February Books 14) The Islanders, by Christopher Priest
I'm on a steady upward track with the BSFA nominees. Though presented as a gazetteer of islands in the Dream Archipelago, where time swirls and nomenclature is unstable, there is actually a story, or several stories, here, dotted across the spots of land separated by the ocean. I found it very satisfying: the artist who sculpts tunnels into the islands to make them sing in the wind, the mime artist killed by a mysteriously dropped pane of glass, the writer who somehow writes the preface to a work which describes his own demise and funeral, the venomous scorpion-like creatures which are never spoken of, the educator, the randy artist, all with parts of their narrative here, there and hidden. At first I was inclined to be a little grumpy about whether or not this is actually a novel, but it looks more like a novel than, say, Tristram Shandy (not setting the bar terribly high, I admit). I really liked this, and Embassytown will have to be really impressive to beat it on my BSFA ballot.