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1999 - Year in SF&F: Reviews



THE WONDER TIMELINE: SF&F RETROSPECTIVE
Read other issues here

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"Galactic North"
(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 - routinely devour the bigger part of our Galaxy, while a group of unlikely survivors observes the event with little interest: they are more compelled to chase each other across millennia, driven by all-consuming lust for revenge. The characters are superficial, shallow to the point of being shadows, immaterial players in a larger cosmological farce: a tragedy of Ultimate Futility played on a huge "space opera" stage. The sense of time/space progression is simply vast, imparted unto a reader with the vacuum-cold, neutron-heavy touch of a sure writer.

The reeling vistas in this story are comparable to Isaac Asimov's "Last Question", or to Olaf Stapledon's visions of phantom stellar civilizations. Reynolds pulls out all the stops here and achieves mind-boggling results, which are nevertheless nested deeply in his "Revelation Space" universe ("Galactic North" thus provides a much-needed sense of perspective to the whole series). The bit about space piracy in the beginning of the story is pretty dramatic in itself, and it serves the same purpose: to inflame some very powerful emotions that will burn their carnal fires through multitude of incarnations, across limitless time and space. Like someone said, "Reynolds is gazing into Infinity here". Yes, he does, and he does not flinch for a bit - but then again, this is purely imagined infinity, a tame fictional thing - which looms large as perhaps the only real "hero" of this story.

All in all, this is awesome sci-fi entertainment, sure to delight all space adventure geeks like me.

review by Avi Abrams: 24-Sep-06 (read in 2002)



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