(Image courtesy of THE ECONOMIST)
Another trio of reviews for Alastair Reynolds’ wonderful SLOW BULLETS.
Reynolds has written a number of hefty space opera tomes since his debut novel, Revelation Space in 2000, but Slow Bullets clocks in at a slim 200 pages. It feels like it’s a book ripped out of the 1960s, with a fast-paced plot with plenty of science and a good dose of social retrospection.
This is a strange, wonderful little book. It’s a quick read, and a bit light on some details, but there’s a lot packed into it. Coming out of the war, the ship is filled with factions of survivors: ex-Soldiers, civilians, crew members and prisoners, each distrustful of the other. They can survive on the ship for a longer period of time with enough precautions, but they risk losing something important: data from the ship’s computers.
Slow Bullets is a great introduction to Reynolds and his fantastic body of work, written with a laser focus that makes the book impossible to put down, even if there were points where I wanted a bit more context. Ultimately, Slow Bullets is a clever, fast novel that’s well worth picking up, about how we carry the past with us, and how we move on from a traumatic past.
(Translation from Spanish courtesy of Google)
For me, the most appealing aspect of Slow Bullets was, however, anything that has to do with ideas of memory and identity. I do not want to reveal too much, but in this short novel the protagonists have to face certain events before its ability to store and preserve information is probably the only option to overcome the terrible situation in which, unexpectedly, are. At first, the considerations are mainly practical (what to keep and how to store it, for example) but soon take a more philosophical nature, playing delicate and profound as what topics defines us as a society and as individuals.
Another element that I liked in Slow Bullets is the voice of the main character. The story is told in first person by a woman in a certainly traumatic past and the early chapters, in which we are witness to some of the events that led to the current situation, they are simply excellent, as is the final part of the book in which the motives of their actions are revealed part. Reynolds.
Slow Bullets is a good, solid science fiction story with several brilliant chapters and some interesting reflections on memory and identity. As mentioned above, it is not the best novella written Reynolds (hard to beat Diamond Dogs , for example) but almost unreservedly recommend. And I want to thank again the work you are doing Tachyon publishing new and exciting stories of science fiction and fantasy. Keep publishing these short novels are great!
Slow Bullets is novella length and while it does tell a story it could be setting the stage for something more. It is told from Scur’s point of view and moves forward at a very brisk pace. The story line is well developed, the back-story easy to understand and the tension builds as the story progresses. Reynolds started his career writing short stories so he is a master at making the most of every word. That is evident in Slow Bullets.
For more info about SLOW BULLETS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Thomas Canty
Design by Elizabeth Story