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Alastair Reynolds "Galactic North" Collection




Nostalgia for Infinity... A perfect name for a starship to explore the outermost reaches of "Galactic North"




Alastair Reynolds
"Galactic North" (coll)

(Revelation Space series)
© Ace / Gollancz, 2006
--/ second place sf collection DRB top lists


This collection of large-scale stories (with three original story publications) positively oozes light years, strands of stars and latticework of nebulas - magnificently, it drips down clusters of insanely huge machinery locked in unknown, tremendous struggle, the likes of which we would never comprehend. In other words, it's the best collection of "new space opera"/ space adventure material to come out in a long while. Highly recommended.


Alastair Reynolds
"Galactic North" (story)
(Revelation Space series)
© Interzone, Jul 1999
--fiction : 2000 Interzone Poll /9
--short story : 2002 Seiun
--novelette : 2000 Locus Poll

--/ second place space sf story
--/ adventure award
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ awesome scale


The Greenfly Machines - terraforming gone bad! - devour the larger part of our Galaxy, while a group of unlikely survivors observes the event with minimal interest: they are more compelled to chase each other across light years and millennia, driven by an all consuming lust for revenge. Their characters are superficial, shallow to the point of being shadows; they are immaterial players in a larger cosmological farce, or rather a tragedy, of the Ultimate Futility of It All played on a "space opera" stage. The sense of time/space progression is unfailingly vast, imparted unto a reader with a vacuum-cold, neutron-heavy touch of a ruthless and skillful writer.

The Universe-spanning vistas in "Galactic North" are comparable to Isaac Asimov's story "Last Question", or to Olaf Stapledon's visions of phantom stellar civilizations. Reynolds pulls out all the stops and achieves mind-boggling results, which are nevertheless nested deeply in his "Revelation Space" universe (thus, "Galactic North" provides a much-needed sense of perspective to the whole series). The bit about space piracy in the story's beginning is pretty dramatic in itself, and serves the same purpose: to inflame titanic emotions, capable of burning their carnal fires through multitude of incarnations and across limitless time and space. Like someone said, "Reynolds is gazing into Infinity here". Yes, and he does not flinch a bit - but then again, this is purely imaginary infinity, a tame fictional thing.
(review by Avi Abrams)

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(left image: art copyright: John Berkey)

Alastair Reynolds
"Weather"

(Revelation Space series)
© Galactic North, 2006
--/ third place space sf story
>--/ adventure award
--/ wonder award


This is as straight-forward story as you can get: a simple space piracy potboiler, with classic set pieces and predictable special effects. None of the above constitutes a bad thing, though. Space piracy stories historically have been frowned upon by all kinds of critics, dismissed en masse as juvenile and unoriginal. Well, what can we say? other than: pirates are supposed to have a bad rap, unless they are of the kind that "don't do anything".

More often, though, pirates and their lifestyle represent the most romantic environment that a writer can possibly come up with. Problem is, NONE of the great space piracy stories were properly reprinted, or marketed, and so they are virtually unknown as a result. Have you read (or even heard about) Edwin K. Sloat's "Beyond the Planetoids" (1932)? Or Edmond Hamilton's "The Three Planeteers"? I bet you have not... but now you can at least read this little "potboiler" to get a good taste of what "piracy of the spaceways" adventure is all about.

A perfectly simple storyline is all that is needed here: bravery, thrilling battles, testing of the corsair's wits and space engines, with an added exotic (though not really romantic) interest and a geeky fascination with huge unfathomable space drives - all very straight-forward and cute. Very pleasurable narrative from a writer who's not afraid to enter forbidden (even if deemed to be "cheesy") territories and to bring out cool cinematic adventures.
(review by Avi Abrams)



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