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1 Burnside Science Fiction and Fantasy- A to Z



Shaman Cover

ISBN13: 9780316098076
ISBN10: 0316098078
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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The Lost Entwife, October 3, 2013 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
Let's talk about survival for a moment before I get into this review of Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson. No, I'm not talking about the reality television show - I'm talking about honest-to-goodness survival. Think about this scenario. You are a young man or woman, it's freezing cold - arctic even, you have no supplies, no clothing, no anything - just you and your naked body. Now, take that image and place it in the middle of the wilderness where you have to survive until the brand new moon has reached its full point. Do you have that image placed firmly in your mind? If you have absolutely no idea what you would do in such a situation then you need to pick this book up and find out how Loon, the protagonist of Shaman, copes with that impossible situation.

I could not put down Shaman for the first 50 pages or so. Not even to eat or to take care of normal, everyday chores and needs. I buried my nose in the book and emerged only when Loon finishes the first of many journeys held in the pages of Shaman. Robinson has thought of everything for that first portion of the book, and just when you think you will walk away from it amazed and intrigued, he hits you with one small fact. Just a small one and I'm telling you - my mind was blown.

Shaman is the story not only of survival on his own, but also Loon's coming-of-age story as he becomes the Wolf Tribe's newest shaman. He dreams, paints, listens, loves, learns, and explores. He watches older wiser, and not so much wiser, men of his tribe (a tribe that is matriarchal, interestingly enough) and learns by watching the dysfunctional marriage of his mentor and the wise woman of the tribe.

Although it's fairly long (and that's my only complaint about the book - it's very long and very little actually happens through quite a few of the portions), Loon's journey is interesting enough to hold the readers attention. There's adventure and crime between tribes that throws some spice into the story and I put down the book feeling satisfied at where the characters were when everything was tended to and the stories wrapped up.

Overall, Shaman was a very satisfying read and an interesting one - having a setting I've never experienced before and, although there was some unfamiliar jargon, it was easy to understand. Speaking of jargon - I did have trouble with some of the phrases used by the characters in the book. I can't imagine a paleolithic-era woman saying "mama mia" ... but then, who knows? It's not distracting enough to take away from the value of the story.

So if you are looking for something totally different and not-quite-hardcore science fiction that also combines a great coming-of-age story and survival techniques, then look no further. Robinson's epic story will give you something to talk about for quite some time.
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qharwan, September 5, 2013 (view all comments by qharwan)
Shaman reconciles the present with the past, creates a connection between our descendants and ourselves. All you have to do is put yourself in Loon's place. Try to vividly imagine his all-consuming misery, and the equally consuming moments of small pleasures. Feel the cold on your flesh, the thud of your spear in the flank of a bison.
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Product Details

Robinson, Kim Stanley
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:

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Shaman Used Hardcover
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$8.50 In Stock
Product details pages Orbit - English 9780316098076 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Robinson (2312) makes a shift from near-future SF to prehistorical fiction with this entertaining but slight ice-age bildungsroman. Loon, a young man on the verge of adulthood, marks his birthday by surviving alone in the wild for two weeks. Returning to his 'pack,' he learns various practical and artistic skills. He's often as rebellious as he is studious, and as driven by teen hormones as any contemporary teen hero (using prehistoric safe-sex methods to avoid sowing his wild oats), but he matures when he falls in love with Elga, a girl from another pack. After their love leads to her pregnancy, they encounter complications that could drive them from Loon's pack and his friends. Robinson creates a rich world, but there's not much new (or much at all, really) in the underlying story, which is predictable right down to the final line. Fans of the author's smooth prose and intense research will find enough of both, but the book is far outclassed by both Robinson's earlier works and other prehistory novels. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Robinson's expert world building and lyrical prose offer Jack London-esque pleasures as they depict the stark beauties of the icy landscape — it's desolation, dangers and the desperate choices it forces people to make when pushed to the edge of existence. Richly detailed."
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