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Island in the Sea of Time (Island in the Sea of Time #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  6,226 Ratings  ·  354 Reviews
It's spring on Nantucket and everything is perfectly normal, until a sudden storm blankets the entire island. When the weather clears, the island's inhabitants find that they are no longer in the late twentieth century...but have been transported instead to the Bronze Age! Now they must learn to survive with suspicious, warlike peoples they can barely understand and deal w ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
Published March 1st 1998 by Roc (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jun 27, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is technically fairly well executed, but politically leaves me cross-eyed. Warning for sexual violence, weird race issues, and general ookiness. In order to discuss it, first, an overview of the plot:

One spring night, the island of Nantucket (with several miles of coastal waters) is inexplicably transported into the bronze age. Luckily for the islanders, the coastal waters include a Coast Guard ship, the Eagle, and her captain, Black lesbian Marian Alston, who is plenty competent to or
Kat  Hooper
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

After a strange electrical storm, the residents of Nantucket discover that their entire island and its surrounding waters have been sent back to 1300 B.C. Now this society, which is mostly based on a tourist economy, must figure out how to establish a new identity in prehistory. This includes clearing and farming land, building ships, finding new sources of fuel, salt, and other necessities, and most difficult of all, developing a constitution and befriend
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is probably a pretty good book within the subgenre of time-travel/alternate-history, but that is damning with faint praise. There are so many pitfalls that have to be avoided that it usually isn't worth bothering to open the book.

(The only one I can recommend: Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. If you'll settle for just alternate-history, try the incredible The Man in the High Castle, or for just time-travel, maybe the almost-incredible Doomsday Book.)

The biggest problem her
Nick (
May 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
A painful book to read for a number of reasons. For a liberal guy, you would think S.M. Stirling would be a little less weird (and that's the best way I can describe it - WEIRD) in how he portrays and handles his minority and gay characters. I couldn't get into the story at any time because I kept being distracted by his over-descriptions of what a black person would be interested in, look like, etc. At one point he even describes one of the main character's hair as "nappy". It sort of reminded ...more
May 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: masochists
In a word, terrible.

In several words, racist, sexist, and just problematic in more ways than one.

The ones concerned about having supremely negative effects on the current civilizations are the ones that are delusional, incompetent, and lead to failure.

The sole mentioned Asian-American character is a woman who gets her rocks off by torturing people.

The black woman who is in charge of the coast guard people stranded with the island and is part of the closest thing they have to a military is a le
Wow. I had this book on my to-read shelf for some time as I'd heard it was a good alt history book but I never got around to reading it til one of my book clubs picked it as a series read. And I'm glad I finally read it.

A fascinating, thrilling story of an incident which send the island of Nantucket, MA, USA (plus a sailing vessel of the Coast Guard) back in time to around 1250 BC. The affected having to come to terms with the loss of everyone and everything they once knew and learn to live in t
Sarah Anne
This book puzzles me. The pacing is excellent, the action is quite frequent, the characters get into every conceivable terrible situation that could happen if you landed in 1250 BC, and yet I can only say that "I liked it" and not that "I really liked it". I feel like this should be a four star book. I would chalk it up to a bad mood but there's that little problem that I'm not in a bad mood... Also, I read this maybe five years ago and I ditched it around 75%. So apparently it's not the here an ...more
Sep 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fantasy or History lovers
Shelves: fantasy
I loved this book, and the two that followed in the trilogy.

Quick synopsis - the island of Nantucket (and a wooden Coast Guard ship) are mysteriously whisked back in time several thousand years.

The only reason I didn't give this one five stars is that Stirling gets a bit carried away with some of the more ... unsavory sexual behavior of some of his characters. This seems to be a consistent trend of his in most of his books. He can't seem to write plain old vanilla sex - his sex scenes are eith
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fish-in-the-sea
I give credit to Stirling for making such an accurate time travel story and for clearly doing his research, making it as realistic as possible. However, that's one of the only satisfactions I received. Eventually said research became overbearing, and instead of letting his readers learn and come to understand the world through the lives of their characters he resorted to info-dumping in excruciating detail, and often in the most annoying places. There would be numerous times in the middle of cha ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Chak by: Claire
I was completely hooked by the plot, but the writing and character development brought the rating down a few points. The Island of Nantucket (with all of the people, buildings, ships and technology within a certain radius) was mysteriously sent back in time to the year 1200 B.C. The most interesting parts of the book for me were the efforts to form a government and society and provide continued sustenance and safety of the people. Stirling reasoned through all of this very well, and when he stuc ...more
E. Kahn
May 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
For a guy who makes such a point of writing characters against stereotypes, S.M. Stirling sure writes a lot ethnic stereotypes. Seriously, this thing reads like a collaboration between Andrea Dworkin and Sax Rohmer.

I have a lot to say about the plot, but honestly that would apply to the genre as a whole. If you think a bunch of modern first worlders with a representative (and extremely unlikely) cross-section of skills and understanding of modern technology inexplicably go back in time to impose
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish this book; I kept trying but gave up about 4/5 of the way through. The characters weren't engaging, the options of dealing with native populations were not adequately explored while at the same time patting itself on the back for doing just that. Some of the characterizations were undeveloped and occasionally offensive.

Mostly I just found the whole situation not worth reading about. My review may be a little biased because I have decided that this genre is probably not my thin
Jennifer Connolly
Feb 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed, 2009
When you start rooting for the bad guys to kill everyone else, you know something's gone wrong. I found this book intensely annoying.
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adventure
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have been rereading old favorites this summer, and I am happy to say that most of them are as enjoyable as I remembered. This one was filed in my mind as a swashbuckling adventure in time travel. I recalled it as being super engaging, keeping my nose firmly in the book through a long and eventful weekend of travel. Well, my memories were accurate and I can still say that nobody does it better than S.M. Stirling. In this one, he moves the island of Nantucket from now into the Bronze Age. The in ...more
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Disappointing. I loved the premise of this book (modern Americans sent back in time, need to cope and rebuild society) but the sex and race stuff was just ick, and the violence was unappealing. I found the rape scenes really disturbing and wish they had not been included. While Stirling is great at thinking through the hows of this situation, some of his characters and scenes are so hard to take that I ended up skimming whole sections. I appreciate that the leads were not all straight white men, ...more
3.5 stars. Excellent, if you like Swiss Family Robinson and Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court-type stories. Well-researched and told.

But it was all too quick and too easy. Yeah, there was a big conflict of sorts, but everything worked too well for even the renegade "Islanders." But isn't that the style of these back-to-the-past stories?

Fun read. Not great literature. Hardly even credible, despite all the research Stirling apparently did.

Heavy-handed negative stereotypes among secondary
Jan 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Despite having the same rating and similar a premise, I actually liked this book more than 1632 by Eric Flint.

I liked the fact that Nantucket stayed in the same geographical location. Moving West Virginia to Germany to put them in the middle of the action was a plot device that annoyed me.

All in all, this feels like a more realistic take on the idea of a town moving back in time. Relatively speaking, I mean. And its missing a lot of that overzealous American patriotism that became so annoying
Nov 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
1 star might be a little harsh, but I can't remember the last time I've hated the way an author went with a book as I did with Island. It starts off strong but then the antagonist is the one with the concept of how to deal with the situation and the protaganists are just annoying do-gooders that should be doomed to failure because they just don't get it. I had really looked forward to reading this, but it was a big disappointment; now I have the sequel on my shelf just taking space for the fores ...more
hCharles Obert
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tend to find historic fiction and alternate universe story lines to be enjoyable... This book provides a solid story that is plausible (in that it cannot be proven or disproved by our level of science) but with expected sociological and psychological patterns that give us a good look at our base nature.
In a land of blind, a one eyed man is king kind of thing and if the right person is in the right place at the right time.
I'll be reading the other books in this series and have also read the oth
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Another excellent offering from S.M. Stirling. "Island" is technically in the "Change" novels universe, but the stories are entirely separate because the premise goes that just before our world was thrown back into the dark ages by a sudden change in the laws of physics, the island of Nantucket was actually physically transported back in time to about 1250 BC. (This is alluded to in the second "Change" trilogy when an expedition finds pre-Columbian Indians living on Nantucket somewhere around 20 ...more
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
The premise was interesting and I liked the characters but, something was missing. There is a more than enough detail on how things work or are built, etc. but the writing never felt electric or moving in the way that great authors do. I don't expect every writer to be great but, if it's going to be a novel of ideas and conjecture, the writing style and prose should have passages that really strike deep. If it's going to be an adventure, chase, fight, survive, then it has to have more forward mo ...more
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a good swash-buckling adventure story. The island of Nantucket is suddenly swept into the year 1250 BCE, along with the Coast Guard vessel "Eagle" which happens to be sailing nearby. While the storyline is good, it is too predictable. Soon after each main character is introduced, it is all too obvious how that character would be faring in the story.

Apart from the small reserves held on Nantucket from before the time switch, petro-chemicals are not available. Therefore, electricity and mo
Dmitri Poletaev
For me personally Stirling’s “Island in the Sea of Time” was kind of “life changing” event. I was always torn apart between my two passions, my love of SF and History. Finally, it all merged nicely in an exciting and very “philosophical” read. I don’t want scare any adventure-seeking type of readers by the word “philosophical”. O, yeah! All the adventures are in there, baby! What I mean is this simple. When you are creating your own World, or in case of S. M. Stirling, re-creating it, you cannot ...more
Gerald Curtis
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was my first attempt with this author. The premise was intriguing - a freak storm that transports an entire island community back in time over 3000 years. I thought that part was done really well and I very much enjoyed vicariously experiencing the dilemma and reactions of the many well-portrayed characters.

I thought I had found a new author to treasure.

But then the story line deteriorated into an endlessly tedious portrayal of how the many, many things were solved that had to be solved if
Julie Craig-muller
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I agree with some of the previous reviewers that the sex and race stuff "was just ick." Good way to put it. The good characters were really really noble, and the evil characters were totally demonic, torturing and killing for fun. The survival aspect was moderately interesting in the beginning, but the (boring) battle stuff and evil characters increased as the book progressed. I didn't need the graphic rape, killing, fighting scenes by the predictably despicable, one-dimensional characters. Why ...more
Benjamin Newland
Jun 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads
OK, I think I've got it figured out. The last book I read (The Sunrise Lands) is the first book in the second trilogy in the second series of "The Change" novels. This book is the first of the first of the first. It's confusing, and a more detailed list of books by series inside the front cover would have been appreciated, publisher!

Anyways, I liked this one, but didn't love it. The premise is very interesting, the characters good, the actions/battle scenes particularly well written. For me, wha
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Stirling has a style that tends to grow on you. Several books have been written about the possible outcomes of suddenly finding ourselves in the stone age without any 21st century technology. Stirling does this well in the Change series. This side series of the Change novels, posits the opposite of that question, what if we found ourselves in an early period of development, with all the knowledge, skills and resources we have now? Characters are well developed when you take into account the wide ...more
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book had/has the potential to get bogged down in the details. Part of the whole alternate history/time travel allure is everything we take for granted in the modern world that doesn't exist in this setting. The down side is that you can get lost in describing all the re-invention you have to do to the detriment of the story. Stirling rides a pretty good line creating a story with drama that you want to keep reading and having the speculative details add to the story.

One of the main charac
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Stephen Michael Stirling is a French-born Canadian-American science fiction and fantasy author. Stirling is probably best known for his Draka series of alternate history novels and the more recent time travel/alternate history Nantucket series and Emberverse series.

(personal website: source)

I’m a writer by trade, born in France but Canadian by origin and American by naturalizat
More about S.M. Stirling...

Other Books in the Series

Island in the Sea of Time (3 books)
  • Against the Tide of Years (Nantucket, #2)
  • On the Oceans of Eternity (Nantucket, #3)

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