Pushing Ice was a long and, in the end, disappointing slog. Reynolds must have had something like Clarke's Rama series in mind when he wrote this book, but in the end his book felt more like a soap opera in space than a story that left you wanting more at the end, and experiencing the sense of wonder that characterizes speculative fiction that has its feet based firmly in hard science.
Reynolds does a good job with his science, and in this book he gives a good deal of ink to the problems and timescales of interstellar travel where C remains an absolute limit.
His characters are well developed, his prose is at times exquisite, but the story left me cold and unsatisfied. Instead of wanting more at the end, I felt more like saying "Glad that's over," and "What was the point of all that?"
I would not recommend this book to friends as it does too little in too many words to be worthwhile.
John Lee has a magnificent voice, but I"m not sure it's well suited to audiobook narration. His voice characterizations are limited to accents (which he does rather well) but he seems more like an announcer than a storyteller. His voicing, enunciation and elocution are all above reproach, but comes off stilted and stiff.
I finished listening to the book because it was interesting enough to want to finish, but when it was done I knew that those hours could have been better spent elsewhere. This will not be a book I'll listen to again.
I can't believe this book hasn't been made into a movie. It is a wonderful story, well told, and beautifully read. It is really science fiction--having a story written by an astrophysicist, makes for great science along with the fiction. The characters were believable and story huge in scope and time. It was fantastic listening all the way.
Did you know you can put in a set of Ear-Buds, slap your Hearing Protectors over them, and Mow the lawn, Weed-Eat, etc, without your book being drowned out by engine noise? OR, you can just let the horses in the yard, and THEY'LL mow and weedeat (literally) FOR YOU!
I have come to like Alastair Reynolds more with each book I finish, and Reynolds' in-depth stories and characters are complimented very nicely by John Lee!
"Pushing Ice" is kind of a "Stand Alone" book, which is a little surprising since I've gotten used to Reynolds' books being part of a LONG series. It's not his best book in my opinion, but every one of his books so far have been good enough that me saying, "It wasn't his best book" is like saying, "That wasn't Babe Ruth's best home run"... if it's over the fence, everything else is just details ;)
I didn't think Mr. Reynolds would be able to tie in the beginning of the book, and then pull off how the characters were "saved" toward the end of the book once I figured out what was about to happen, but like the true master story-teller he is, he did it!
As usual, Reynolds made me care about his characters and become emotionally invested in them. Mr. Reynolds has the gift of allowing you to know the characters so well that you can pretty much tell how each character will react to any given situation. Several times I found myself smiling and thinking "Oh man! She is NOT going to like this!" When you find that you've reached that kind of connection with the characters in a book, you've gotten your money's worth!
I also found it very easy to reach that illusive "Story Trance" state each time I started the book again after having to take a brief pause from it (Haven't figured out how to listen and still pay total attention while in the shower yet ;)
While I'm at it, I'd like to mention that I am amazed how similar I find Alastair Reynold's books, and Peter F. Hamilton's books! Maybe it's because John Lee typically does the narration for both authors, but I actually looked online to see if maybe they were the same author using two different names to write similar, yet distinctly different, stories. I was kind of relieved to find they were very different authors, since that means we have twice the amount of great books to listen to!
The concept as a whole is an A+. One of Jupiter's moons decides it's time to take off! The nearest and most likely candidate to intercept the moon/spaceship is not the Space Marines or the Starship Enterprise, it's "Rock Hopper" a space mining ship. What's not to love!!
Thus begins a space opera unlike any other, the adventure is mind boggling and will leave you, in the end, with many more questions then when you started. This is not necessairly a bad thing but it does take 20 hours to get to that point.
I enjoyed this story and would consider it a worthwhile book credit for those who like "First Contact" type storylines.
I also enjoyed Pandora's Star, Judas Unchained and House of Suns.
There was a lot of potential for this book, and parts were amazing, but overall it was so-so. It felt like the author got lost part-way through before he found the thread of the story again. There was also a long section of "he said, she said" between two factions that were both plausible, so the bickering was tedious. The author also seemed more interested in getting the story out there, rather than telling it. I never got a feel for what things looked like or personal mannerisms of the characters. It was about half-way in before we knew the color of one of the main character's hair, for example. Overall, the book had interesting ideas, but so-so conveyance of those ideas.
The narration was okay in most places, but horrible in others. There are not significant pauses between sections of the story, so completely different characters were doing things before I realized we'd switched scenes. Early on, this completely threw me, but I grew accustomed to it. The accents were also iffy, many so close to each other that I couldn't tell who was speaking until the "Jim said" or "Craig said".
I especially enjoyed that this book spanned not one year or two, but multiple life-times. It gave it a scope that most books don't have.
Sorry, but of all the books I've listened to, this was one of the most painful (but maybe that's because I didn't just turn it off when it got really bad). This story started out slow, but had an interesting enough presence to keep me listening. Once I got hooked into the plot and wanted to find out what happened, it went from slow to boring to "Please stop!!!". Honestly the only reason I finished it was because I didn't have anything else to listen to. What should have been a SciFi story about encounters with aliens, etc turned into a drama about two rather unlikeable women who were always banging heads with each other, and both convinced of their moral superiority. I like John Lee as a narrator, but after hours of listening to him impersonate an arrogant, self righteous woman with a Russian accent (far from the best use of his voice talent, and kind of annoying to listen to), I may never be able to listen to him again. Skip this one, there's plenty of other good books out there.
Near the top of the sci-fi stack. I listened to the first Revelation Space book, and it just didn't grab me - so I avoided Alistair Reynolds for quite a while. This book, however, thrilled me from start to finish.
About 6 or 7 hours in I realized that the book wasn't even halfway over yet. This was significant because more had happened in less than half a book, than happens in so many other books. Densely packed, and wonderful for it!
I've listened to a ton of John Lee; he may not do nuanced differences in character voices - but he does imbue them with a lot of personality. If John Lee reads a book, I'm 80% sold... he's that good.
Only hoping that Alistair Reynolds has more like this up his sleeve. This was epic in scope, and exactly what I crave in good sci-fi. Coupled with John Lee - you get a perfect audio book.
This is the seventh book by Alastair Reynolds I've read so far (or eight if you count Troika). This wasn't my favorite, although it certainly had its awe-inspiring moments when the big mysteries are revealed. This doesn't happen until later in the book, however. The pace at times feels painfully slow. It's mostly about the interaction between the two main characters, and as they struggle against each other at times you simply wish for one of them to just die, or at least pay for their actions. I would certainly have preferred less of the back-and-forth, but the book is, after all, mainly a character story.
At first it seems like the book will be one of the most near present-day that Reynolds has written, but the book takes several interesting turns that lead you on a journey where you're not sure at all what the destination is. In the end, there are a few questions that were not answered, and for me personally several unsatisfying turns of events happen. I also feel that it paints a rather bleak picture of the universe, where the message is, simply put, "Nothing Lasts". This is why I dropped it from four stars to three.
John Lee, by the way, is spot on, and always one of my favorite narrators. I did eventually get annoyed with Svetlana's Eastern European accent, though that is the author's fault for choosing such a character, and Lee had no choice in the matter I'm sure.
I really need to start proof reading my Reviews before I post them.
This story makes me want to be a better person. The conceptual frame work in this story is awe inspiring. Huge scope and micro-level details. I felt sorry for the fish.