Cecily's Reviews > Chasm City

Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds
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Apr 21, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: scifi-future-speculative-fict
Read in May, 2009

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. body mods, memory implants, nanotech, DNA manipulation, immortality, reefersleep to travel through time and space).

There are three main stories, set in different times and places and it swaps between them without ever being confusing. The main one concerns Tanner Mirabel's attempt to track down and kill Argent Reivich for revenge. This involves leaving his home planet of Sky's Edge and travelling to Chasm City on Yellowstone, once rich and technologically advanced, but now devastated by a nanotech virus. The gap between the poor who live in the Mulch and the rich in the Canopy is extreme and the idle rich liven their lives in dangerous ways. Previously, Mirabel was an ex soldier, hired as private security/bodyguard for Cahuella, a rich arms dealer with many enemies. Cahuella, and one hunting expedition in particular, is the second thread. The third strand follows Sky Haussman and is set a couple of hundred years earlier. Sky grows up as crew on one of a flotilla of space ships sent to colonise a new world. There are rivalries within and between ships, including deaths. Obviously as the book progresses, the links between these different stories gradually emerge.

The science is plausible and invariably explained as a natural part of the story, though occasionally he kept me waiting for the explanation rather longer than I wanted. Reynolds has a good feel for characters' inner thoughts and emotions (something that is not always true of sci fi) and manages to make each distinct without resorting to gimmicky dialects and non-standard spelling, although they somehow seem a little flat at the same time. He's also very good at helping the reader visualise all the strange worlds in glorious detail - at times I could "see" it as if I was watching a film.

There were a few sections that were a little clichéd, especially the ending, which felt a little rushed after nearly 600 leisurely pages, but overall, I thought it was a very good read.
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02/28/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Apatt An undiscovered Cecily review no less! Now I feel like Christopher Columbus!


Cecily So you're going to claim it for Thailand, even though I was here first?
;)


message 3: by Apatt (last edited Jun 25, 2015 08:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Apatt Cecily wrote: "So you're going to claim it for Thailand, even though I was here first?
;)"


I just noticed this review is 6 years old. Is your son still in his teens? I can't even remember the book's rushed ending, may be it rushed by too fast for me to retain! I think you ought to update this review (great as it is) and put in the word "sat" somewhere to show people how it's done.

Most people who read my comments to your reviews will have no idea what I am babbling on about. My middle name should be "Jibber Jabber"!


message 4: by Cecily (last edited Jun 26, 2015 04:17AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily Apatt wrote: "I just noticed this review is 6 years old."

I just noticed it has only three votes! Mind you, it's a very brief one, from my early days on GR, but on the other hand, I have even shorter ones with more than than three votes.

Apatt wrote: "Is your son still in his teens?"

Twenty one!

Apatt wrote: "Most people who read my comments to your reviews will have no idea what I am babbling on about. My middle name should be "Jibber Jabber"!"

That's part of the fun, isn't it? ;)

And better Jibber Jabber than Jabber the Hut.


Apatt Cecily wrote: "Apatt wrote: "I just noticed this review is 6 years old."

I just noticed it has only three votes! Mind you, it's a very brief one, from my early days on GR, but I've have even leaner ones with mor..."


In fact you can count them as 2 votes because even if you were to simply post your laundry list* you'd still get my vote ;) It's like even The Beatles have a song that nobody knows (I think it's called "Me and My Monkey"), so this review could be your "Me and My Monkey".

* which I hope you will do soon.


message 6: by Cecily (last edited Jun 26, 2015 12:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily Apatt wrote: "if you were to simply post your laundry list* you'd still get my vote"

For five years, I had to write a weekly laundry list, but it was very dull. (I was at boarding school, so it was invariably: 5 white shirts, 5 prs grey socks, 1 pr PE socks, 1 PE skirt, 2 Aertex shits, 7 prs knickers, 1 blue t-shirt... At the start and end of every term we also had to lay all our clothes out on the bed, in the same order as the official list, and have everything ticked off. It was as much to ensure we didn't bring too much, as to check we had what was required.)


Apatt Cecily wrote: "For five years, I had to write a weekly laundry list, but it was very dull. (I was at boarding school, so it was invariably: 5 white shirts, 5 prs grey socks, 1 pr PE socks, 1 PE skirt, 2 Aertex sh..."

Aertex what?!

I went to a boarding school too, it was in a remote part of Perth, Scotland. I even had a kilt, I have no idea what happened to it!


message 8: by Cecily (last edited Jun 26, 2015 04:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily Apatt wrote: "Aertex what?!"

Oh shirt. I hat it when that happens.

Apatt wrote: "I even had a kilt, I have no idea what happened to it!"

Stolen by rampaging haggis to make a nest?


message 9: by 7jane (new)

7jane Apatt wrote: "I even had a kilt, I have no idea what happened to it!"

I want a kilt... wish I had one, but I only have one slightly battered black waitress skirt somewhere in the back of my wardrobe - I'm not a skirt wearer *cough* :)


Apatt 7jane wrote: "Apatt wrote: "I even had a kilt, I have no idea what happened to it!"

I want a kilt... wish I had one, but I only have one slightly battered black waitress skirt somewhere in the back of my wardro..."


Welcome to Cecily's secret society 7jane :)


message 11: by 7jane (new)

7jane Apatt wrote: "7jane wrote: "Apatt wrote: "I even had a kilt, I have no idea what happened to it!"

I want a kilt... wish I had one, but I only have one slightly battered black waitress skirt somewhere in the bac..."


*secret-society hand signal ritual here*

:D I'm planning to read this one; actually I'm planning on reading this whole series in chronological order (as seen on Wiki). *nods* 8)


message 12: by Cecily (last edited Jun 26, 2015 05:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily You need to practice that hand signal a bit more, 7jane. I know it's tricky, but you haven't got it quite right yet. Practice makes perfect. ;)

Is wiki correct about the sequence? This one isn't part of the core Rev Space trilogy, but I agree with my son's recommendation, that it's a good place to start.


Apatt Cecily wrote: "wiki correct about the sequence? This one isn't part of the core Rev Space trilogy, but I agree with my son's recommendation, that it's a good place to start. ."

It's more like core blimey (whatever that means). Who is Gordon Bennett by the way?


message 14: by 7jane (new)

7jane Cecily wrote: "You need to practice that hand signal a bit more, 7jane. I know it's tricky, but haven't got it quite right yet. Practice makes perfect. ;)

Is wiki correct about the sequence? This one isn't part ..."


Some of the year dates *are* 'circa'-dates (including Chasm City), but this book is there among others. I'm trying it anyway *whee*


Cecily I actually meant the sequence of novels. But all the Reynolds I've read have been good. Enjoy.


message 16: by 7jane (new)

7jane Cecily wrote: "I actually meant the sequence of novels. But all the Reynolds I've read have been good. Enjoy."

I think they are, but IMO some series are possible to read out of order without too much confusion (I've done that with some though don't remember much clearer which *cough*). And thanks! :D <3


message 17: by Cecily (last edited Jun 26, 2015 05:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily The three core Rev Space ones are probably best read in order (Rev Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap), but the peripheral ones (like this) can go almost anywhere, so it makes some sense to start with this, which is more standalone, to see if you like them.


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