard. It ends; and I am not satisfied by the way in which it does. I feel as though it's too ambiguous, too sudden, and feel cheated. Well worth the read though if you are interested in interstellar colonisation.
Chris
Dec 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a fine piece of world building but a less accomplished display of character building.

A story of conflict on an alien world told from the perspective of characters on either side of the divide.

Neither character grabbed me and neither really rang true as an individual for me. The world built is an interesting one however.
Mitchell
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
A new author for me. This was kind of an odd read. Basically a character study of two leaders of two very different governments settling a lackluster planet. Definitely more of a Nebula style book rather than a Hugo. I'll be interested to see what else this author can do.
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Adam Roberts (born 1965) is an academic, critic and novelist. He also writes parodies under the pseudonyms of A.R.R.R. Roberts, A3R Roberts and Don Brine. He also blogs at The Valve, a group blog devoted to literature and cultural studies.

He has a degree in English from the
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