Alastair Reynolds: Galactic North (collection)

chopper

Steven Poore - Epic Fantasist & SFSF Socialist
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Okay, so I had trouble getting into Revelation Space for some reason; not too sure why. But given the hoo-ha over him & his books & new deal over the last few weeks, I decided to try from a different angle.

Galactic North is a collection of short stories all set in the RS universe and date from various periods across Reynolds' career. The plus points here are that each one is only around 50 pages long, they all seem to feature characters who will appear later on in the novels themselves, so I'm going to have some fresh reference points, and there's a handy afterword by Reynolds that details some of his influences and the history behind the stories.

Not read too far as yet - too many other books on the go! - but the first story, The Great Wall of Mars, is an absolute cracker.

Now: opinions, peeps?
 

Rodders

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I loved this book. (But then i really rated AR) Some absolutly great stories and most of them have some superb endings. Hopefully you won't feel so short changed this time Chopper.

Don't forget to keep us posted on how you get on with each story. :D

I believe Werthead wrote a great review in the review section of these boards. (There are spoilers.)
 

J-Sun

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There is already a thread on this. As I discuss in a couple of posts on [url="http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/50493-any-other-alastair-reynolds-fans-here.html]this other thread[/url], I also had problems with Revelation Space and took the same tack you did, via Galactic North and Diamond Dogs. I'm currently trying RS again and, while I've re-read the 106 pages I read the first time and am now up to p.160 or so, it's still not working very well for me. A big part of it is that events are hinted at but either are explicitly not happening or are happening off-stage. None of the characters is yet particularly interesting. The style is not bad but not good - it is neither "beautiful" nor "clear" but is just a little slow. So, all in all, it's been a very boring 160 pages that have no excuse for being more than 40 pages. I'm still holding out hope that the last couple hundred pages might amount to one real good novel after what I expect will be 400 pages of prologue.

But, yeah, his short fiction is a blast.

Re: that book deal: I hope it includes collections and a lot of them. I shudder to think about the quality of the works if he has to pop out 600-800 page novels every single year for the next decade whether inspired to do so or not.

-- I'm slow - Rodders already beat me to some of this. ;)
 
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chopper

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didn't feel short-changed as such - just a bit mystified and left a bit cold by the story to begin with. that might well change after i read some more....

j-sun - i should really use the search function more.... :D

on the other hand, it's another active thread!
 
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Rodders

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There is another collection of stories not set in the Revelation Space universe called Zima Blue. I might get a copy from Forbidden Planet tomorrow.
 

J-Sun

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Yep - if I run into it, I'm getting that one, too. If the rest of it is a tenth as good as "Merlin's Gun", then I'll be happy.
 

Ady Hall

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I haven't read much SF (momma raised a fantasy boy in me - although saying that out loud sounds, umm, wierd) - but I like the sound of this fella and will tag him on my Amazon wishlist.
 

J-Sun

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Sorry to post a digression here but, since I digressed here in the first place, I feel I ought to "correct" it here, too.

I'm currently trying RS again and, while I've re-read the 106 pages I read the first time and am now up to p.160 or so, it's still not working very well for me.
Ironically, as soon as I said that, it picked up and I'm now on p.248 and it's going pretty well. Chapter 7 in my edition starts on p.161 and the interaction between Sajaki and Volyova by p.164 piqued my interest. Then the sequence with Sylveste, Pascale, and Girardieau on to the end of the chapter on p.188 is pretty compelling and everything after that seems much more interesting and promising.

I still think the book starts poorly and takes a long time to get going, but at least it does eventually seem to go.
 

chopper

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finished Glacial now as well: a decent enough detective story, but somehow not quite as satisfying as its predecessor. the motivation seems just a little too forced to me.

onwards!
 

Rodders

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I though Glacial was a good concept, but that the story itself was forced to get the concept on to the page. You'll enjoy the other stories Chopper.
 

J-Sun

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I actually liked that one okay - I think I see what you both mean, but it didn't bother me at the time. My only disappointment was that I was initially hoping for more of an exploration of the Conjoiners and instead it went off on a mystery tangent. But that was just my expectation and, taking the story on its own terms, it wasn't great, but was pretty well done and interesting. Both the story before it and the one after it are better, though.
 

Xelebes

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I have the book. The first story is not bad but the others become hit and miss as they are read further on. This was my first book of Alistair Reynolds and it did make me want to not continue with the rest of his repertoire, if you know what I mean.
 

Rodders

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finished Glacial now as well: a decent enough detective story, but somehow not quite as satisfying as its predecessor. the motivation seems just a little too forced to me.

onwards!
Chopper, how are you getting on with this?
 

chopper

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slowly, unfortunately - i've got at least 3 other books on the go at the same time (typical me, one in every room of the house...) and there's shedloads of writing going on too, especially on my writers' group's new alternate earth project. i'll make sure i set aside a day for the next story though, and i'll have to renew the book from the library....
 

clovis-man

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Galactic North is a collection of short stories all set in the RS universe and date from various periods across Reynolds' career. The plus points here are that each one is only around 50 pages long, they all seem to feature characters who will appear later on in the novels themselves, so I'm going to have some fresh reference points, and there's a handy afterword by Reynolds that details some of his influences and the history behind the stories.
Another bonus is that the dichotomy between the Demarchists and the Conjoiners is at least partly explained, which also makes reading (or re-reading) the rest of his output a little easier.
 

Winters_Sorrow

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Just near the end of this book took and here's my take on the stories (no spoilers)

Great Wall of Mars - a decent introduction to the Revelation Space universe, especially as I hadn't read any before, and was full of cross and double-cross characters (which I would soon discover to be a AR staple). Although personally I would have liked to have seen more from Sandra Voi & the Demarchists explained.

Glacial - I liked this, though I see Chopper's point about it. It expands (but not greatly) on the Conjoiner lifestyle but really it could have been about any faction and starring anyone.

A Spy in Europa - I enjoyed this a lot. The 'Cold War' style of espionage and tension throughout was good and the ending lived up to this as well. My only quibble is AR could have ramped up the tension a bit more during the escape but length may have been a factor.

Weather - which became my new favourite story! Also an introduction into the "Ultras" faction which had been hinted at in Great Wall of Mars but not explored. I liked the drama of the ship battles and the introduction of Weather herself. The ending actually left me wanting a sequel to see what happened to the characters, so that was a sign that it hooked me early on ;)

Dilation Sleep - almost "Weather" from the point of view of the passengers to some degree. But it didn't grab me as much - again the length wasn't sufficient to drive home the crushing loneliness and grief the main character would have felt so the finale lacked the emotional punch it could have.

Grafenwalder's Bestiary - another very good story, nudging close to the top of the pile for me. I liked the obsessive nature of the collector's and the illegal trade which supported it. The denouement was a little over-egged though, surely the first time he went across to Ursula's alone would have been the end? It did leave me wanting to see more from the scary man with the Homberg though :)

Nightingale - a very good "heist" story with some great characters and resultant tension. It went a bit overboard on the twist, double-twist and pike somersault plot backflip though, somewhat unnecessarily so! Interesting take on the HAL idea though.

Galatic North - I didn't really enjoy this one at all sadly. I originally liked the idea of a "relativistic" chase sequence but it was carried on much, much too long. It felt as if you were missing the best bits of the story and that the author was stretching the chase out over millenia just to 'be cool' and it wound up feeling very contrived sadly. Not a good story to finish on.
 
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Rodders

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You might want to check out Diamond Dogs too. It's another great story in which the scary man in the Homberg features quite heavily.
 

Ian Whates

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You might want to check out Diamond Dogs too. It's another great story in which the scary man in the Homberg features quite heavily.
I agree, a great story; written in part as deliberate homage to Algis Budrys' classic novel Rogue Moon.
 

Ursa major

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They are both set in the Revelation Space universe, AE.


(Personally, I really disliked Diamond Dogs, but Turquoise Days is fine.)
 
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