Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Annotated STATIONS OF THE TIDE (Part 1)


Tor Books has reissued what may be my most popular ever novel (unless it's The Iron Dragon's Daughter)--which is Stations of the Tide as part of their Tor Essentials line. To celebrate and, let's be honest, ruthlessly promote this event, I am now beginning a necessarily incomplete annotation of the novel. I'll be serializing it for as long as it seems to be helping sales. And then I'll stop, long before completion.

So if you want more, you should rush right out and buy my book. Not because I need the money. But because you crave the annotations.

And here they are:

A Brief and (Alas) Simplistic Annotation of Stations of the Tide Which Includes Information Only the Author Could Provide But Necessarily Omits Far More Than It Includes:

Page 1:

The bureaucrat: When I determined to write this book but had not written a word of it, I asked Marianne Porter, my wife, what she would like me to include in it. She said, “A bureaucrat who is competent and doing a necessary job.” It is no coincidence that she fit that description. Everything else in the novel followed after.

Port Richmond: Stations of the Tide takes place in what is primarily the Virginia Tidewater with touches of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The fact that the city is named Port Richmond indicates that Miranda was colonized when the Tidewater was submerged.

heliostat: A hybrid airship/helicopter aircraft.

Page 2:

technology control: I once worked in technology Transfer for the Franklin Institute Research Laboratories. Our job was to encourage people to integrate solar energy into their homes. Technology control is many steps beyond that, into coercion.

Page 3:

the Stone House: An easy analogue for the White House.

Request for Authority: Again, an easy analogue for RFPs—Requests for Proposals. This was the US government offering a grant for a very specific project. I worked in Proposals for the Franklin Research Center (FRC was for-profit, where FIRL was nonprofit) and filed many an RFP in my time.

Page 4:

the Leviathan: An oblique reference to Moby-Dick, not that I expected anyone to get it.

Ocean: There is only one continent (never named, but we can make an educated guess) in Miranda and only one ocean. In ancient times, the waters beyond the Gates of Hercules were thought to be one world-circling sea and named Ocean. Today they are the Atlantic.

the Puzzle Palace: This name was originally given by its denizens to the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, MD. It was later also applied to the Health and Welfare building in Harrisburg, PA. Marianne worked for the Bureau of Laboratories within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health and dreaded being summoned to the Puzzle Palace.

Oh, and if this makes you want to buy my Nebula Award-winning novel, you should immediately contact your local independent bookstore. But if your town is so cruel as to deny you one, you can find it on Amazon here.



Henry Farrell said...

Chatting to Stan about the origins of Icehenge for this - - made me think that it would be fun one day to look at the different ways in which Icehenge, Celestis and Stations of the Tide argue with or remake aspects of Fifth Head.

Michael Swanwick said...

Well, the haunts are definitely related to Gene's abos. No getting around that.

Raskos said...

Will we be hearing anything about the Laserfields Academy?

Michael Swanwick said...

Yes, though not a great deal.

Kevin said...

I loved that you never gave the Bureaucrat a name, beyond his job. What drove your decision to leave him nameless?

Christopher T. Wilkerson said...

I feel like I should already know the answer to this question if I dare to call myself a fan, but alas, I am not yet the best fan I could be: did you ever set any other stories and/or novels in the same world/system/cosmos as Miranda & the bureaucracy of the Puzzle Palace?

Michael Swanwick said...

Kevin, in the Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea, there is a character who talks about nameless heroes and specifically Clint Eastwood's character in High Plains Drifter, concluding, "He has no name because he is Death." That struck me as an apt subtext and a good way of keeping the bureaucrat's personality central in my mind.

Michael Swanwick said...

Christopher, no I have not. There's always been another world, another situation I wanted to visit. And, honestly, having three series (the Iron Dragon book, the Darger & Surplus adventures, and the Mongolian Wizard stories) seemed more than enough for one writer.

Christopher T. Wilkerson said...

Thank you so much for your reply ~ that makes a lot of sense! And, to me, it makes the world/setting of Miranda more poignant, even more beautiful, for its uniqueness. Again, thank you.