Chasm City
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Chasm City (Revelation Space standalone)

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  8,673 ratings  ·  369 reviews
In a city overrun by a virus that attacks both man and machine, an agent pursues a lowlife postmortal-and uncovers a centuries-old atrocity that history would rather forget.
ebook, 704 pages
Published May 27th 2003 by Ace Books (first published January 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David Sven
Chasm City. Originally settled by self-replicating robots carrying the genetic material to construct humans on site ahead of a more conventional colonisation. A city built around a chasm that spews gas and steam that is harnessed to generate energy and atmosphere. A city that experienced a 200 year utopia known as the Belle Epoche where technology advanced to the stage where implants and nanotechnology made immortality viable. A city where buildings were grown and designed by nano machinery. A c...more
Joel
Is this what a China Miéville novel would be like if China Miéville wasn't so much with the prose? Because like China, Alastair Reynolds is totally horny for the Big Idea (and perhaps even better than him at actually providing a sort of logical justification for all the weird and wacky world-building he does, though that simply might be a circumstance of his preferred genre -- hard sci-fi -- more or less demanding that kind of effort from an author.) (Also he is an ex-scientist of some sort.)

So,...more
Ian
The family's godfather sat back in his plush leather recliner and calmly ordered the hit, like the man who was about to be murdered was nothing more than a bug to be squashed …

The crack sniper squinted through his gun's sight, aligning the target's forehead in the crosshairs, and pulled the trigger with no second thoughts or remorse …

The muck and grime of the city's underworld didn't alarm him at all, as he trudged through the rain-flooded streets in search of his prey …

Come one, come all, see t...more
Ben Babcock
We all have triggers, certain topics in our beloved genres that instantly make us sit up and pay attention. Artificial intelligence is one such trigger for me; identity is another. (Both touch on philosophy of the mind, a field that fascinates me, and I suspect this is why they intrigue me.) There is scant AI in Chasm City, but there is plenty of reflection on identity and the ramifications of using technology to alter one’s identity. As every other review notes, this book is part of the Revelat...more
Apatt
“I’ve been sent here to kill someone who probably doesn’t deserve it, and my only justification for it is some absurd adherence to a code of honour no one here understands or even respects.”
While reading the book I was a little bothered by the protagonist's motivation which did not make a lot of sense to me. Suddenly Alastair Reynolds addressed my problem directly and things begin to fall into place. This book is a very intricately plotted sf novel with strong element of a noir thriller, but t...more
Lee
Once again Alastair Reynolds has me all over the place with my thoughts on his books. There are parts of this story that I throughly enjoyed and would happily give four stars and then there are great rafts of it that I found dull and couldn't wait for the chapter to end. Thus three stars is the result.

Chasm City has some Revelation Space theme to it, but you couldn't be faulted in thinking that there were two Alastair Reynolds in the authoring world. This story is told in such a different way t...more
Jurgen_i
It's a great sci-fi book, maybe one of the best of this century. There are three main points, why it is so good.

1. First is a plot. It is interesting, captivating and consistant, but this isn't so important. Composition is. There are three story lines, from the first glance almost unconnected. But when they finally merge, you can see, how good Reynolds is. This composition is kind of quirky, but it makes the whole picture very beautiful.

2. This is hard sci-fi. Reynolds is a physicist, so his fic...more
Princessjay
This novel tried my patience. It was a struggle to plough through these 600+ pages, with seemingly no payoff at the end to warrant reams and reams of not-particularly-active "action" and a plot twist that could be seen a thousand miles away.

Too much description, scenery-setting, exposition, people talking without purpose. Too many damned words that contributes little to the reader's understanding of the world, its history, etc. Ultimate fail: what should be background overwhelms the foreground.

A...more
Guillermo Azuarte


"How long would you have to live; how much good would you have to do, to compensate for one act of pure evil you'd committed as a younger man?"

Redemption. It seems to be one of Reynold's favorite themes. It was prevelant in the Revelation Space series, and it takes
center stage in Chasm City.

It's normal for Alastair's novels to push the 500 page mark, but unlike other works I've read in this genre, his stories
are lean and mean. This is the leanest and meanest story I've read of his. Although t...more
Robert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Swaps55
Aug 08, 2007 Swaps55 rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci-fi fans, sci-fi writers
This is the first alastair Reynolds book I read, and I was so blown off my ass I couldn't think straight for a few days. This guy has the perfect toolkit for writing science fiction: a background in astrophysics, an amazing imagination, a strong sense of character and a compelling plot with a deserving ending. What attracts me most to his writing is his uncanny grasp of human nature and human behavior, and what it would evolve into when projected into the future, when technological advancements...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Chasm City is a rare breed - a complex well-integrated multi-layered plot and a page turner with satisfying pace right up to the end. It is a book that makes you wonder in delight but at the same time envelopes you in tension and mystery. It will engage with your mind and leave you very satisfied at the end.
Lightreads
I am so jaded: you read one book about plagues that eat nanotechnology, and religious experience as the result of an indoctrinal neurovirus, and the particular kind of psychosis that results from decades-long sublight space flights, you’ve read them all.

Particularly when you’ve actually read three, all by the same guy. Seriously, Alastair Reynolds, think about something else!

And this book is a mess anyway – bloated, terrible dialogue (seriously, the narrator of my audiobook did the best anyone...more
Oscar
Esta novela de Alastair Reynolds, es la segunda incursión del autor en el Universo de Espacio Revelación, aunque puede leerse de manera independiente. Estamos ante una space-opera de corte clásico, en el que el sentido de la maravilla y la imaginación se encuentran a raudales, sobre todo en el primer tercio de la novela.

Tanner Mirabel es una asesino a sueldo que busca al asesino de la esposa de su jefe, para lo que tendrá que viajar a Ciudad Abismo en busca del culpable, de nombre Argent Reivich...more
Nicole
I liked this even better than Revelation Space. It does a few of the same things (unreliable narrators, switching between viewpoints/times), but more successfully than the earlier book. I did not see the main twist coming whatsoever, which rarely happens. Kind of a brick though - I'm ready for something a bit shorter now!
Sfmurphy
Originally published at Strange Horizons.

On the nitrogen-methane world of Yellowstone, within the domed enclosure of Chasm City, humans had perfected a utopian civilization founded on nanotechnology. During the twenty-sixth century, Chasm City was considered the apex of cultural and technological achievement in human space. Immortality was taken as a basic right and the buildings themselves grew like trees.

Newcomer Tanner Mirabel, combat veteran turned security consultant, finds something diffe...more
Cass
The book opened with a letter explaining, to the newly arrived visitor, why the planet was nothing like the brochure. It was a corny way to begin a book, it was easy, it was a shortcut.

Having said that it was actually an interesting read. If the author had stopped there and published it as a short-story I would have really enjoyed it. However the book began and the tone, not surprisingly, was completely different to the letter. For the first time in my life I flicked to the back to see if I like...more
Danielle Parker
Alastair Reynolds writes big books. Big in size: Chasm City is nearly 700 pages in the paperback mass market edition, and stuffed with enough detail on its future setting to fill a travel brochure. Big in scope: good and evil, vast reaches of time and space, men and mutant pig-men and aliens from the void. Chasm City is like a bowl of wildly overflowing yeast. Even the author can’t punch it down to an entirely manageable shape.

We start out with two interleaving story lines. One seems to concern...more
Cecily
I read this because Alistair Reynolds is my teenage son's favourite author. Although it is sometimes labelled as Revelation Space book 2, he reckoned this was the best book and has the advantage of being readable as a standalone story.

Although you could summarise it as a long chase story of hunter and hunted, it is a complex and well-written page turner (and there are quite a lot of pages), the main theme of which is the nature of identity and the effects of various ways of changing it (e.g. bo...more
Forrest Norvell
There's a pleasant attempt at 80s-style dystopian cyberpunk decadence crossed with widescreen space opera hiding somewhere in this baggy, shambling novel, but you have to wade through a lot of flat characterization, tin-eared dialog, and predictable plotting to get to it. If tragedy is the combination of irony and inevitability, its shadow hovers over the proceedings, but the blindingly obvious signposting of the narrative greatly weakens the effect. More ruthless editing would have helped this...more
Virginia
This author has such strong faith that space elevators will be used in the future! They've appeared in most of his books that I've read so far.

I listened to this as an audiobook - the mental image I had of many of the people involved is something close to my WH40K inquisitors - violent in the name of religion (some of them), genetically modified, etc. It's got an interesting premise - questions about the identity of self and the moral implications of genetic engineering, as well as the mental s...more
Chad Warner
I enjoyed the first three quarters of the book, but then it became too bizarre for my tastes. It’s also darker than I prefer; several characters are twisted and cruel, and there are a few gruesome injuries and deaths. The novel jumps between three main storylines at different points in humanity's future, each one littered with suspenseful cliffhangers.

I liked the futuristic technology, including the space tech and medical tech, including the genetic modifications. I also liked reading the story...more
Bill
This was pretty big novel. After about 500 pages, it seemed that perhaps it was a little too big.

The story definitely has a noir feel to it. Imagine crossing Blade Runner with, say, The Bourne Identity. Unfortunately, as one reviewer also put it, it was getting rather repetitive with all the gun pointing and expository speeches.
I had gotten tired of it and was seriously considering putting it down and moving on. But, Reynolds' writing is very easy to digest, and I decided it wouldn't
take that m...more
Rob
Chasm City is Reynolds' second novel and it's set in his Revelation Space universe. Unlike Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap , which have to be read in that order, this book is a standalone and can be read without any prior knowledge of the Revelation Space universe. I enjoyed Chasm City tremendously. Had I finished it last year it would probably have been on the best of 2009 list.

Full Random Comments review
Luke Burrage
Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #158.

It's been a long time since I read this, and I forgot how awesome it is. I think it was the first Alastair Reynolds novel I read too.
Roddy Williams
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sean
Reynolds' second foray into his Revelation Space universe, taking place just prior to events of "Revelation Space". Follows mercenary Tanner Mirabel as he travels to a different system in pursuit of an assassination target. Tanner arrives in Chasm City and begins tracking his target while suffering odd flashbacks related to legendary criminal Sky Haussman. "Chasm City" inhabits the same well fleshed out universe that was introduced in "Revelation Space". It's as well-written as the earlier novel...more
Clay Brown
Well, it’s been awhile since our last Book Review, but know that I haven’t stopped reading! Not at all. I have five books sitting right over there on my desk, so do keep coming back to By The Book. The good thing about Blogs is that you don’t have to be concerned too much about posts. Just as long as your Blog has a pulse that is. There is nothing bleaker than a Blog that is just sitting there… better to erase it.

But back to our business at hand, Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds. As I mentioned i...more
Vanessa
Tanner Mirabel's memories have been messed with. A soldier bent on revenge because of the death of his employer, he chases the killer, traveling cryogenically across space to the planet Yellowstone, where the great-domed Chasm City flourishes. Or, rather, used to flourish.

So while Tanner is recovering from amnesia after-affects of the deep freeze, he's also re-living the memories of Sky Haussmann--an anti-hero from Tanner's home planet. Only the memories come in the form of dreams caused from a...more
Matt
There seems some speculation as to the order in which it is best to read these "Revelation Space" books. Reynolds himsel says the Revelation Space - Redemtiopn Ark - Absolution Gap trilogy should be read first dhen Chasm City and The Prefect as asides. I think that Chasm City is a great prequel or introduction to the is Universe and does not harm the plot or future storylinesof the main Trilogy to be read first. In fact it is not until you read this that references to Calvin Sylveste, The Eighty...more
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51204
Alastair Reynolds, former scientist and now full-time writer. Most of what he writes is science fiction, with a strong concern for scientific verisimilitude (although he is prepared to break the rules for the sake of a good story). He has lived in England, Scotland and the Netherlands where he worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency until 2004, but now makes his home back in his...more
More about Alastair Reynolds...
Revelation Space (Revelation Space, #1) Redemption Ark (Revelation Space, #2) House of Suns Absolution Gap (Revelation Space, #3) The Prefect

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“There was something heartbreakingly beautiful about the lights of distant ships, I thought. It was something that touched both on human achievement and the vastness against which those achievements seemed so frail. It was the same thing whether the lights belonged to a caravel battling the swell on a stormy horizon or a diamond-hulled starship which had just sliced its way through interstellar space.” 6 likes
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