Sunday, March 22, 2015

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

It may just be my reading history, but I always thought of Space Opera as 'light'.  Light in the sense that good triumphs over evil. That, although there are major challenges, in the end, if we work hard and come together, it will be all right.

Reynolds has removed this idea for me. As surely as GRR Martin removes the illusions of Tolkienesque fantasy tropes, Reynolds presents a dark, bleak view of the future.

I must say, I like it.

In Slow Bullets, we are introduced to what will look like a space opera with military scifi elements.  Not to spoil the story, this quickly metamorphoses into a tale of survival, of adaptation against almost hopeless odds.  It is all well presented, and the writing never makes it feel disjointed.  In fact, this tale, being a novella, flows very quickly.  It is interesting that this story is a novella.  One one hand, it makes for a very tight, fast moving story.  On the other, I want to explore some of the ideas and concepts presented in this story with greater depth, and we are left yearning for more.  All in all, I think it worked, even if it looks slim sitting beside Peter Hamilton's works.

The characters are very well done, and fully complex.  The cast that is detailed is limited, but this is to be expected with the word count of this novella.  We are also introduced to the characters by watching their actions, not be being told about them.  This is very important in a streamlined story such as this.  The characters act in believable ways, and the times we are surprised by them, it is never 'out of character'

In summary, this is a very nice piece of scifi fiction, sure to please fans of hard scifi and space opera.  The writing is tight, the characters are well developed, and the story itself moves along at a cracking pace.  The challenges that are met by the cast of characters are interesting, and how they adapt to them is inventive and believable.  The social critique aspects of the story thought provoking and dealt with within the framework of the story.

This is the second work by Reynolds I have read, and I will not hesitate to read, or recommend, more.

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