Read the FSFFU listserv Book Discussion Group discussion of Ammonite (3/98, 220K)
Frances Lorien van de Oest, or Lore, is the youngest daughter of a powerful and wealthy family who have made their vast fortune manufacturing microbes used in waste water treatment and recycling plants around the world. Lore is kidnapped, held for a ransom that is never paid, and eventually dumped naked and injured in a dark & cold alley in an unfamiliar European city. The kidnappers have removed Lore's identification chip implant, and without it Lore has no identity and cannot exist in this near future urban society.
Lore is rescued by Spanner, a callous 'data pirate', who provides her with a new identity;introduces her to the murky realms of the subculture she inhabits, the various scams she devises; and becomes her lover. Lore works with Spanner to repay her indebtedness, until she realises she is losing her integrity and has to make a choice. She finds a job working night-shift in a waste water treatment plant, and must try to disguise the fact that she understands more about the plant than her immediate superiors. The unprincipled night manager is cutting costs without considering the drastic consequences any changes made to the delicately balanced eco-technology will have. The build up to the impending catastrophe is suspenseful and dramatic, the detailed description Griffith gives of the plant, the individuals who work there and the technology tangibly graphic.
Throughout Slow River with it's multi overlapping layers, Griffith uses her skill and vivid imagery to draw the reader into the story. It's impossible not to be drawn into the flow, as she reveals Lore's past layer by layer and allows the Van de Oest family to emerge and surface, finally revealing themselves as naked and as blemished as Lore was in the opening sentences of the book. She has with Slow River proven once again what a formidable talent she has, crafting together this book so that the reader sees the layers of the story appear, each layer colouring and informing the next, and each one changing the colour of what's underneath.
Let the heart of this story: the river running through it, carry you on a journey with Lore as she redefines who she is, who she has been, and must ultimately decide who she is going to be. The richly textured journey of Slow River, with it's underlying tows and currents, will take you through many places: some that are lonely and dark; some reeking of corruption and malice; some intensely erotic; some that will leave you wondering what the future holds for all of us, and throughout you will sense the river, whispering or torrential, putrid or pristine, menacing or irresistible.
Slow River tied with Melissa Scott's Shadowman for the 1996 Lambda Award. Also won the Nebula Award (4/24/97).
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updated 06/13/07 .