Friday, January 04, 2008

Alastair Reynolds - Galactic North

This collection of short stories fills in some neat little gaps, and ties up a few loose threads from Alastair Reynolds' galaxy-wide future histories. The stories are pretty much self contained, though I imagine that a few of them would benefit from a prior knowledge of Reynold's universe and ideas.

Reynold's universe is populated by a few different "types" of humans and very little else. Other intelligences have reached a certain point, then been destroyed. This is alluded to in these stories, but you'll need to read some of the other books to understand why.

The stories in themselves are not as brilliant as either the longer novels, or the author's earlier collection of novella's "Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days". In a couple of them the "twist" ending, or the crux of the plot can be spotted a long time before the reader is meant to, particularly if you've read a lot of SF! That said, there are a few brilliant ideas here - "Grafenwalder's Bestiary" is a genuinely creepy tale of people who will collect anything (though I had to resort to Wikipedia to remember just who is who in the stories finale). "Nightingale" is an exciting story that deserves to be made into a feature length film, along the Aliens theme, though in some ways, its plot is close to that of that appalling film "Event Horizon".

Finally, there are some moments of pure genius. I found the gun in the titular story, "Galactic North" that cheerfully says "Thank you for using this weapons system" as it's put away, particularly memorable.

For Reynold's fans this collection will be a must have. For those new to his work, I'd recommend one of the longer novels as a better introduction to this particular universe.

Related Reviews

Reynolds - Redemption Ark

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd disagree with the idea that this isn't a good introduction to his universe. It was the first one I read and it got me into it. I started reading the Revelation Space novel at the same time, but that sort of fell by the side. I did eventually read it and found it really good, but you have to bear with it for the first couple of pages; not so with GN. It is true that if you are a Reynolds fan, you will definitely love this. If you are not, but will be eventually, however, you will also love it. Then again, I am one of those people who likes to know a lot about a story before I get into it. GN gives you a lot of background info for the others.

So if you're into hard science fiction, i.e. the sort in which science is important, and that which avoids such nonsense as hyperspace and blasters and so on, this is definietly something to try out.