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What We’re Reading: The Stone Gods

Post by Christine Wells
Posted December 26, 2013 in NoveList Bookshelf, Readers' Advisory News

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The Stone Gods

by Jeanette Winterson

The Stone Gods is told in three intersecting stories. The first begins on another planet that has essentially been destroyed by its human inhabitants who are now looking for a new world. The second takes us back to the explorer James Cook’s landing on Easter Island in the 18th century. Finally we are propelled forward in time to the devastating aftermath of a third world war and a society that is increasingly managed by corporate interests. The stories are held together by the relationship between two recurring characters, Billie and Spike, who appear in different forms throughout the book: woman, man, robot, robot head.

This is Winterson’s first real attempt at science fiction, and unfortunately, as innovative as the structure of her novel is, the plot relies heavily on much-used SF tropes to the extent that it is simply cliché in several places. It may be that The Stone Gods is really more of a prose poem than a novel. The plot, which even for science fiction is frequently strained and falls back on improbable coincidences and deus ex machina, clunkily flows into eddies of some beautiful writing before trudging on again. That said, Winterson can also be a bit self-indulgent and overwrought in this particular novel.

If you love Winterson, then I could recommend this book. If you’ve never read her before, I definitely recommend starting with Oranges are not the only Fruit or Sexing the Cherry. Recommended by Christine Wells.