Photo: Barbera Bella
A quartet of reviews for Alastair Reynolds’ very entertaining SLOW BULLETS.
From FAT ROBOT:
I think we should mention his name a lot more often when discussing female characters in hard SF, because he provides them. He brings about these women so matter-of-factly that you barely even take notice, which is of course exactly the way to do it (according to me). When I think about it, I get the distinct idea that here’s an author who goes “Well, does this character arc specifically involve testicles? No? Then it can belong to a woman.” And this is done without automatically bringing ovaries into focus.
It’s so great.
Read it if you want to scratch that space opera itch! Or, perhaps, if your interest is piqued by what I’ve said about the treatment of female characters. If you like this novella, and haven’t already read at least the first Revelation space novel and Chasm city, you’ll easily add those to your to-read list.
The story moves quickly and fluidly as we discover not only what happened to them but to the universe at large during the interval. Very entertaining.
Slow Bullets (2015) is a mystery, the kind where science is used to shed some light on the superbly engrossing puzzle presented and without devolving into technical minutiae. It’s also a character study of a group of humans trying desperately to retain whatever shreds of societal cohesion they find themselves with (already stretched to near breaking point from the outset). At its heart, though, it is a story ultimately about memory and the preservation of knowledge.
The pace moves along very well and interest never wanes. There are moments where one keenly feels the efforts of a community trying not just to survive, but also attempting to stave off a desolate hopelessness, a near-explosive apprehension of an uncertain future, by trying to leave something of themselves in the form of records, even incorporating methods that would have been easily comprehensible to the myth-making primitive man. At first, the records are of a more personal nature; later, information that is pertinent for group survival, not just practicalities but also of culture.
If you’re new to Alastair Reynolds, then this short work is an excellent starting point to get a taste. If you liked his Pushing Ice, then likewise this story is for you. It has a similar vibe with scenarios that test the bounds of human perseverance and depict the indomitable spirit that impels us to strive on whatever the odds, because, really, that’s all we can ever do.
Slow Bullets is an engaging, provocative and touching space opera. It’s a story about sacrifice, redemption and ultimately of hope. It has all the hallmarks of what fans have grown to expect, but also shows that Reynolds is adapt at crafting a far more intimidate tale. With such a rich setting and a myriad of themes at play, this is a story well worth reading!
For more info about SLOW BULLETS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Thomas Canty
Design by Elizabeth Story