Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds by Alastair Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I remember Galactic North fondly, but I must be honest here. This collection, while it picks up two stories from the previous collection, namely Great Wall of Mars and Weather, everything else is new to me. Alastair Reynolds is easily one of the best SF authors writing today. He's not sneaky about it, either. This isn't any kind of artsy-fartsy writing. This is Space-Opera filled with so much imagination and planning and detail and truly wide vistas of thought, time, and space, that I'm surprised I don't hear fanboys and fangirls screaming his name from the rooftops.
Well, maybe they do. I've usually got my earbuds in my ears so I find it hard to hear them. :)
Let me tell you: These stories of his are SO COOL. I mean, like glittering jewels of complete mind-blowing and written with real talent and clear vision, dense and perfect world-building and a plethora of seriously interesting characters.
I'll try not to spoil anything, and I'll skip a few directed reviews for some of the stories, but there were a few that you should really pay close attention to. (And I doubt you'll have any problems doing so, because they're also fun as hell.) Most of them are placed outside of his Revelation Space universe, but there are a handful that is firmly ensconced. Diamond Dogs is a who's who of places and peoples and a really sharp cut. :)
But mostly, I'll focus on the pure creations:
The story that bears the name of the novel. Beyond the Aquila Rift. It's a mindfuq. Clever and interesting space mechanics and a really cool surprise. No more spoilers. :)
Minla's Flowers was an awesome telling/retelling of Merlin and a bootstrap raising of a civilization... Also with a twist.
Zima Blue is was probably my favorite story out of the entire collection. And yes, it had a twist.
Fury could have been the start of one of my most loved novels ever, but no, it was just a novella, and very much a homage to Asimov. :)
The Star Surgeon's Apprentice was scary and delightful at the same time, and dare I say horrific? Oh yes. A dear story.
Skipping a few stories, I get to Troika, and don't miss out with a little listening time to the original music as you read this beauty. There's a bit of reality modification, but mostly it's very Russian. :)
Sleepover really grew on me by the end until I was completely giddy with the implications and the imagery.
Trauma Pod was an absolutely delicious body-mod Punk-AI horrorshow and I just had to laugh.
Las Log of the Lachrimosa will be fun along with Diamond Dogs for those of you still devoted to the Revelation Space books. I know I enjoyed them.
The Old Man and the Martian Sea was a fine capstone to the stories and I think it might have been better moved below Babelsberg, but I still liked them both. :)
In some ways, this short story collection is better than at least 3 or 4 of his full length novels. That's pretty impressive since he writes truly mean novels. :)
Thanks goes to Netgalley for this wonderful opportunity to read one of the greats of SF!
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