Galactic North

I finished this a couple of days ago – given it is a set of novellas, it serves as my break from reading about the Chinese Revolution, which book I will also post about at some time – there are some doozies of quotes that I have to share with people.

Anyway, to Galactic North: the latest Alastair Reynolds (although apparently there’s a new novel on the way – hurrah). I am eternally grateful to Kate for getting me to to read short stories, since before she started foisting Urchin stories on me (an example of which can be read here – I do so love the Wild Hunt), I never was much of a fan. This I have since repented, and am doing my part in reading a large stack of Aussie shorts (don’t believe me? Check this out). But back to the point. The first two stories (Great Wall of Mars, and Glacial) of this collection are about Galiana and Clavain, familiar to anyone who has read Revelation Space stories and still fascinating characters for newbies. Representing very different forms of culture and humanity – one a Conjoiner, those humans who exist with what is, crudely, an interweb between them, connecting them irrevocably, the other from a faction implacably opposed to such forms of humanity. They are great stories, and although you can read them as stand-alones, as I said, i think they are best seen as filling in (very nicely) holes from the novels.

Those two stories were probablymy favourites, because they did plug holes. “A Spy in Europa” is excellent, a very clever twisty story; “Weather” looks at both Ultras (space-adapted sailors, basically) and Conjoiners more than usual. “Dilation Sleep” is apparently a very old story, and suitably creepy, although not the most interesting of the set; “Grafenwalder’s Bestiary” allows Reynolds’ macabre side out to play. “Nightingale” (took me a while to get the name; it’s the name of a hospital ship) is also quite macabre, and an anti-war gem. Finally, “Galactic North” reminded me a lot of Time, Space, and Origin by Stephen Baxter, for its sheer scope of time and space. It was really, really good, too – picking up on something mentioned in one of the novels, and running with it to what should be a ridiculous extent, and yet… it works.

All in all, a glorious set of stories. And it just makes me want more from the Revelation Space ‘verse.

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