Bella Lind and her crew of the Rockhopper push ice; that is they attach crude drives to icy comets and send them on their way to the inner solar system. But when Janus, one of Saturn’s moons, proves itself to be something very different by abruptly heading out of the solar system at high speed, the Rockhopper is the only ship in the system capable of catching it for a brief window of investigation before it gets too far away, that is assuming it doesn’t increase its acceleration.
Pushing Ice is classic Reynolds at his paint-it-on-a-huge-canvas best and yet it falls well short of his best books. That huge canvas, the ideas, concepts, vision and science, are as brilliant as ever, but his characters, never one of Reynold’s strongest points, are here quite dire. The main characters are all pretty much either unreasonably nice or equally unreasonably horrible. In particular the behaviour of one of the main characters is so appalling that I simply found their actions and motivations utterly implausible though possibly not as much as the way everyone else just quietly goes along with that behaviour. I know we humans can be a bunch of sheep at times but there are limits.
The pacing of the book is also somewhat uneven; it starts off well but in the middle becomes severely bogged down before finally beginning to pick back up towards the end. This unevenness, though annoying was not, however, a show stopper and the science kept moving along well enough to keep me reading… just.
Another minus was the ending which seemed to demand a sequel that Reynolds has never written. The whole conclusion felt desperately open ended.
An okay book but very much one where the science takes centre stage at the cost of the characters and, to some extent, the plot. The science and ideas are excellent but they were all that really held my attention, and the lack of any real conclusion coupled with the absence of a sequel made it ultimately somewhat unsatisfying. Sadly a long way from my favourite Reynolds work.
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