I am a big Reynolds fan and shortly after reading BRE it already feels like one of my favorites. Though sharply different in tone than some of his mosI am a big Reynolds fan and shortly after reading BRE it already feels like one of my favorites. Though sharply different in tone than some of his most famous works, he returns to some of his favorite themes and in doing so sheds new light on them. I especially enjoyed seeing classic Reynolds themes and tropes presented with perhaps his best execution - this felt like a mature work in many ways. The "chase" at the end was exciting but considerably more restrained than his many previous uses of that device, and the ending felt earned and satisfying. I enjoy hard SF for the plot mechanics and Big Dumb Objects but I really enjoyed seeing Reynolds level up on characterization while reining in genre elements to a more effective level. ...more
First time I had read Stephenson (the doorstop-like nature of later works had put me off) but I really enjoyed this book. From the first sentence, youFirst time I had read Stephenson (the doorstop-like nature of later works had put me off) but I really enjoyed this book. From the first sentence, you know that this book is different. The writing style is very "big" but I thought it worked well for the concept of the book, which for me boils down to a show of bravado. Both the style and the plot were close to the line of "he's writing checks this book can't possibly cash" but when it all gets brought home in a pretty satisfying ending Snow Crash is all the more impressive for delivering on the bravado. Stephenson goes for something here and pulls it off nicely....more
This book has a strong reputation as a classic of sci-fi noir and I have to agree. Morgan has come up with a brilliant sci-fi conceit regarding the doThis book has a strong reputation as a classic of sci-fi noir and I have to agree. Morgan has come up with a brilliant sci-fi conceit regarding the downloading of human consciousness and how that allows for body swapping, but part of the genius of this book is that it doesn't dwell on this Big Idea. Instead, the book is a rocking and action-packed sci-fi detective story that takes you on a ride with a hard-boiled noir protagonist. The story is served by the conceit and not the other way around....more
I'm enjoying working my way through the Culture books and Use of Weapons tends to rate very highly with fans of the series. I liked this book when I rI'm enjoying working my way through the Culture books and Use of Weapons tends to rate very highly with fans of the series. I liked this book when I read it and at the time I appreciated what Banks did with the structure of the novel, but felt a little bit like I understood and admired his artistic intentions but didn't quite connect with the book. Looking back several months later I have to say that Use of Weapons has grown on me - I think the fullness of the story and the way it was put together has settled into a nice whole.
Three books in it seems to me that the genius of the Culture novels is that Banks finds a different point of entry each time, showing the Culture from different angles and focusing on different themes. For this reason I suspect different people will connect with different Culture books as their favorites. I'm surprised that so far The Player of Games has been my favorite Culture novel; it is meditative and "small" in its plot and I am usually attracted to driving plots and Big Dumb Objects.
If you're not reading the Culture books, you should be....more
I love this book. The oral history angle is genius and I really thought the author did a good job of writing in many different voices. The oral historI love this book. The oral history angle is genius and I really thought the author did a good job of writing in many different voices. The oral history concept gives the book a sense of reality and gravitas that made it gripping from the beginning. I also liked that you had to piece together the facts of what happened based on the statements of individuals; as a result a very episodic book is still a real page turner....more
I really liked this book a lot. I usually like space opera for the world building, big dumb objects, etc., but this book takes place largely outside tI really liked this book a lot. I usually like space opera for the world building, big dumb objects, etc., but this book takes place largely outside the Culture and its magical technology and I really enjoyed the focus on an individual's psyche, game playing and strategy, and small c culture. Though the plot spans the distance between our galaxy and its neighbor the Small Magellanic Cloud this is in many ways a very intimate story of the journey one man takes within himself. That being said, I do love a page turner and I found this book to be gripping - the plot turns weren't easy to see coming and I wanted to keep reading to see where Banks was taking the story.
The Culture novels are so widely praised that I was a bit disappointed that I liked, but didn't love, Consider Phlebas. I liked The Player of Games more so maybe the setting is growing on me, although I've heard there is considerable variation in the focus of the other Culture novels. I had intended to read them chronologically but I picked up a $2 used copy of Look to Windward so that may be next regardless....more
Another fine entry in the "Revelation Space" universe by Alastair Reynolds. Two very interesting novellas that provide some back story and color in atAnother fine entry in the "Revelation Space" universe by Alastair Reynolds. Two very interesting novellas that provide some back story and color in at the margins of the Revelation Space universe seen in the main sequence of novels. Diamond Dogs is a disturbing little tale of the price of obsession that really stays with you. Turquoise Days is a relatively more pleasant story that delves into the Pattern Jugglers, one of Reynolds' more interesting creations in this universe. Highly recommended for Revelation Space junkies, while others would do well to check out other books in the series first to get a broader grasp of this universe....more
Reading Iain Banks has been on my radar for some time and I finally got after it and picked up Consider Phlebas. A highly literate and enjoyable pieceReading Iain Banks has been on my radar for some time and I finally got after it and picked up Consider Phlebas. A highly literate and enjoyable piece of science fiction. I wasn't bowled over as many seem to be Banks and/or his books on The Culture, but I thought it was quite good and plan to read more novels of The Culture. I quite enjoy the imagination and world building aspects of science fiction and space opera is a great place for me to get that fix, and often with a page turner to boot....more
Another fine entry by Reynolds in the Revelation Space universe. I didn't enjoy this quite as much as Revelation Space but it was still pretty great.Another fine entry by Reynolds in the Revelation Space universe. I didn't enjoy this quite as much as Revelation Space but it was still pretty great. I find his books to be page turners in the sense that I stay up too late reading b/c I always want to know what happens next. I also think his characterization is pretty good, particularly for hard SF where this is generally not a virtue.
One specific point I want to make is in response to some other reviews. Several have faulted Reynolds for a particular battle that is not depicted, but rather skipped over. I had the opposite reaction - I thought, "that is a gutsy choice" and upon reflection realized that the battle was really a tangent to the main plot so I could see why you would leave it out. I'd be interested to know if the choice was Reynolds' or his editor's. If a stylistic choice by the author I think it is pretty interesting. Plus there is a lot of really good space battle stuff later on. And the thing I like about reading Reynolds is that when he is describing how a space battle plays out at relativistic speeds, you know that it is based in sound science.
I am glad I read the short story collection Galactic North in between Rev. Space and Red. Ark because it does enrich Red. Ark to know the detailed backstories of Clavain and Felka. However, the story Galactic North may be best saved until after you have read everything else in the Rev. Space universe....more
For those who enjoy short sci fi and the author's Revelation Space universe. The stories run more or less in chronological order, with the earliest stFor those who enjoy short sci fi and the author's Revelation Space universe. The stories run more or less in chronological order, with the earliest stories providing important background on some of the factions featured later on in this novels. I like the way Reynolds does space opera, and I like short stories, so I plowed through this book in a couple of days....more
Oddly I began reading Alastair Reynolds via one of his standalone books, Pushing Ice, and followed that with another standalone, Century Rain. Two verOddly I began reading Alastair Reynolds via one of his standalone books, Pushing Ice, and followed that with another standalone, Century Rain. Two very different books but I quite liked them both and resolved to read more Reynolds. For whatever reason I hadn't gotten around to starting his most well known books, the Revelation Space series. Finally a birthday coupon from Borders got me into a bookstore and I resolved to get some good old science fiction. Of course the store had science fiction and fantasy shelved together, so that I had to sort through a lot of D&D tie-in books (not that there is anything wrong with that) for the meager SF offerings. Glad to see they had Revelation Space though!
Reynolds is definitely a "big ideas" author and he keeps the science in his fiction generally plausible so I guess this would be "hard" SF. The universe seems well thought out and very lived in, and I enjoyed the book's take on interstellar travel, posthumanism, and the future look of human society. I found the plot itself fairly gripping, but many times the big ideas themselves were enough to keep me turning the pages. I give this book, and the other two Reynolds offerings I mentioned, a hearty thumbs up and I am planning to delve further into the Revelation Space series....more