9 thoughts on “The Silver Wind – Nina Allan

  1. This is the only book I bought at Chester Fantasycon a couple of weeks ago, because I knew I would not be able to get this edition of it anywhere else. I had vowed not to buy any books there, but simply see what books I might want to buy later. I then briefly met this author there, without expecting to do so, after buying it. I had met her a couple of times in the past. I did not have the book with me at the time of this new meeting. Paradoxically, having now read the first story, I think it right that I was not able to get it signed there and then. It would have hamstrung the book as something freewheeling in time, I guess.

    7D1B67AD-32AD-4675-97ED-956CFA615562TIME’S CHARIOT

    “I never set much store by birthdays. I disliked the fuss and bother on account of something you had no say in.”

    This is a simply great story, perhaps not great as great literature is great, but it might in hindsight be that great as well.
    About Martin as narrator, and his slightly younger sister Dora (Dorothy), their Uncle Henry (not called uncle) and their mother, and their long-dead father, their backstory, their characteristics in the flesh and in the memory, the felt naturalness of the strictly unnatural sibling attachment of Martin and Dora in their latening teens, and the Longines watch that Henry gives Martin….
    There is even a passing mention of two ‘aunts’ In Hastings, where I spent some long summer holidays in the fifties and sixties. A story that results in Martin’s poignant growing sense of loss in parallel to a love’s requital — but by the potential of time’s watching back at you as a curative force, if not today, if not forever, such a loss when eventually consummated possesses a healing that can happen, and does happen, thus making otherwise outright and permanent loss more bearable. I was entranced. Moved by rewindable, or just windable, moments.


    “It was a flatfish, a bottom feeder, a ray of some kind.”

    This story gives me the wondrous discomfort of it being just out of kilter with the previous story, if with some of the same characters, and additional ones, like Martin’s dead (half?) brother, Stephen. The two aunts (who I happened to mention by chance in the previous entry) now live in Brighton, where this powerful brother’s time-keeper of a story takes place. Coincidentally, I real-time reviewed another Brighton pier story earlier today. Did I mention the Circus Man yesterday? Here, connections abound, one in a haunting Polaroid. Martin’s relationship with his mother, and another birthday present of a watch, this one a Smith not a Longines. Whether time-keeper or time-changer, we watch the re-synchronisations. The ownership of time, whatever the rift. The beat of a heart as a jumpstart-charger of time. Resonating with another story I real-time reviewed today about removing a heart from someone’s body without them dying. …”an excess of coincidence” or the way you interpret a coincidence as a significance or not. “…one of their interminable political discussions, this one about the American oil tycoon who had recently announced his intention to stand for president.” Only just out of kilter again when this work was first published in 2011?

  3. The comparison of the two versions of My Brother’s Keeper leads to this aside…
    If I travel long enough on time’s chariot (!), I do intend to continue my experience of this whole book with next September’s Titan reconfiguration and expansion…

  4. C90142F4-F3A5-4370-A790-B2B79EAFA8CATHE SILVER WIND

    “, but when the Americans abandoned Europe for China…”

    Threaded through this compelling SF-like novelette, ostensibly first published in 2011, there seems to be a rationale for alternate worlds in and out of kilter, through a form of “time stasis” aligned with a hotel lobby syndrome, involving a mechanical ‘Silver Wind’ and a dwarf clockmaker called Owen Andrews, but some of those alternate worlds seem to resemble bits of pieces of my own world since 2011. And that’s worrying!
    “How else would you describe a clock if not as a time machine?”
    Martin again, here as an estate agent, his wife now Miranda who was killed in a car crash, and someone called Dora married to Ray Levine, not Rye Levin, a marriage that she likens to being married to her own younger brother. There are some striking passages about South London, particularly Shooter’s Hill. A yearning to undo things to make things better, but the world shuttles in and out of variously geared declines, as far as I can see. A time stasis that also creates mutants. I somehow feel at home in these various worlds as a single gestalt that is frighteningly envisageable as a version of now in 2018… trying to alter the Saudi wars by use of future means, “Fortress Britain” as the a form of Brexit or America First. I am just waiting for similar curfews. And a future alternate version of this book that it has already become without rewind! The narrator Martin waiting for a resolution of ‘navigable parameters’, another meeting with the dwarf. Yet I turn back the pages and now find the name of a black Prime Minister. And a name of a woman who has the same name as Martin’s mother in the first story. Velazquez and Goya, what do they have in common? A time-bridge between dwarfs.

    “On my left was the water tower, a renovated Victorian structure…”


    “People were what they were, it was no use blaming others for what happened to them.”

    No use blaming other tranches of time, either!
    We now enter another seeped-in tranche of time, where the time travel aspect is now more associated with real wind as wind in tempests (and with gravity) rather than with the wind in the winding of a watch: plus stasis of stabilisation …but perhaps with all these things at once? Martin, the estate agent, with tantalising echoes of what we learnt about him and his sister Dora elsewhen, and now trying to re-exercise or exorcise that blessing or burden of ‘love’ by clumsily wooing Miranda instead, amid a Sapphic susceptibility against or blending-with Penis / Scrotum/ aura of remembering or of prefiguring a new romance — and amid the wonderfully conjured genius-loci of Hastings. I spent the same summer holidays there as the characters… perhaps also seeking out Andrew Owen, the dwarf or Circus Man. And that secondhand bookshop. And the secret turnings to watch.
    One of the most time-tantalising books so far that you are likely to read, and we now anticipate tensions between books themselves as well as between the slightly unsynchronised alternate worlds and the slightly unmatching names of people represented, even though we know they belong together. Chance-divided, yet intrinsic. Even the readers are chance-divided, each from each. Does death divide the tranches, though?

    “She wondered how it felt, to be so close to someone that they had power over what you did even when they were dead.”


    “The facts are nothing but a bunch of components, springs and gears and linchpins, stuff like that. The writer’s job is to construct something from them, a beautiful machine, a story that is the sum of those facts but also greater than them.”

    …almost as if it here belies itself as a neat discrete story separate from the rest of the other stories in the book. At least, the other stories have linchpins between themselves, adumbrated above. Yet, this last piece — an engaging story about Ginny who is destined to become a writer after creating, as a child, tiny ‘real’ engineers as characters within watches and clocks — is a coda that makes the whole book whole. The synergy or symphony of Gestalt. We watch Ginny grow up. Have her own romances among the real. Her Smith watch, her Owens watch. We are her half-hunters.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s