SLOW BULLETS is highly recommended, both for Reynolds’ admirers and as an introduction to this author
Another pair of reviews for Alastair Reynolds’ SLOW BULLETS.
Told in less than two hundred pages of large print, SLOW BULLETS feels curtailed, a synopsis of a much larger story bursting to escape as Scur tries to organise a grudging peace between the different factions at the same time as organising personal revenge, believing that the man who brutalised her is hiding somewhere within the darkened chambers of the Caprice.
With so much to cover in a brief time much of the text is necessarily expositional, but when he gets going Reynolds is never afraid to dump a terrifying conceptual image on the page, a threat unlike any he has presented before: “She’s trying to describe something language isn’t made to describe, something huge and alien.”
With aspects of the story recalling the free people of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, each of them carrying something precious and unique which would otherwise be destroyed, despite being a soldier who has been captured and tortured Scur still thinks well of people, realising that the enemy is not necessarily those who represent the opposing army but those on either side for whom it is a pleasure to burn rather than to build.
Written after the publication of On the Steel Breeze but before he commenced work on the concluding volume of Poseidon’s Children, Poseidon’s Wake, and contrasting the optimistic explorations of that trilogy, SLOW BULLETS is a big story which would have required considerable further development to support a full novel; that Reynolds is happy to release it in this form indicates he already has much bigger ideas in the pipeline.
SLOW BULLETS is slightly different from the kind of narrative I grew used to after reading Reynolds’ books like Chasm City, Revelation Space, Redemption Ark or Absolution Gap: the scope here does not concern galactic civilizations or multi-layered political plots, but rather focuses on smaller-scale events that nonetheless manage to gain intensity and depth because of that reduced focus, and not in spite of it.
It’s a more intimate vision than what I encountered until now in Reynolds’ books, but for this very reason it felt more profound and poignant than any other I read so far, and it gave me a new level of interpretation for this author, and a key to a new way of reading his stories.
Highly recommended, both for Reynolds’ admirers and as an introduction to this author.
My Rating: 8/10
For more about SLOW BULLETS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Thomas Canty.
Design by Elizabeth Story.