Review: Redemption Ark by Alistair Reynolds

Redemption Ark by Alistair Reynolds
Redemption Ark by Alistair Reynolds

Redemption Ark
Alistair Reynolds
Ace, 2003 (mmpb, Ace, 2004)

First line: The dead ship was a thing of beauty.

Redemption Ark is the third book in Reynolds Revelation Space series.  I inadvertently skipped the second novel Chasm City but thankfully Reynolds’ fiction, despite being part of a larger overarching story, manages to stand well enough on its own and I never felt like I was really missing anything major.  As when I read Revelation Space the first thing that strikes me about Reynolds’ writing is the staid, deliberate pace.  I can’t qualify this in any meaningful way, it isn’t good or bad, but it is certainly an aspect of his writing that for me took some time to warm up to.  More so then Revelation Space, Redemption Ark delves a bit deeper into unfamiliar society, particularly the nearly post-human Conjoiners, and lingers more consistently on technologies that are both new and completely fascinating.  Reynolds is an idea man and barely a chapter passed by without some new and shiny bit of technological wonder to fire up my imagination.

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Review: Nova War by Gary Gibson

Nova War by Gary Gibson
Nova War by Gary Gibson

Nova War
Gary Gibson
Tor, 2009

Nova War is the sequel to 2008’s Stealing Light a book that, surprise surprise, has yet to get a release here in the states.  Nova War dispenses with some of the mystery of the first novel and trading it instead for some serious action.  Indeed things are ratcheted right up to eleven and amongst all the action and excitement I felt that Gibson still managed to do an excellent job in creating unique and memorable characters and wound up with a book that surpassed its predecessor in terms of quality.  If you haven’t read the first book be warned there will be some minor spoilers below.

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Review: The Quiet War by Paul McCauley

The Quiet War by Paul McCauley
The Quiet War by Paul McCauley

The Quiet War
Paul McCauley
Pyr, 2009

In a future where Earth has been ravaged by economical disaster humanity is split down two divergent paths.  Down one path are the Outers, exiled first to the moon then to Mars and now settled on the moons surrounding Jupiter and Saturn they espouse the ideas of Ancient Greek Democracy and use genetic manipulation to modify their bodies in ways both practical and cosmetic. Meanwhile, on Earth the powerful Brazilian government, ruled by a class of powerful families, follows a nature based religion predicated on restoring the Earth, or Gaea, to her former glory.  These two societies find themselves at social and ideological loggerheads not only with each other but within divergent faction within each society as well.  It isn’t long before the spectre of war looms on the horizon.

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Review: Seeds of the Earth by Michael Cobley

Seeds of the Earth by Michael Cobley
Seeds of the Earth by Michael Cobley

Seeds of the Earth
Michael Cobley
Orbit UK, 2009 (MM, Jan 2010)

Seeds of the Earth is the first in a new space opera series by Michael Cobley.  The cover features a nice one line quote from space opera master Iain M. Banks describing the novel as “Proper galaxy-spanning space opera.”  A statement that couldn’t be more true.  Seeds of the Earth is very old school with a large cast of characters and a diverse and wonderfully vibrant phalanx of ideas that makes for an great read and excellent starting point in jumping from my epic fantasy reading of November into the stars and beyond.

Seeds of the Earth opens with humanity’s first contact with the alien Swarm.  Or at least the tail end of that conflict as we more or less witness the departure of three human colony ships (note: I read the prologue while I had a fever of 103 and, for shame, didn’t go back and re-read it after).  The novel picks up a century and a half later on the human colony world of Darien where, after struggling with the rogue AI of their colony ship, the humans have settled in a peaceful coexistence of the nature loving Uvovo.   The discovery of an ancient Uvovo ruin dating back thousands of years to a conflict with a powerful and mysterious enemy sets off a chain of reactions that thrusts Darien and its human and Uvovo inhabitants straight into danger.

More to follow with potential spoilers…

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Review: Open Your Eyes by Paul Jessup

Open Your Eyes by Paul JessupOpen Your Eyes
Paul Jessup
Apex Press, 2009

Open Your Eyes is perhaps one of the densest 152 page novellas I have ever read. It’s not that the language is difficult but rather the near constant barrage surrealistic imagery never slackened and so varied from character to character that keeping up was, at times, difficult; though not without rewards. It could be argued that for all its popularity the Space Opera no matter how imaginative or original frequently covers familiar, even comforting, elements from plot devices, to characters, to worlds. Open Your Eyes, is not too different in that. The novel has sentient ships, a ragtag space crew, and a mysterious alien threat but executes them in such a way that they feel like something else entirely.
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