Alastair Reynolds

J-Sun

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Any excitement for his next trilogy of books? Apparently it charts mankinds next eleven thousand years in space. (Then it's back to the Revelation Space universe. Yay!!!)
If that's the set that's supposed to be extra-hard SF in a Clarkean mode, then I was. Still am, I suppose, but less so.

I found his habit of having characters explain the plot off screen and then never mentioning it again very annoying.
Related: his switching of past and present scenes in CC right when one might possibly getting interesting is a big part of the general wobbling around of this book.

I couldnt finish RS and with respect to Chasm City and his writing ability i dont think he could ever write a novel that is among the best SF ever imho.
Exactly. He especially seems to be a bit heavy with the similes and, regardless of frequency and visible strain, can sometimes miss badly. It can happen to even the best authors, but this, for instance, is worthy of Thog's Masterclass (Dept. of No Thanks I'm Full): "The man was curled up in a foetal position, naked, as if he had just been placed there and allowed to wake. His skin was pallid and was covered in a sheen of sweat, like sugar glazing."

I mean... wow. Urf.

And one thing that really bugs me (though I suspect there's an invalid but plausible argument for it if one wanted to defend it) is his constant references to Earth things. There's one page where a spaceship looks like a manta ray and there are two other Earth references in the same page or two. The usual density is lower, but there are still a lot. It wouldn't surprise me if Earth references persisted but not to this degree. And one that especially bugs me is wrong in many ways - I wish I could find it again to quote the whole thing in context but I can't - something about maybe somebody doing something with a weapon or other machinery that "snick"ed like "crochet hooks" or some such. I'm supposed to accept that a guy who's at least supposed to be a far future mercenary warrior dude from another planet has crochet hooks in his normal arsenal of simile material?

I might read him again but no hurry at all....
Yep - I still have the second and third books of the core RS trilogy and I'll read at least the second some day, but that day won't be for a long time.

I too enjoyed Chasm City. It's got a very interesting ending. Admittedly, you do see it coming, but it's still enjoyable.
That's what I've been worried about for hundreds of pages. Maybe it's not what I'm expecting after all or will be handled in a way that makes it still interesting.

It's one of the few books that make you want to dwell on the descriptive scenes, rather than rushing on to the dialogue and action. The context is so well realised.
For me, it reads kind of like BladeRunner's LA after a few terms of Escher and Giger as town planner. :) It'd actually be more effective for me in small doses.

Revelation Space doesn't have an action hero, and the lead character isn't exactly likeable
Well, that's the problem with most all of Reynolds' stuff, which is less problematic in the short work because you don't have to spend so much time with them: I don't really like the vast majority of his characters. The lead character of RS struck me as extremely unlikeable. But our agonist in CC is not much fun either. The funky characters, like the funky cities, are more effective in small doses.

It's kind of funny: it's a convention that heroes never go to the bathroom or whatever. :) But we've spent hundreds of pages on what, IIRC, is about three or four days of present-time action, describing every ache and pain and increasing odor of the main character over every second of the day and night which actually makes that omission seem noticeable. That and eliding the one sex scene. The usual graphic details of violence like "his guts splattered against the wall like a Jackson Pollack painting" (Earth simile!) combined with vague impressionist work of sex like "and then the girl's robe dropped to the floor. And the next morning..." You'd think Reynolds was American or something. ;)

(To be clear, I made those last two up, though it's closer to paraphrase than invention.)
 

Coragem

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Any excitement for his next trilogy of books? Apparently it charts mankinds next eleven thousand years in space. (Then it's back to the Revelation Space universe. Yay!!!)
Well, it'll be interesting to see what the new trilogy looks like.

The release of the first book has been delayed to early 2012 apparently.

For me his extra-revelation space stuff hasn't, as I said before, been as good (with house of suns as the "possible" exception), but lets see if he can overcome that.

The new ones are supposed to be "hardish" sci-fi, which worries me a little. Hard sci-fi can lack heroes, and I kind of demand heroes of some kind -- which my favourite Reynolds books DO have:
Tanner in Chasm City
Clavain in Redemption Ark
The pig guy (damn my memory -- Scorpius?) in Absolution Gap
The detective (Tom Drayfus?) in The Prefect
The android guy in House of Suns

Coragem.
 

J-Sun

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[This post became a bit of a rant. It's not intended to offend anyone - different strokes, variety is the spice, etc. - I just seem to have about 700 pages of buildup that had to vent.]

That's what I've been worried about for hundreds of pages. Maybe it's not what I'm expecting after all or will be handled in a way that makes it still interesting.
Or not - it was what I was expecting, but that's about it. Finally finished it and just thought I'd report, sadly, that this one just didn't do it for me.

One thing that especially bugged me wasn't resolved but, rather, emphasized at the end. This gets totally spoilery, so:

***spoiler warning***


The original Tanner is made out to be some super warrior yet the Tanner through most of the story is constantly forgetting things or misjudging people or getting distracted or having Vadim sneak up behind him or getting taken prisoner or whatever. He does manage to take Vadim out eventually and he does have a single scene where he takes out three people and runs off with a girl and these are the *inconsistencies* - when he actually *does* behave like a super-warrior. And, of course, the actual Tanner throws a knife at the guy's *hand* (such a high-percentage throw), knocking the gun away... and thereby arming his enemy (albeit painfully) and allowing himself to get killed (though not with said knife), rather than throwing it at his head or chest - throwing it at Reivich's head a few moments earlier worked like a charm - why change tactics? But I'm supposed to believe that Tanner's shooting Gitta was his 'first and last mistake' when he seems to make mistakes every other page. And I was going to try to excuse it by saying it wasn't really Tanner and it was Sky being a goof, zoning out and losing his Tannerness (even though there was no evidence for that throughout the book) and the end area of the book emphasizes that Sky was really and totally supposed to be as Tannery as he could be. So there goes that excuse. And, I'm sorry, but Sky/Cahuella/Tanner is no kind of hero or redeemed guy to me. Making money off of immortals' fatal boredom while letting some of it trickle down to the hoi polloi and, maybe, someday, getting around to the tortured alien and killing fewer people than usual doesn't really qualify as Kim Kinnison in my book. ;) And, while someone might see it and argue me into it, I just don't really buy the character - which is almost the totality of the book: Sky got shut up in a dark room so became a mass-murdering psychotic and then, when people tried to crucify him (and thought they had), he became a much less evil evil guy. But when his wife was killed from good intentions, he tried to torture and kill his buddy. And from being his buddy for awhile (walking a light year in his shoes) he felt really bad about it and became a billionaire CEO. And this took 700 pages to get across. And, as I say, the action climax was a fangeus ex mouthina where the poor sap (sorry, super warrior) who got driven crazy by the guy who stole his "soul" gets finally killed by him - eaten by a snake again. Bah.

And, again, if you're going to be writing something space-opera-y, you're supposed to really love the idea of the future/alien societies and the physical realms those societies inhabit and so on. It's an extroverted physical sort of thing. This book hit me like the old New Wave navel gazing of introverted character psychology in which Chasm City (Sky was in chasm city, dude! Splitsville!) is more a metaphor for split personality and all the funky stuff down below that can come freaking out on top of the agonist's head than a real city in a real future history. Which is the point for a certain kind of fiction, but not usually my kind.



*** end spoilers ***
 

RichF

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I decided to give House of Suns a read, can't quite face the commitment of a series just yet! I'm about a third of the way through and enjoying it so far.

However, I might give Alastair Reynolds a break after this, I'm thinking about trying the Xeelee Sequence and saving the RS universe for a later date.
 

RichF

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Hi All,
Is this a good reading order for revelation space universe? No spoilers please :).

Great Walls of Mars*
Glacial*
A Spy in Europa*
Weather*
Dilation Sleep*
Diamond Dogs
Turquoise Days
Grafenwalder's Bestiary*
Nitingale*
Chasm City
Revelation Space
Redemption Ark
Absolution Gap
Galactic North*
The Prefect
*Galactic North short story

I think it's all in chronological order apart from The Prefect which someone advised to read after Chasm City and the 3 main novels.
 

clovis-man

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Hi All,
Is this a good reading order for revelation space universe?
I tried to respond to this earlier, but i think the hacker ate it.

Trying again.

If it was me, I'd read "The Prefect" first. It predates the Revelation Space universe in terms of story line. Then I'd read all of "Galactic North". From that point on, I'd follow the publication dates in terms of which to read next. "Chasm City" is something of a one-off story, so fit it in wherever you think it feels right. "Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days" is also something of a stand alone, so do what feels right, but probably after the first RS novel. Make sense? I hope so.

This would be more readable if the bold option were operating (not to mention the smileys)

:)
 

J-Sun

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This would be more readable if the bold option were operating (not to mention the smileys)

:)
You should still be able to make bold and smileys - just gotta do it manually. And with no noses. :)

[noparse]
You should still be able to make bold and smileys - just gotta do it manually. And with no noses. :)
[/noparse]
 

clovis-man

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You should still be able to make bold and smileys - just gotta do it manually. And with no noses. :)

[noparse]
You should still be able to make bold and smileys - just gotta do it manually. And with no noses. :)
[/noparse]
Yeah. I just didn't want to go to all the trouble of using that pesky html.
 

Vertigo

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RichF, that looks like it is cut from the post I put on another Reynolds thread and it certainly wroked for me. The Prefect can be read pretty much anywhere but I read it at the end, which again worked well for me.
 

Ursa major

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The stories in Galactic North cover such a wide time span - from well before any of the novels to well after - I'm not sure I wouldn't have wanted to read them all before the novels. (The ones set in our solar system are probably okay, I suppose.)
 

J-Sun

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Yeah. I just didn't want to go to all the trouble of using that pesky html.
Well, vbCode, but yeah. :)
The stories in Galactic North cover such a wide time span - from well before any of the novels to well after - I'm not sure I wouldn't have wanted to read them all before the novels. (The ones set in our solar system are probably okay, I suppose.)
There's a core part of that I agree with. I think it's actually okay to read all the stories but one before the novels (though I've only read Revelation Space and Chasm City of those) - I think it even helps provide more context, depth, resonance, whatever, with Pattern Juggler references and whatnot. But, if you intend to read the novels, in restrospect I would definitely suggest not reading the title story "Galactic North", itself.
 

clovis-man

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Well, vbCode, but yeah. :) There's a core part of that I agree with. I think it's actually okay to read all the stories but one before the novels (though I've only read Revelation Space and Chasm City of those) - I think it even helps provide more context, depth, resonance, whatever, with Pattern Juggler references and whatnot. But, if you intend to read the novels, in restrospect I would definitely suggest not reading the title story "Galactic North", itself.
Most of what's contained in the book Galactic North gives some valuable background. Especially regarding the Demarchist/Conjoiner dichotomy.

Also, RichF, I hate to tell you, but House of Suns isn't exactly a stand-alone. There's a novella prequel, "Thousandth Night", contained in Gardner Dozois' omnibus, One Million A.D. If you can track it down, it's well worthwhile.
 

Vertigo

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The stories in Galactic North cover such a wide time span - from well before any of the novels to well after - I'm not sure I wouldn't have wanted to read them all before the novels. (The ones set in our solar system are probably okay, I suppose.)
If you look at Rich's list you'll see that all the Glactic North Stories are *'d and have been split up. The particular order is based on a listing on, I think, Wiki. I found it worked pretty well with the earlier stories giving greater depth to the whole RS universe. I actually read Revelation Space first before I had seen that listing and do think I would have enjoyed/understood things better if I'd read at least some of them first.
 

Ursa major

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The danger of that book of short stories, though, is that you'll want to keep reading them beyond the point where you really should (even if you can recall the position of individual stories in Rich's list).
 

RichF

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The danger of that book of short stories, though, is that you'll want to keep reading them beyond the point where you really should (even if you can recall the position of individual stories in Rich's list).
I have nearly finished House of Suns now, really enjoyed it, hope there is a sequel on the cards one day.

I too am worried that I would end up reading all the short stories. I am still considering reading them in publication order but possibly starting with Chasm City as most people seem to agree it is a better introduction to the RS universe than Revelation Space.
 

Vertigo

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I really wouldn't worry too much about it Rich, the only books where the order is of any real significance are RS, RA and AG all the reast are sufficiently stand alone as to not really matter. Even the "one" story in Galactic North (Galactic North itself) is so far away from the other story arcs that it would make little difference reading it before the other books.
 

Ursa major

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Oddly enough, there can be inadvertent, not to say imaginary, spoilers.

I read The Prefect before Chasm City. Because of this, I constructed a theory about one rather important facet of life in the Revelation Space universe, based on something I read in The Prefect, which I could have avoided doing if I'd read Chasm City first.

Of course, if I'd read The Prefect before reading the Revelation Space trilogy, I wouldn't have know about that facet and so wouldn't have needed a (false) explanation for it.
 
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