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Tides tells the tale of the rise of two intelligent species on the same planet, at a time in their history when they first encounter each other. Paras and Ortok are the only two continents on this planet, the homes to these two different species, and are separated by thousands of miles of ocean. Paras is lush and hospitable, a place where no one ever knows want. It has produced a culture of kindness and honesty. Ortok is bleak and volcanic, where the inhabitants survive at a subsistence level. It has given rise ...
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Tides tells the tale of the rise of two intelligent species on the same planet, at a time in their history when they first encounter each other. Paras and Ortok are the only two continents on this planet, the homes to these two different species, and are separated by thousands of miles of ocean. Paras is lush and hospitable, a place where no one ever knows want. It has produced a culture of kindness and honesty. Ortok is bleak and volcanic, where the inhabitants survive at a subsistence level. It has given rise to a culture of cruelty and deceit. But will the citizens of Paras forever remain honest? And will the sentient species on Ortok finally cast out deceit?

Hab, a Parassian mariner, follows a cloud of volcanic ash twenty thousand leagues across the world-spanning ocean, battling iced-over seas, the decimation of his crew, and, worst of all, the killer tides - tides that because of two close moons are monstrous in size and are virtually unnavigable in any but the most ingeniously designed ships.

Watch cultures collide in this brilliant new novel by the award-winning author of Omnifix and Orbis.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
On a water-rich planet with distant major landmasses, two markedly different species of intelligent beings have evolved separately without any knowledge of the other's existence. But when one courageous explorer gives up everything and sets sail for the other side of the world, he jeopardizes not only his own life but also the safety of his entire race.

Hab Miquay is a renowned mariner, the only person to have ever sail to and return from the equator, a treacherous region where, because of the constant pull from the planet's two natural satellites, survival is virtually impossible due to monstrous moon tides. But when a scientist researching volcanic ash deposits shares his theory with the ship captain -- the existence of another as-of-yet undiscovered continent beyond the tides -- Miquay risks his family's entire savings for an expedition that will most likely end in his death. Against all odds, Miquay and a few lucky others survive the perilous journey and find the new continent. Unlike their peaceful, prosperous homeland of Paras, the newfound world is a volcanic wasteland inhabited by an intelligent race of giant reptilian creatures whose complex, Machiavellian society is based on deceit, subterfuge, and violence. And to make matters worse, the "hoppers," as Miquay calls them, are extremely interested in finding a way to navigate the tides to Paras, the Golden Land…

Reminiscent of Harry Turtledove's Colonization saga and C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner sequence -- with a heaping helping of classic adventure pulp -- Mackay's novel about cultures colliding is breakneck-paced, jam-packed with action, and immensely satisfying. You want rip-roaring adventure fantasy? Look no further. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
Two intelligent species from contrasting continents on the same planet clash in Scott Mackay's harrowing SF novel Tides. The Canadian author won the Arthur Ellis Award for best short mystery fiction in 1998. Agent, Joshua Bilmes. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591023340
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Mackay is the award-winning author of eight novels and over forty short stories. He has been interviewed in print, Web, TV, and radio media. His short story "Last Inning" won the 1998 Arthur Ellis Award for best short mystery fiction. Another story, "Reasons Unknown," won the Okanagan Award for best literary short fiction. His first Barry Gilbert Mystery, Cold Comfort, was nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for best mystery novel, and his SF novel, The Meek, was a finalist for the prestigious John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel of 2001. His novels have been published in five languages.

More on Scott Mackay can be found at www.scottmackay.net

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Read an Excerpt


By Scott Mackay
Prometheus Books
Copyright © 2005

Scott Mackay
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59102-334-0

Chapter One Hab gazed at the hundreds of red bladders floating on the sea. His men lowered boats over the side. The tides of Foot and Lag mounted from the south, the sky squalled with rain, and the northeast coast of Paras was ragged with intermittent fog banks. Hab glanced over the stern at the tides, then at his first mate, Guenard, who counted the red bladders with his finger. The ship rocked with the tide's first unruly push. As ship's captain, Hab knew his place was on board. But he yearned to join the hunt.

"Guenard," he said, "I'm going with the men. You take command."

Guenard turned to him, his bleary eyes widening. "But Captain," he said, "look at those tides." Rain dripped from the first mate's beard. "I'd feel a lot safer if you stayed on board."

"These tides aren't anything you can't handle," Hab said. "As long as the whales don't drag us beyond the southern tip of the Island of Liars, we should be fine."

Overhead, the mainmast creaked in the wind.

"But why do such a thing?" asked Guenard. "Why ride out in the pouring rain with all those hunters? I can smell them from here."

Guenard stared, waiting for an answer.

"Because I was once a hunter myself, and I sometimes miss it."

"And for this you desert your post as commander?" said Guenard. Guenard just stared. "The moons ride high, and the tides lurch like granite walls toward us. How should I set the jib sail? And what of the kedge?" As the first mate voiced his concerns, the Minden rocked again, climbing twenty feet in a matter of seconds. "Should I heave to? Or should I tack directly into the wind? It's a damnably rough watch when tide and wind are adverse to each other, Captain."

"Tack into the wind and furl the jib sail," said Hab. "Set the kedge anchor off the starboard bow. We've faced tides much worse than these, Guenard. What's made you so liverish?"

The first mate cast an anxious glance toward the east. "I should hate to be cast upon the Island of Liars, sir, that's all."

Hab glanced into the misty east, thinking about the Liars.

"You don't have to worry about the Liars, Guenard," he said. "They're human beings, just like you and me."

* * *

Hab got into a boat with a hunter he knew well: Jeter, a man his own age. Jeter was tall and lank, with an unruly bang of blond hair hanging over his small blue eyes, a long narrow face, a bony chin, a few pimples, and long yellow teeth crowding the front of his mouth. He loaded the harpoons into the boat.

"I'm coming with you," said Hab.

Jeter looked at him doubtfully. "Is Guenard sure about the pickup?" he asked. "I'd hate to get lost in all this fog."

Hab gave him a gruff nod. "He's an able seaman."

"But not as able as you," said Jeter.

With the help of three other hunters and a puller, they soon lowered the longboat into the water and got the small sail hoisted.

They tacked into the wind, letting the tides push them from behind. Hab helped the puller with the paddling. Over the stern of the small boat, the Minden grew smaller and smaller. Storm lanterns, haloed by the mist and rain, grew faint as they drew away. Up ahead he saw the bladders, thick and red, two per whale, each the size of a boat, the animals taking on air, herding on the surface.

"Over there!" he shouted, pointing.

A mother and two calves bobbed on the surface. Jeter came from the bow.

"I'll haul," said the hunter. "You can have this one."

Hab gave the hunter a nod and on sturdy sea legs walked to the front of the small boat. He got his harpoon ready. Jeter and the puller drew closer. The small sail snapped briskly in the freshening wind. The tide swelled behind them, slapping into the stern, sending spume over their backs. Hundreds of red bladders heaved upward on the twenty-foot tide, as graceful as dancers. Hab knelt in the braces and tied his legs into place. Closer ... closer ... the cow and its two calves suspected nothing. The cow was big. Her blubber alone would pay rent on at least one of his boats.

"A few spokes to port!" he called.

They veered closer. Once in range, Hab stood up, aimed, and fired the cannon, launching the harpoon toward the cow's left bladder. The slender projectile sang through the air, uncoiling line behind it, and sank deeply into the cow's bladder. She lurched forward at the sting of the barbed point, arched her back, lifted her head out of the salty foam, and opened her jaws. Razor-sharp teeth ringed the gaping chasm of her mouth. Hab saw two blowholes in the roof of her mouth leading to either bladder. She howled, her eyes flashed with rage, and she slapped her tail against the water. She plowed through the tide toward the boat.

Hab lifted another projectile, rammed it down the cannon, aimed, and just as the cow was going to close its jaws over the bow of the boat, fired.

Funny how they sensed a mortal wound. She stopped her attack. Her bladders hissed air. Blood sputtered into the air like a red fountain. The men cheered. But Hab felt anything but cheerful. Where was his spirit? Ten years ago he would have cheered along with the rest of them. Now he felt empty. This was a good kill. This was going to make him a lot of money. He was going to sustain the flagging family fortunes for yet another year. With this kill, he would provide for Gougou the occasional box of bonbons she enjoyed so much. He would pay off some of Romal's gambling debts. He would buy a pretty dress for Thia. He might even have enough to erect to his father a small memorial in the seamen's cemetery at Alquay. But would the money ever fill this new emptiness he felt inside, or quell his growing restlessness? He wanted something, but he wasn't sure what it was.

He watched the whale with joyless eyes. He tried to concentrate on the hunt, to shake these more melancholy thoughts from his mind. Mortally wounded. Funny how they knew. They were smarter than a lot of men realized. Following instinct, the cow turned away and headed toward land, like they all did whenever they were mortally wounded, off to beach itself, to run itself aground in a final bit of shallows before it died. Hab let out line.

"She's heading toward Paras," he said to Jeter. "We might as well settle down for the ride."

"Should we wound the calves?" asked Jeter.

Wound, but never kill. The bladder whale would secrete a poison into its meat if killed outright. A slow ride to shore, while the whale slowly suffocated, made sure the meat remained edible. Hab looked at the calves, raising their own hideous heads out of the water, looking around in bewilderment, wondering where their mother was.

"No," he said. "Let the bulls have them."

Fifty yards to port, the cow lunged out of the water, a dark gargantuan shape in the surrounding gray, her bladders now half full, like ragged red flags, still gushing blood. The harpoons held fast. She fell with the force of her forty tons into the water, sending spray everywhere, slapped her tail three times, then went under once again. Hab let out more line. The boat lurched and headed west, towed by the whale, the age-old pas de deux between the whalers and the whales of this stormy coast. The rain came down harder.

"Light the torch," ordered Hab. "Guenard's going to be relieved when he sees us moving away from the Island of Liars."

One of the sailors lit the torch. The flame cast a fitful white reflection over the surface. The boat lurched again and gained speed as the whale dragged the men through the water.

"How far do you think she's going to take us?" asked Jeter.

"About a hundred miles," said Hab. "She's a strong young cow."

The small craft headed west at eighteen knots, with the tides occasionally sloshing over her port side, at times nearly capsizing her. The sailors bailed her out once in a while. Hab was cold, wet, and tired. He stared out into the rain, making sure the lines stayed untangled, winching the small capstan whenever the cow gave some slack, forcing himself to stay awake. He raised his collar higher and felt some cold rainwater trickle down his back.

When dawn broke, the cow was winched to within twenty-five yards of the bow. The water was dark, with little islands of foam here and there. The fog was gone. The sky was still overcast. The rain had stopped. The cow's bladders lay draped over her back like a couple of collapsed tents. She had to stay surfaced now or she would drown. Seabirds flocked around her, pecking away at the delicate crimson membrane. Hab took out his telescope and scanned the Channel of Liars. Far to the west he saw the coast of Paras, the hilly province of Dagu, not much in the way of beach, bleak and rocky.

"We'll be there in an hour," he said.

"The Golden Land," exhaled one of the sailors.

"We'll all have a taste of blubber," said Hab.

They reached the treacherous coves and inlets of Dagu in less than an hour. With the tides receding, Hab saw both high- and low-water marks along the coast, a difference of fifty feet, the high-water mark strewn with seaweed, the low-water mark a line of foam over the mud flats. Dagulanders waded in the shallows gathering the succulent morsels of shellfish the tides had left behind. The bladder whale veered north, looking for a suitable sandbar on which to beach itself. The cow dragged the boat along the coast for several hours. Rain fell again, but it was a warm rain, pushed northward by the Auvilly Currents.

Up on the hill, Hab saw an encampment. Strange. Who would camp out on that treeless hill this late in the season? He lifted his telescope and had a look. The people up there were dressed in the traditional blue of Jondonq. His own people. Two thousand miles from home. With three ships harbored against the rocks. What were they doing here?

"Are they whalers?" asked Jeter.

"I don't see any whaling vessels." Hab unstrapped his legs and got up from his harpoon chair. "I need a swim after a night in that chair. I think I'll have a look."

"I'll mark the spot on the map," said Jeter.

"Have Guenard pick me up on the way back."

Hab dove over the side and swam for shore. It was, he knew, an uncharacteristic action. To leave the ship and go out on one of the boats was strange enough. But to jump over the side of the boat and swim for shore-that was even stranger. He stroked strongly and surely, his legs scissor-kicking precisely through the waves. The waves lifted him up and down. Here was another side of himself he every so often discovered, a restlessness derived from his poor dead father, Duq. He lifted his head out of the water and stared at the shore of Dagu to see how far he had to go. He was like his father because his father wanted to know. His father wanted to discover. His father could never sit still or stay in one place too long, but had to be roaming or sailing in his ever-insatiable quest to know. Hab kicked harder, stroked harder. Every so often his father came back to him like a ghost. Sheer determined effort at whatever he happened to be doing at the moment seemed to be the only way to appease his father's ghost.

So he swam for shore. Swam as surely as the whales swam. Curious about the encampment on the hill. As a good Parassian, wanting only the truth. As his father's son, wanting only to know.


Excerpted from Tides by Scott Mackay Copyright © 2005 by Scott Mackay. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

Explorations Interview with Scott Mackay

Paul Goat Allen: Scott, first off congratulations on a great read. What was the initial inspiration behind a book like Tides? Scott Mackay: Like all my novels, I started Tides with the germ of an idea; and this was centered around that most classic of all science fiction tropes: first contact. I wanted to somehow put a new spin on the idea, so I scaled it back, and instead of making the first contact drama play out on an interstellar scale, I made it play out on a single world. The novel originally started out as a short story years of ago, and it was while I was working on this smaller piece that the idea of creating two distinct cultures -- one based on honesty, the other based on deceit -- arose. I sent the story out and one editor commented that the theme was simply too big to be contained in a short story. That got me thinking in terms of a novel. I also knew I wanted to write a sea novel, as sea novels have always had a special appeal to me. And so the novel grew. PGA: Although Tides is in large part about the conflicting sociological differences of two cultures à la C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner sequence, I sensed an almost classic fantasy undertone -- specifically Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars novels. Hab Miquay is so much like that archetypal adventure hero -- courageous, idealistic, perceptive, romantic, etc. Did those kinds of classic escapist fantasy novels influence you in your formative years? SM: As a kid I remember reading some of those Edgar Rice Burroughs novels -- at least the young adult rewritten editions that came out from Gold Key Classics. I also read Tolkien, the Dragons of Pern novels, the Asimov Foundation series, Le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea novels, and a lot of Heinlein. For years, I subscribed to Batman comics, and so the sense of the larger-than-life hero has always had an addictively compelling attraction for me. As I mentioned above, I also like sea novels, so it was a lot of Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville, and Jack London. I was particularly impressed by Joseph Conrad's Typhoon, and perhaps on a basic subconscious level, a lot of Tides was inspired by this great Conrad book -- though I seem to be realizing this just now. As for the fantasy undertone you mentioned, I'm glad you picked up on that, because while the ultimate concept of the book relies on a science fiction idea, it does indeed read much like a fantasy novel, and this proved to be a new and exciting mode of writing for me. PGA: Like the story's protagonist, have you ever had a desire to just pack everything on your back and set off in a boat for destinations unknown? SM: In my late teens and early 20s, I traveled a lot. I rode my ten-speed from Toronto all the way to Boston, and then from Boston to New York. I hitchhiked around the Maritimes. I went up to the Yukon and got within 80 miles of the Arctic Circle. But as for sailing on an actual boat? I live in the middle of the continent, and so it's mainly small boats for me, usually on small lakes. Now that I'm older I don't travel as much, as I have kids and home responsibilities, but my 16-year-old son is egging me on, and he wants to do some "extreme" traveling with me, and the two of us plan on going to the 2007 WorldCon in Yokohama, Japan. I can feel the travel bug biting me again, and it's going to be great to go to Japan with my son. PGA: When you read for pleasure what type of books do you gravitate toward? What are some of your most recent reads? What's your all-time favorite science fiction novel and why? SM: I primarily swing back and forth between literary novels and science fiction novels. When I burn out on one form I switch to the other, and vice versa. As for literary novels, some of my most recent reads are I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe, a novel I can't recommend highly enough, as no one can do character the way Tom Wolfe can. I just finished Saturday by Ian McEwan, and I was most impressed with its nuanced tone and diction. I'm now in the middle of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, and as usual with this South American magic realist, every line is a surprise and delight. As for science fiction, recent reads include Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, Mindscan by Robert J. Sawyer, and The Face of the Waters by Robert Silverberg. The Face of the Waters is another great sea novel, and is a must-read for fans of this particular form. As for my all-time favorite science fiction novel, I would have to say it's Steel Beach by John Varley. It's always been said that science fiction is a literature of ideas, but I contend that it can be a literature of character as well. In Steel Beach, Varley proves this. The ideas are there -- in mega-doses! -- but so is the character. Not only is his affecting portrayal of the protagonist, Hildy Johnson, brilliant, but his chilling depiction of Central Computer is something I'll never forget. He achieves his brilliant characterization primarily through the use of voice, and I think it's the voice in this novel that makes it one of my all-time favorites. PGA: How did you get involved with Pyr and Lou Anders, and what do you think of the Prometheus imprint thus far? SM: I knew of Lou because of his editorship at Argosy magazine. Also, his reputation as a "good science fiction head" (as Judith Merril used to say) is well established. As for my involvement with him and Pyr, it came via the usual route, through my agent, Joshua Bilmes, of the JABberwocky Literary Agency in New York. Lou, I think, is one of those dedicated science fiction and fantasy editors who is on par with some of the greats: Frederick Pohl, Judy-Lynn del Rey, John W. Campbell, Gardner Dozois, and David Hartwell. As for the imprint, I feel as if I've joined an exciting and innovative enterprise that's destined to make a significant and lasting mark on science fiction publishing. All the support staff -- and I particularly have to mention Jill Maxick and Lisa Risio --- have been absolutely great. PGA: I have to ask -- any thoughts of a Tides sequel? SM: While there are no immediate plans for a sequel, I think there might be room for one. I would certainly like to revisit this world I've created, as a lot of preparatory work went into devising it, including maps, the development of two separate languages, as well as two systems of theology. I would like to see a Tides novel told from the point of view of a hopper. What would it be like to grow up in a culture of deceit and criminality, where the lie was the thing, and yet where in the breast of every hopper citizen there was a nascent moral sense just screaming to get out? I think it would make for an interesting tale.
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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    stupendous science fiction thriller

    The two moons make the water rich planet seem like two different worlds as tidal conditions does not allow travel beyond the imaginary barrier, the equator that divides the orb in half. On both sides of the watery ¿line¿ lie great continents with each containing an intelligent species unbeknownst to one another. --- Renowned sea captain Hab Miquay has made it to the ¿edge¿ of the world and returned safely. He has recently learned of a theory from a volcanologist studying ash that there must be another great land mass besides Paras on the other side of the giant tides. Miquay is euphoric as he plans an expedition to crash through the great tides to the other side. Called foolhardy with few backers, he risks his fortune to fund the quest. Miquay and a few courageous yet foolish souls survive the perilous trek crossing the impregnable barrier and indeed find the other continent, Ortok, a volcanic pocked wasteland inhabited by intelligent devious reptiles. One of them drillmaster Ortok uses the naive Miquay to help him with his plans to hop the tidal barrier to the Golden Land beyond. --- Though the action is non-stop and fast-paced, it is the planet and its two dominant species that make for a stupendous science fiction thriller. Hab is a fabulous protagonist who enjoys exploring the unknown, but will learn some things are best left alone once he understands how deceitfully wily Ortok and his species are. Scott Mackay provides a strong science fiction thriller in which his age of reason humans and his sentient reptile race seem real perhaps the latter because of the stereotyping starting with Genesis but more likely due to the actions of the star performers. --- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted September 21, 2010

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