“I’m not sure what I was expecting when I sat down to start reading Dolphin Way. I hadn’t read any reviews at that point. I had received the book as a gift from someone who knew I typically only read SF and fantasy, but took the chance anyway and gave it to me. In part out of obligation to her, I started reading. I’m damned glad I did. Dolphin Way is the best book I’ve read this year.
For a guy who seems to have spent most of his time in the ocean, rather than at a type-writer, Mark Caney writes very well indeed. From the start, I was grabbed by his vivid description of the underwater world. It’s familiar, of course, being the oceanic world of our own planet, but at the same time so alien because, to the dolphins at least, it is everything. The land so important to us features so little in the book.
It wasn’t just the setting that seemed alien, of course. In those moments when the book truly shines, the dolphin society is convincingly alien, too, and portrayed with all the skill that a great science-fiction writer puts into his or her imagined alien species.
In fact, part of why I loved Dolphin Way so much is that it reads exactly like a great SF novel. All the elements are there – from the alien world of Earth’s oceans to the society of a species whose existence, history and experience are so far removed from our own, from a genuinely well-crafted hero to a dark and dangerous nemesis. The social interactions between the dolphins are rich and compelling. Their rites and legends and the mystique surrounding whales in their culture is all gripping stuff.
Everything a good read needs is right here. And, like most great SF, it’s not all simple entertainment or escapism – it will make you think every time you close the cover. What do dolphins think of us? Given the atrocities certain nations perpetrate against their species to this day, probably not that much. And yet they show no contempt towards us. How well do they know us? Their species is far older than ours. Do have creation myths? What are they?
Dolphin Way may not be SF in the traditional sense, and some would say it isn’t really SF at all, but it’s one of my favourite SF books all the same, and I encourage you to read it as soon as possible. Enjoy!”