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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  3,988 ratings  ·  475 reviews
Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future. Alastair Reynolds unfolds a time-traveling climate fiction adventure in Permafrost.

2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity’s future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global cata
Kindle Edition, 192 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,988 ratings  ·  475 reviews

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Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant post-apocalyptic thriller, Permafrost is a well-written and fast-paced novela which keeps you enthralled from the first sentence. Our hero protagonist has just killed Vikram, whoever that is. We don't find out who Vikram is until much later. We soon find out that the hero/murderer is a 71 year old woman who uses a cane. Try selling that to a movie studio!

Mankind will soon meets its end if viable seeds are not found. A World Health Organization group headed by intrepid Dr. Cho has disco
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Time wasn’t a river, she said, and it wasn’t a circuit-diagram. Nor was it a tree with multiple branches. It was a block structure, more like a crystal lattice than any of those old dead-end paradigms. It was a lattice that spanned the entire existence of the universe, from beginning to end. There were no alternate histories, no branches where the Roman empire never fell or the dinosaurs were never wiped out. Just that single lattice, a single fixed structure. We were in it, embedded in its matr ...more
Aug 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: from-library, 2020
Even time travel becomes normal when it’s your day job.

There is the beginning of a really good book here. In 2080, humanity is on its last generation after an environmental catastrophe known as the Scouring. But a group of scientists in Russia have developed a method to contact someone in 2028 (I won’t spoil how) who might be able to make a small change in the past that might save humanity from the edge of extinction. The main characters in this book, Valentina Lidova and Tatiana Dinova, have an
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Nope! No way Jose'. Hit the road Jack. Loser, loser you're a fucking Hoosier. "Sorry, blame it on Pence." This was not my groove. I wanted chills, not spy-fy. ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4.5 stars. This clever SF novella is just my brand of literary crack. Climate change, time travel paradoxes, shifting reality, the past affecting the future and vice versa — it’s all here. A 71 year old Russian widow is the main character, and she’s GREAT. And the plot is intricate but actually makes logical sense through all of it, and I am HERE for that.

Full review to come!
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Second Read - March 2021 (5 stars)
I read this again exactly two years to the day from my first read; it is included in the anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 5: Volume Five. Neatly laying out complex ideas and providing a tightly woven story with engaging characters, "Permafrost" remains one of my favourite time travel stories.

First Read - March 2019 (5 stars)
A really excellent time travel story that ticked all the boxes for me. Immediately interesting characters populate a n
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
It is Alastair Reynolds we are talking about. Do I need to say anything more ?
Another brilliant work by this very gifted author, who has brought some sorely needed fresh air to the field of contemporary science fiction.
This is a short post-apocalyptic time-travel novel, with some masterly contrived and highly original twists that put new spins to this well-exploited genre.
The only reason why I have not given a 5-star rating to this novel is that I found it a but too short. But make not mistakes
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My very first story by this author and I liked it very well.

Time travel is always tricky. Even more so when you're ... well ... out of time. As are Valentina and a group of scientists in the Arctic Circle. You see, an environmental catastrophe known as the Scouring resulted in this (2080) seeing the last human generation. This is the last effort, the only chance to fix the past and thus save the future.
Valentina is supposed to travel back in time. Well, kind of. I shan't spoiler the scientific
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An exquisite, small masterpiece. Brilliant and poignant. Wonderful.

As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary of the book. Thank you.

At first in this gem, the skipping around in time can be confusing. Stick with it. Your mind will expand as the book proceeds, absorbing the paradoxes, filling your mind with the superposition of Valentina and Tatiana, binding your heart to theirs. Wonderful and amazing. Perfect in every way.

It's so nice to be back into Reynolds'
Holly (The GrimDragon)
4.5 Stars~

"It had taken one shot. The sound of it had echoed back off the buildings. Crows had lifted from a copse of trees nearby, wheeling and cawing in the sky before settling back down, as if killing was only a minor disturbance in their daily routine."

Permafrost is my introduction to Alastair Reynolds, even though I may or may not own entirely too many of his books without ever having actually read anything by him (I do).
Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of literary time travel. It's been don
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, 2020-shelf
I think I must have read at least a hundred time-travel novels (or novellas) in my life but I've never come across one with THIS particular analogy.

No time stream or branching. It's a glacier. *shiver*

I love it.

Oh, and the tale itself is top-notch, full of wonderful characterizations, complicated and believable plot, and stakes that get amazingly high.

In other words, it's pure Alastair Reynolds. :) It should to be a must-read for all you fans. :)
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is outstanding science fiction. A short, and fully powerful masterpiece. The time warped order form reflected the plot perfectly as well.

It's not for all readers. Not only does it demand minutia attention to the max, but scientific/ physics knowledge helps to fully conceptualize the whole. Yet you will also need imagination for personality and self-identity. And concepts of selflessness demanded.

The posit and evidence of mind melds in this scenario was as good as any I've ever read. The pr
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
A short book that could have been longer. I would have liked to know more about the characters. And some parts of the story didn't quite....flesh out. It was too short. But it was engaging and has some heartfelt moments. I liked that it took place in Russia. This was my first book by this author. ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A really impressive time travel sci-fi, despite not a very long one. But in this case, it is more of a pro, than a con.

Also, the story is very well written - it id fun and easy to read, and quite easy to follow, which is a no small feat when speaking about hard sci fi and time traveling paradoxes, etc. Yet, there are a couple of mistakes in the timetable that breaks the magic of the story.

Though I usually don't like when authors manipulate their readers, in this case I liked how Reynolds playe
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked the idea, the characters and the execution a lot. Vikram;s story really impressed me.

But I had a problem with the fly and, unfortunately, it sticked with me: if Valentina is 70yo and this is 2080, and the scouring started happening at about 2050, how come she has never seen a fly in the first ~40 years of her life?
"It’s a fucking fly, Valentina.
I know. I’ve seen flies. But only in photographs. To hold one . . . to see it alive . . . this is astonishing.
You really weren’t kidding, wer
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love novellas. When done right, they’re the perfect form of fiction. No unnecessary ramblings. No swollen midsections. The demands of the format require clarity and intensity. Easier said than done, but Reynolds nailed things down - Permafrost is almost perfect.

Set in 2080, it shows humanity on the verge of extinction because of the environmental disaster. Famine and severe food insecurity are rampant.

Something bad happens around 2050. At first, we almost don’t notice it. There’s a steepenin
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really good! The author makes an unusual and terrific choice in his main character, a 71-year old schoolteacher, who’s chosen to assist in a critical and delicate project to travel back in time to make a small change, thereby allowing humanity to have a future.
This story is a terrific exploration of time travel as a tool to repair a worldwide climate catastrophe that really considers the effects of the characters’ actions both in the present, past and future. And, not only are the main
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone
Permafrost is easily my favorite time travel story. This one would be right at home in my favorite book of all time, Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds. I enjoyed Permafrost every bit as much as Zima Blue, Diamond Dogs, Troika, and the rest of Al's best short stories and novellas.

Don't want to say too much here and give anything away, but read this one, especially if you liked Beyond the Aquila Rift. I would also say if you enjoy books like Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, you wi
Matthew Galloway
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love a good time travel story that figures out how to deal with its paradoxes -- whether it's through cleverness or hand wavy-ness. This one definitely finds a way to deal with them. The reason I loved this novella, though, was Valentina and Tatiana. There wasn't a lot of time to establish characters, but Reynolds did it and I was rooting for them so hard. If there is anything to criticize, it's just that I wished this were a little bit longer. Obviously it was still effective, for me, with it ...more
Carbonbased Bookworm
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ladies and gentlemen, this is how to write an awesome time travel story.
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, science-fiction
The title picture declares "Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future." covering the essence of this 130 pages long time travel / clifi novella.

This is a novella, and risks being deleted by some GR admin. My review is accessible on my blog.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Very good time travel thriller. Reynolds puts a new spin on some old themes, with some inventive time travel science, mind bending paradoxes, and a future facing impending doom from total environmental collapse. I'm generally not a huge fan of time travel stories, as they tend to make my brain hurt too much, but Reynolds does an excellent job walking the reader through what could be some bewildering scenarios. ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
4.5 Stars

Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds is a time travel novella that is tailor made to my likes. I am a biased reviewer as Reynolds might just be my favorite author today and hard science fiction is my genre of choice.

What a fabulous read,
Rachel (Kalanadi)
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed this take on time travel. I would have liked a longer ending, as final revelations seemed rushed.
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a very satisfying little novella. Man I wish it was a chunky long book. Very nice time travel story. Reynolds usual fast paced action and darkly moody characters.
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels-read
Lazy ending, doesn't follow its own rules.

I was ready to give this book 4 stars, but near the end the author decided to break the time travel and paradox rules he had been establishing along the way, and it all ended up making no sense.

*** SPOILERS ***

At various points it is established that if something changes in the timeline, the change will affect both reality and the memory of every person. If somebody makes a change in the past, that change will alter the future, and nobody will remember
Valentina, a teacher in her seventies, agrees to go back in time to aid in the delivery of some seeds that might prevent the end of humanity.

This is a very good time travel novella. It had a lot of twists, quite a few of which I didn't see coming. I enjoy reading a book that makes me pay attention as information is slowly added piece by piece. The story dangled the 'is this time travel technology being used for good or bad' and made me want to not put the book down.

This is the first book I've
Elizabeth Tabler
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you would like to read more of my reviews or various other bookish things, please come by my blog at

The ironic thing about the novella, Permafrost, is that in Permafrost, nothing is permanent. The name belies the content. The future, the past, and the present are all malleable constructs.

I haven't read any Alastair Reynolds books previously, although I am very familiar with his books. I have wanted to read Redemption Ark forever. If you are looking for sincere and
Kat  Hooper
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Kara Babcock
Every single review panning this story for not making sense is entirely deserved. Time travel stories are difficult to write and, even when written well, difficult to parse and read. If it’s not your thing, that’s fine.

But Permafrost is so very much my thing.

In structure, it reminds me of Palimpsest , by Charles Stross. Both are novellas with a single protagonist recently initiated in time travel. Both are fairly convoluted in terms of how the author implements the logical principles of time
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Ending inconsistencies? (spoilers of course) 1 19 May 16, 2019 11:37AM  

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I'm Al, I used to be a space scientist, and now I'm a writer, although for a time the two careers ran in parallel. I started off publishing short stories in the British SF magazine Interzone in the early 90s, then eventually branched into novels. I write about a novel a year and try to write a few short stories as well. Some of my books and stories are set in a consistent future named after Revela ...more

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