Nina Allan's The Silver Wind was published by Eibonvale Press in September 2011.
Here's a description of The Silver Wind:
Martin Newland is fascinated by the nature of time. Watches and clocks are for him metaphorical time machines, a secret means of coming to terms with his clouded past and voyaging forward into the future. But was his first timepiece a Smith, given to him on his fourteenth birthday, or the Longines he received as a present four years later? Was it the small brass travelling clock unearthed in a run-down house for which he is to act as estate agent? Who is the maker of these time machines? Clues abound but contradict each other: was it an ex-seaside circus performer, or a "miracle dwarf" engaged in a government project to subvert the course of time into parallel realities? As Martin pursues these mysteries, is he haunted by the spirit of his dead brother, or by the death of his beloved sister? The answer to all these questions is yes.
A complication is the description a watch-maker gives to any extra feature added to a clock or watch that goes beyond the simple display of time, and The Silver Wind is a book of complications. Nina Allan has constructed a remarkable and original narrative in which five separate segments of story interlock and interweave like the perfectly honed cogs of a watch mechanism. Time, memory, love, hope and regret all complicate Martin's quest for the truth. In the implied spaces and overlaps between these five moments in time the reader is granted a mysteriously enriching vision of the everyday world.
A REVIEW OF THE SILVER WIND
The Silver Wind is the first short story collection that I've read from Nina Allan and it definitely won't be the last, because she's a great and talented writer. Earlier I read one of her stories (Bellony in the Blind Swimmer anthology) and I liked it very much, so I had high hopes for this collection. All my hopes were fulfilled, because The Silver Wind is a fantastic collection.
The Silver Wind is a short, but complicated collection of five interlinking science fiction stories. The stories are:
- Time's Chariot
- My Brother's Kee per
- The Silver Wind
- Timelines: An Afterword
The main characters are Martin and Andrew Owen/Owen Andrews, who is called "The Circus Man" by Martin's sister Dora. He's a mysterious watchmaker, who has been involved in a government project to manipulate time.
The Silver Wind is a short masterpiece about love, loss and clocks, but it's also much more than that. The stories form a challenging and unusual reading experience. The author explores mainstream and science fiction elements from different viewpoints in these five stories and allows the reader a chance to wonder what's going on, because there are several similarities between the stories, but the details and events are slightly different.
Here's a bit of information about the stories:
- The first story, Time's Chariot, is an achingly beautiful story about Martin and his sister, Dora (Martin loves his sister very much). Martin loses his sister and misses her. I loved this story, because it was beautifully written and touching.
- My Brother's Kee per is also a story about Martin, but in this story Martin has lost his brother instead of a sister. Martin sees his dead brother and he tells Martin hidden and secret things. It was interesting to read how Martin reacted to the news about his mother.
- The Silver Wind is basically a story about Owen Andrews and his involvement in the secret project, but it's also a story about Martin, who seeks out Owen Andrews in order to reunite with his dead wife, Miranda. (Although this story is science fiction, it contains a horror element.)
- Rewind is a story about Martin and Miranda. In previous stories Miranda has been a minor character, but now she becomes a major character.
- Timelines: An Afterword is the shortest story, but it offers a fascinating literary point of view to certain things and it's totally different from the previous stories.
The most interesting thing about this collection is that at first it's a bit difficult to say if Martin is always the same Martin in each story, but when you read the stories carefully you'll notice that each Martin is different and lives in an alternate universe/timeline. These characters feel the same, but they're different (and they have different lives). Because Nina Allan writes about alternate universes and timelines, the same characters, names and places occur in each story, but something is always different. This creates a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere, which adds dramatic, but fascinating weirdness to the collection.
Three stories (Time's Chariot, My Brother's Keeper and The Silver Wind) were published earlier, but the last two stories are new stories. It's possible to read each story separately, but if you read them separately, you'll only get partial glimpses into the lives of the characters. When put together, these stories form an intriguing study of timelines and alternate universes and everything begins to make sense.
I know that what I've written about these stories may sound strange, but when you think about the events and the characters, all the small details are there for a reason. It's possible that some people may interpret and analyze the events of these stories differently, but that's the beauty of them. The author has written stories, which invite versatile analyzation, because each reader may have his/her own opinions about the events.
The Silver Wind is one of those collections in which the quality of writing is as close to quality mainstream literature as possible. Nina Allan writes fluently about the feelings of the characters and doesn't shy away from difficult themes. For example, she writes unflichingly about the unusual relationship and sexual attraction between Martin and Dora.
Nina Allan is clearly an author to watch, because she has her own unique writing style and she dares to try different kinds of storytelling techniques. The Silver Wind is a powerful and thought-provoking collection of science fiction stories, which can be recommended to readers who are interested in intelligent and philosophical science fiction. The Silver Wind is one of the best short story collections I've read this year, because it makes its reader think about things. I'm sure that everybody who likes literary and thought-provoking science fiction will love this collection.