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Century Rain

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  8,264 ratings  ·  399 reviews
Three hundred years from now, Earth has been rendered uninhabitable due to the technological catastrophe known as the Nanocaust.Archaeologist Verity Auger specializes in the exploration of its surviving landscape. Now, her expertise is required for a far greater purpose.

Something astonishing has been discovered at the far end of a wormhole: mid-twentieth centur
Paperback, 626 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Ace (first published November 25th 2004)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  8,264 ratings  ·  399 reviews

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WOW! What a cracking - but crazy - read. I'm still reeling from it. It doesn't get muddled or daft and yet it has everything... really... everything: time travel, spies, archaeology, cyborgs, a love triangle, wars, wormholes, virtual reality, a quest, death and sacrifice, murder mystery (with all the usual clichés lovingly included), nanotech, code-breaking, genocide, bodysnatching/ swapping, bootleg music, ecological disaster, white-knuckle chases, wraith-like horror characters, alternative history, secre ...more
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
“That’s the problem, you see. I mean, time travel is definitely involved here, but not in quite the way you’re thinking.”

Time travel—but not as we know it—is the strongest, most imaginative and most remarkable aspect of Century Rain. The other Alastair Reynolds books I have read are all set in the far future*, a future so far flung practically nothing is recognizable except some human characters. Century Rain is quite atypical for Reynolds, it has two plot strands, one ostensibly set in 1959 and the other
This might become one of my favorite Alastair Reynolds novels. Why? Because he manages to turn one hell of a tale out of a kitchen sink worth of ideas. Great characters, from an ex-jazz musician/gumshoe from an alternate-timeline 1959, to a complex archeologist 300 years in the future sifting through the remains of a nanotech-eaten Earth, to wormholes, body-snatching, one hellofacool mystery, with murder, Casablanca vibes, and a nail-biting space battle that reminded me of Iain M. Banks and Neal ...more
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps Four and one half stars over all, "Century Rain" is a hard science adventure mixed with an old-style murder mystery.

B Schrodinger
Tagging 'Century Rain' was a harder job that expected. It's kind of an alternate history, but not quite. And it's kind of time travel, but not quite. But I can hang the science fiction and mystery tags with no second thoughts. So do these not quites make a not quite good story? Not at all. And while the book was not groundbreaking, nor did it take me to new undiscovered places and wonders, it was quite fun and held my attention all the way through.

Susan White died under suspicious ci
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Al Reynolds is an unpredictable writer. This time, instead of his usual dark hard sci-fi, he delivered something entirely different.

Set up on two levels, Earth in 2266 and an, let’s say, alternate one in 1959, the novel combines a highly technological post-apocalyptic world (which will never cease to amaze me) with a crime-mystery story and a musician-detective which at first I thought it was a combination between Poirot and Holmes, but later discovered that was inspired by inspector
Aug 26, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
First 40% was different and fun, very good.

My advice: Read the first 40% and then stop when "they leave". Pretend it was a novella and ends well.

Rest of the book was boring, long-winded verbal diarrhea, insulting. 250 pages too long. It's like those 1/2 hour documentaries on Discovery Channel that have been stretched to an hour, to fill space and add more advertising, repeating the same words and footage again and again. Crap.

NOTE: Please, please also read these Reynolds masterpiec
David Sven
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I learned a new word. Nanocaust. Artificially intelligent nanotech designed to control the weather and reverse global warming stops responding to human commands. More nanotech is designed to combat the rogue elements. They go rogue as well. After eight levels of nanotech are released the micromachines start consuming everything on sea and land for fuel – including us.

This story takes place some 300 years in the future. Nobody lives on Earth. Humanity is divided into two main groups – Threshers and Slashe
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chris by: Timothy
Shelves: scifi
Imagine how good Alastair Reynolds could be if he learned how to write a decent conclusion. However, the fact is that he writes fascinating, compelling stories, develops interesting, empathetic characters, and immerses you in incredibly detailed universes based on concrete possibility based in science.

And then he abandons them. Every single book of his I have read, including Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Chasm City and Absolution Gap continues with the plot at a breakneck pace, until the final 15-20 page
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
What to say?! This is a truly bonkers book - 500+ pages of wormholes, spaceships, alternate histories, 1950s detective fiction, romance, futuristic science fiction... There is a lot to enjoy in it, and a lot that I did enjoy, but unfortunately my overall impression isn't completely positive. The first two-thirds were good and there was some great, pacily written plot, interesting characters and touches of humour as the portion of the book set in an alternate Paris of 1959 came to its conclusion. ...more
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reread this with my sister for the first time in about ten years. It’s a book I’ve always thought fondly of; I enjoyed it, as a teen, but my sister adored it. It’s actually the book that got her back into reading after years of not caring for it at all. I enjoyed several of Reynolds’ other books, too, but haven’t read any of them for… actually, far too long. So how did it measure up?

Pretty darn well. The hard SF aspect I enjoyed less than I used to (though I also grasp it better th
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
5 stars

 This fairly long novel is a true testament to the fact that sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. This is an accessible hard science book mixed together with an early detective noir story.

  As for the science it reaches for some very big concepts and contains many intriguing technologies. It however is lite compared to that of the wondrous science from the Revelation Space series.  The world building however, is top notch and the back story of
Paris, noir murder investigation, time-travel, archaeology. Gimme, gimme, gimme!!! I do so love it when a writer takes all my favorite things and puts them into a book I can devour excitedly. A part of me is always a bit frustrated I wasn’t there early enough to write it myself, but what can you do? I opt to simply enjoy the ride.

In 2266, a nano-robot apocalypse has forced humans off their home planet; Verity Auger is an archaeologist who digs up evidence of the past civilisation fro
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've recently become a big fan of Alastair Reynolds, and with good reason! His currently released clutch of Science Fiction stories are inventive, well written, suspenseful, surprisingly close to actual scientific theory and generally really rather good. Despite his great writing style, it's always worth noting that, while many of his stories work as stand alone reads, they really are best when tied into the overarching world, and the explanations of his plethora of inventive new technological m ...more
Liviu Szoke
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this wonderful book back in 2011, without knowing that Alastair Reynolds will become my favorite SF writer. Think about a noir-alternate universe-postapocaliptic-hard SF novel. Oh, and I forgot about the horrible scary children-fighters who hunt the main character at some point, so this novel takes some horror turnings, as well. If some romanian publisher will translate this book, I am sure that many readers will become very happy (the same like me, of course)!
This is my first Reynolds book. I was very impressed by the idea of this book and the science behind it. While during a few parts I felt like it was a little over my head, he mostly keeps it understandable for all readers. It was a very interesting plot and I enjoyed that it never felt boring even though it's a longer book.

While his idea and concept for the story were great, he lacked in several areas. The characters were fairly flat - which was tolerable in the older sci-fi books but I rather
John Boettcher
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite three of Reynold's books, even though it is a stand alone book that is in no way connected with his wonderful Revelation Space series.

This book combines two story lines in a quite entertaining way, implementing elements of mystery, crime solving, space and time travel, different worlds, strange characters and creatures, and a great plot. Character development is well above par and while not a character study by any stretch of the imagination, hardly any of Reynolds books are,
I can't remember why I first picked up this book, but I read it twice very soon after getting it (and believe me, it's another of those on the "to read again" list). There's something of the detective novel in it, and it's certainly sci-fi -- not quite sure if it goes into cyberpunk, because I'm no good with genres. There are two parallel stories in this that converge, and the best you can hope for is a bittersweet ending. I read the whole book in about half a day because I really didn't want to ...more
...I don't think Reynolds quite managed to really connect the noir and science fiction elements of the story. Century Rain is an interesting novel, one that certainly succeeds in creating a dark atmosphere, but when it comes to the right mix of elements I think it falls short of the level of Chasm City or The Prefect. The novel simply has too many problems to be called good. I still enjoyed reading it, its not a book I would consider putting away after a few chapters, but it won't end up at the top of favourite ...more
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2000s
Century Rain is a sci-fi detective story. If you have read other books of Reynolds, it is in the style of Chasm City. However, Century Rain is a completely stand-alone book and does not take place in the Revelation Space universe.

Wendell Floyd, in 1959 Paris, a private detective, is asked to investigate a murder. The police have written off the death of a young woman as either suicide or accident, but the woman's landlord is convinced it was murder. Floyd and his partner note some od
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Verity Auger is an archaeologist of sorts, a specialist in her field at exploring Earth after the Nanocaust.
When a field trip goes badly wrong she is chosen to lead another dangerous mission, a back door in a transit system that takes her back to mid twentieth century earth to recover the effects of a murdered agent before it falls into enemy hands.
Aided by a detective on a baffling case they try to retrace Susan White's footsteps before her murder to find out what she knew but they
Anthony O'Connor
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another solid, thought-provoking and entertaining read from Alastair Reynolds. Despite having one of the more batshit crazy premises I've ever read - featuring a nanomachine holocaust, alternate earths, wormholes, evil children, alternate history, space battles, jazz, French people - the whole caper actually traces a pretty traditional arc, albeit a satisfying one.

In terms of his other books, it wasn't quite on the level of Chasm City, Revelation Space or the Prefect, but still well
Mar 10, 2019 marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is an interesting take on the alternate Earth trope, but after awhile I just got bored.
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was ok

I would give this one two and a half stars. It definitely isn't among Reynold's best works. I think the concept was good, but it wasn't actualized as well as it should have been. It is kind of Reynold's take on a time travel story, although it isn't true time travel as we are used to it. The problem is that those differences detract rather than stand out, in my opinion.

Alastair Reynolds is known for having a TON of different ideas. He has written a plethora of short stories all set
This book had just about everything that I love in a good story. I was quite surprised, having read some of Alastair Reynolds works before and finding them hard science fiction, enjoyable, but unwilling to compromise the hard science element for the purpose of story. But this book has become one of my favourites. Probably not in the ten books I'd dive for in a fire if they were the last remaining copies on earth, but definitely in the top twenty.

The story follows two characters on two different
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book started off really, really well. There are two PoV characters, one from an alternate 1959 France, and one from the 23rd century. The buildup was excellent. When I was slightly more than halfway done, I was sure this was at least a 4 star novel.

Unfortunately, as soon as the two protagonists get together the novel loses steam. I didn't find the central relationship credible. Even worse, as the main mysteries of the plot are revealed, it's clear they don't make sense. People (
Matt Vickers
Jun 01, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didnt-finish
After reading The Man in the High Castle I realised that I was reading this book for the wrong reasons. This is a book of ideas that lacks any realistic or interesting characters: they are merely mouthpieces for the advancement of the plot. The writing is clunky and the dialogue is just horrible.

The book is not without merit: it explores some very clever concepts, but frankly I'd rather have the ideas presented to me in a lecture than have them dressed up in bad prose and drip-fed to me through
Really 3.5 stars; struggled with whether to round up or down. Rounded up because I had a kick-ass time listening to this audiobook. Story wasn't perfect. Cheesy but cool-cheesy, not crappy-cheesy. John Lee's voice married perfectly with Alastair Reynold's voice once again. Dig it.
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first Alastair Reynolds read.CENTURY RAIN turned me into instant fan.

Moving away for the first time beyond the Revelation Space universe, Alastair Reynolds creates in Century Rain one of his most ambitious and strangest novels of his career, combining the alternative history and the time-travel into an incredible detective, interstellar thriller, that - through his enchantingly scientific writing - takes us into unknown galaxies, and into an amazing adventure that doesn’t fail impress once again.

In the distant 23rd century, the evolutionar
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I'm Al, now a Goodreads author. 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 f ...more
“Enjoy it, kid. Enjoy feeling that you can make a difference.' Floyd flashed him a smile. 'It won't last for ever.” 11 likes
“Niagara made a careful gesture, like some religious benediction: a diagonal slice across his chest and a stab to the heart. ‘A slash and a dot,’ he said. ‘I doubt it means anything to you, but this was once the mark of an alliance of progressive thinkers linked together by one of the very first computer networks. The Federation of Polities can trace its existence right back to that fragile collective, in the early decades of the Void Century. It’s less a stigma than a mark of community.” 1 likes
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