Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Alastair Reynolds returns to the Revelation Space universe with the strongest novel *IMHO* since The Prefect. Of course, this is a direct follow-up to The Prefect.
Look, I know that's kinda a toss out statement, but it's still true. I loved The Prefect because it went wild with tech and even wilder political imagination, glorifying the Glitter Band before it became the Rust Belt. And of course, it was a really awesome mystery that went all out to become a nightmare destroying so much of the beautiful orbiting habitats around Yellowstone. That last book was a near-utopia under siege by a dead girl who had gotten really good with neural architecture and cloud-based systems. It was damn delicious and imaginative and detailed as hell. And the characters were pretty hardcore awesome, too.
Fast forward to an even more accomplished Reynolds with even better characterization, more fluid prose, and dialogue. Add the lingering effects of failed confidence in the Prefects from the previous events, talk of secession by demagogs, and a pretty awesome string of high-tech murders that can be directly linked to the events of other RS novels, and we've got an increasingly harrowing mystery on a shoestring budget even if the high tech gadgets are way beyond anything we've got.
I mean, just look at this tiny list: Beta-level intelligence simulations allowing the dead to keep on living, quick-matter constructs that can become anything just so long as the right price is paid, personal weapons that act like Swiss Army Knives of AI snakes, and a subset of humans who just don't give a crap about what they want to upgrade themselves with.
The mystery is almost the only thing that's normal, and we're dealing with cooked brains and a list of the dead reaching the thousands and it's all being used as political gain.
Really fun novel. Really Hard-SF.
But you know what I love most about this? Reynolds is connecting ALL the Revelation Space novels together even tighter in this one. I'm picking up future events in Chasm City, regular and awesome characters from Reynold's short fiction and the events after everything goes to hell following the Melding Plague and the alien menace, and of course, there's Aurora. I love, love, love Aurora. She's been a mainstay of godlike intelligence in the series and what a personality. :)
A word to the wise: I probably should have re-read The Prefect before picking this up, but it really wasn't that bad. This book was pretty brilliant without needing to revisit the other. BUT I was reminded just how brilliant the other was, too. :)
Another thing: Most of his standalone novels are just that... even if the connections and the timelines are there. The stories are readable in any order you wish. Even this one.
And that being said, Bravo! This really was a fantastic new Reynolds! Easily one of my favorites.
Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC!
View all my reviews