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SF Masterwork of the Week: Slow River

The hand I had dipped in the river was drying. It itched. I rubbed the web between my thumb and forefinger, the scar there. Tomorrow, if all went well, if Ruth would help me one last time, a tadpole-sized implant would be placed under the scar. And I would become someone else. Again. Only this time I hoped it would be permanent. Next time I dipped my hand in the river it would be as someone legitimate, reborn three years after arriving naked and nameless in the city.

And so begins Nicola Griffith‘s 1995 novel, Slow River, a compelling tale of power, privilege, manipulation, betrayal and the fluidity of identity in the 21st century.

She awoke in an alley to the splash of rain. She was naked, a foot-long gash in her back was still bleeding, and her identity implant was gone. Lore van de Oest had been the daughter of one of the world’s most powerful families . . . and now she was nobody, and she had to hide.

Then out of the rain walked Spanner, predator and thief, who took her in, cared for her wound, and taught her how to reinvent herself again and again. No one could find Lore now: not the police, not her family, and not the kidnappers who had left her in that alley to die. She had escaped . . . but the cost of her new found freedom was crime and deception, and she paid it over and over again, until she had become someone she loathed . . .

Slow River won the Lambda Award in 1996 and the Nebula Award for best novel in 1997 and, building on the Lambda and James Tiptree Jr Award-winning success of her debut novel Ammonite, confirmed Nicola Griffith as a powerful new voice in science fiction. Both books are available as SF Masterworks paperbacks and SF Gateway eBooks.

Slow River paperback | eBook
Ammonite paperback | eBook

Read more about Nicola Griffith at her author entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.