Books

Short works

Books : reviews

Alastair Reynolds.
Century Rain.
Gollancz. 2004

Alastair Reynolds.
Pushing Ice.
Gollancz. 2005

Alastair Reynolds.
House of Suns.
Gollancz. 2008

Alastair Reynolds.
Zima Blue and other stories: enlarged edn.
Gollancz. 2009

Contents

The Real Story. 2002
Beyond the Aquila Rift. 2005
Enola. 1991
Signal to Noise. 2006
Cardiff Afterlife. 2008
Hideaway. 2000
Minla's Flowers. 2007
Merlin's Gun. 2000
Angels of Ashes. 1999
Spirey and the Queen. 1996
Understanding Space and Time. 2005
Digital to Analogue. 1992
Everlasting. 2004
Zima Blue. 2005

Alastair Reynolds.
Terminal World.
Gollancz. 2010

Alastair Reynolds.
Troika.
Subterranean Press. 2011

Troika tells the story of men and women confronting an enigma known as the Matryoshka, a vast alien construct whose periodic appearances have generated terror, wonder, and endless debate. During its third “apparition” in a remote comer of the solar system, a trio of Russian cosmonauts approach this enigma and attempt to penetrate its mysteries. What they discover—and what they endure in the process—forms the centerpiece of an enthralling, constantly surprising narrative. Troika is at once a wholly original account of First Contact and a meditation on time, history, and the essentially fluid nature of identity itself.

Alastair Reynolds.
Slow Bullets.
Tachyon. 2015

The survival of civilization depends on one woman—and her archenemy

A vast conflict between hundreds of worlds appears to be finally at an end. But even as the cease-fire takes effect, a conscripted soldier is captured by a renegade war criminal and left for dead.

When Scur revives, she finds herself aboard a prisoner transport vessel where something has gone terribly wrong. The ship’s dying computer is waking its passengers, combatants from both sides of the war forced into hibernation. Their memories, embedded in bullets, are the only links to worlds they can’t find and a planet they don’t recognize.

Now Scur must keep the peace. And when an old enemy reappears, the stakes are much higher than just her own life.

Alastair Reynolds.
Revenger.
Gollancz. 2016

From the dark, distant future, and the rubble of our solar system comes a tale of space pirates, buried treasure and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism…

And of vengeance…

Captain Rackamore and his crew rnake it their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technolagies inside.

Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore’s crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular.

Alastair Reynolds.
Harvest of Time.
BBC Books. 2013

A forgotten enemy. An old adversary. A terrible alliance.

From a ruined world at the end of time, the vicious Sild make preparations to conquer the past and rewrite history. But to do it they will need to enslave an intellect greater than their own…

On Earth, the Doctor, Jo and UNIT are called in to examine a mysterious incident on a North Sea drilling platform. They’ve hardly begun, though, when something even stranger takes hold: The Brigadier and others are starting to forget about UNIT’s highest-profile prisoner.

As the Sild invasion begins, the Doctor faces a terrible dilemma. To save the universe, he must save his arch-nemesis… The Master.

Alastair Reynolds.
Blue Remembered Earth.
Gollancz. 2012

Earth, the 22nd Century.
    The Mechanism knows everything. It knows where you are. It knows what you are thinking, what you are feeling. There is no crime. You are safe.
    But in a Utopia like this keeping a secret can be a deadly business.

Alastair Reynolds.
On the Steel Breeze.
Gollancz. 2013

Chiku Yellow is earth-bound: living a peaceful life on a changing world, as humanity explores a thousand new ways to experience life.

Chiku Red is space-bound: blasted into deep space to investigate Eunice Akinya’s last journey, and maybe unlock the final secrets of the physics of space travel.

Chiku Green is planet-bound: travelling thousands of light years in a vast Generation ship to the planet Crucible. A new home for humankind; it’s a habitable planet, and it hosts the mandala: a fascinating alien labyrinth.

All three are Chiku Akinya.

All three are pivotal to our future in space.

All three are in danger…

Alastair Reynolds.
Poseidon's Wake.
Gollancz. 2015

Alastair Reynolds.
Revelation Space.
Millennium. 2000

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 30 August 2004

It's about 500 years in the future. Humanity has spread to the stars, but still only at the speed of light, although there are rumours of hidden alien FTL drives. People live for hundreds of years, with complex computer implants, and have sub-divided into almost separate species dependent on their upgrades. But the Melding Plague and constant wars mean life is nowhere perfect. Against this backdrop, Dan Sylveste wants to understand what wiped out the alien Amarantin nearly 100,000 years ago. Several factions are trying to help or hinder his progress, and there's more at stake that any can know.

This is a great gritty space opera. The grime and slime, the mysterious alien races, both dead and in the background, the faulty tech, the frozen Captain, the really big guns, the grand and ever-increasing scope of the plot, and the constant revelations and plot twists, make this a great read. One of the back-cover blurbs describes this as "gonzo cybergoth space opera" -- I'm not precisely sure what that means, but I don't think it gives the right impression. This is actually a great example of what Clute calls the "dirty" future of nanotech/biotech, distinguishing it from the previous "clean cut" futuristic worlds (I think "messy" might be a better term, or even "grungy"); the future is more advanced, but the problems, perils and dangers are more advanced, too.

Reynolds gives us a glorious messy background galaxy, and weaves a complex page-turner of a plot across it. Wonderful.

Alastair Reynolds.
Chasm City.
Millennium. 2001

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 17 September 2004

This is set in the same universe as Revelation Space, a few years earlier. (It actually finishes roughly where the former begins, but that doesn't mean they should be read in the other order.)

Mirabel Tanner is a bodyguard with a mission: to kill the man who killed his employer's wife on Sky's Edge. To start with, this seems relatively simple, but the chase leads him to Chasm City on Yellowstone, a few years after the Melding Plague hit. There he finds his mind unravelling under the influence of a cultist virus, and several people who are not what they initially seem. As he gets closer to his target, he begins to doubt his mission, his memories, and himself.

This is excellent -- equally as good as its predecessor. The scope is not quite so large in one sense, being mainly confined to a single city, but may be even larger in some of the backstory it reveals. The details of the future society -- magically high tech mingling with grungy squalor -- are beautifully drawn, and the complex intertwined plot strands excellently brought together. Marvellous.

Alastair Reynolds.
Redemption Ark.
Gollancz. 2002

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 22 April 2005

We are a few decades after the events of Revelation Space. Sylveste's activities there have drawn the attention of the Inhibitors, with potentially devastating consequences for the whole of humanity. Various factions are trying to prevent, or flee from, these consequences, and all converge on the spaceship Nostalgia for Infinity, and its super-weapons.

This is a stunningly good continuation of the series, with ever more momentous events unfolding, or being foreshadowed, and more in-depth views on the various cultures, from the mysterious hive-mind Conjoiners, to the uplifted pig society in Chasm City, from the Captain plague-melded to his ship, to weapons with attitude. Just as gritty, just as complex and grungy, just as fascinating, and just as satisfying as the previous books, and there's still another one to come!

Alastair Reynolds.
Absolution Gap.
Gollancz. 2003

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 14 January 2006

It's about 20 years after the events of Redemption Ark (although, because we are following several threads, set at quite different times because of speed of light effects, it's not really as simple as that). We pick up the story of Conjoiner Clavain, pig Scorpio, and spaceship Nostalgia for Infinity, and another "parallel" story of mobile cathedrals trundling across Hela, a moon orbiting a planet that occasionally vanishes for a split second. Everyone's stories come together in a final desperate fight against the Inhibitors -- maybe. This is the fourth and final instalment in the Inhibitors saga (the "fifth" book, Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, is an infilling of short stories) -- so, of course, all the loose ends are tied up, and all the mysteries explained, aren't they?

Well, no they're not. And that in fact is one of the strengths of the book. Yes, we learn more about the Inhibitors, and what happens in their fight against humanity. But we also learn about a whole bunch of new people, races, galaxies, even universes, some of which may be even worse than the wolves! This conclusion of the large plot, but opening out of the even larger, which has been a feature of the whole series, gives a feeling of reality (for certain idiosyncratic values of "reality", of course). It makes the reader feel they are part of the whole unfolding history, which doesn't come in neatly packaged chuncks with "happy ever afters", and certainly doesn't end (we hope!)

Alastair Reynolds.
The Prefect.
Gollancz. 2007

Alastair Reynolds.
Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days.
Gollancz. 2003

Alastair Reynolds.
Galactic North.
Gollancz. 2006

Contents

Great Wall of Mars. 2006
Glacial. 2006
A Spy in Europa. 2006
Weather. 2006
Dilation Sleep. 2006
Grafenwalder's Bestiary. 2006
Nightingale. 2006
Galactic North. 2006