Riju Ganguly's Reviews > Galactic North

Galactic North by Alastair Reynolds
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Aug 04, 12

Read from July 29 to August 04, 2012

I had encountered Alastair Reynolds’ work for the first time in those huge anthologies edited by Gardner Dozois in the 90-s which attempted to compile the best science-fiction (and occasionally fantasy) novella-length works annually. There, amidst boring and stiffly yawn-inducing works (which had become quite a craze, since the authors had thought that by going heavy on characterisation & dialogues, and light on action, they were “lifting” their works from the genre-ghetto to the level of literature), I had received quite a pleasant jolt when I had read Reynolds’ stories. This book brings 8 of them together. The stories are thematically linked (all of them take place in the ‘Revelation Space’ universe, involving & depending upon events that have been described at length in Reynolds’ novels), but they can all be read as stand-alone taut & sharp thrillers, and THAT is a very rare thing indeed.

The contents are: -
1. Great Wall of Mars: A brilliant story of diplomacy, attempted peace-making, sacrifice, betrayal, redemption, and non-stop action.
2. Glacial: Another brilliant science-fiction story, but even after taking away its stuff dealing with Conjoiners and futuristic technology, we have one of the finest murder-mysteries to read that belongs to the league of Asimov’s best mysteries.
3. A Spy in Europa: The shortest, and yet, arguably the best, thriller of the book, with surprises till the end.
4. Weather: This novella of piracy, action, suspense, and romance is one of the best stories of the book that is full of superlative works.
5. Dilation Sleep: A short horror story, which is connected to the events later described at length in the novel ‘Chasm City’, and it is somewhat rusty (naturally, since it was one of the first stories written by Reynolds, and since it has NOT been ‘polished’ for this book).
6. Grafenwalder’s Bestiary: A chilling story of obsession and revenge.
7. Nightingale: This novella, about a ghost-ship, a war-criminal, and an attempt to capture him unofficially, is one of the best thrillers that I have read in some time. It literally gave me shudders.
8. Galactic North: This story attempts to tie-up all the loose threads left by the three novels, combining it with a story of obsessive revenge & retribution, is the least satisfactory piece in the collection.
(*) Afterword: Reynolds candidly discusses about the making of the ‘Revelation Space’ universe, and his inspirations. I found this piece to be highly valuable from a reader’s point of view, as it mentions many other works that a reader would like to savour henceforth.

Highly recommended.
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