Slow Bullets – Alastair Reynolds

slow bulletsI’m not very knowledgeable about Golden Age SF, and yet I would risk saying that Slow Bullets has most of its roots in precisely that era of the genre. It is lean, straightforward, functioning mostly on the strength of its focal conceits, and, of course, dealing with grand futuristic ideas. It definitely suffers in terms of complexity and veracity because of these same design features, but one could always argue that was done on purpose. Sacrificing depth for the sake of densely packed conceptual entertainment, pitched against a backdrop of cosmological scale, rarely works with longer fiction. Here, though, in the span of fewer than 200 pages, this compression is quite functional. The author probably had much fun writing this short piece, knowing from the get-go that he didn’t have to dig very deep in psychology, sociology, any –ology for that matter. It’s a pre-New Wave, pre-cyberpunk piece that just goes for that old thrill of exploring a bundle of great concepts, not caring that much about anything else. I imagine it can be a liberating experience for a modern author, to just go with the flow, for the sake of the flow, on a rare occasion. I certainly enjoyed reading it, it took me just a bit more than the duration of my flight to finish, and its succinctness is a quality worthy of applause. Continue reading

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Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer – Adam Roberts

Jack Glass is the third Adam Roberts book I have read. For the third time I haven’t been disappointed. What I enjoy most about his novels – apart from the fact that they are always well written – is the unique angle presented in each one. All of them deal with big ideas, they are conceptual SF at its best. Roberts usually constructs elaborate conceits upon some wildly fantastic notion and then immerses you in a world where that novum is more than just believable, it is essential for the operation of reality. Then he complicates it all with a narrative twist that actually tricks you to surrender fully to the SF setting. Because by the time you realize what the twist is, you already want to be tricked. Continue reading