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Chasm City | [Alastair Reynolds]

Chasm City

The once-utopian Chasm City - a domed human settlement on an otherwise inhospitable planet---has been overrun by a virus known as the Melding Plague, capable of infecting any body, organic or computerized. Now, with the entire city corrupted - from the people to the very buildings they inhabit---only the most wretched sort of existence remains. The stakes are raised when Tanner Mirabel's search brings him face to face with a centuries-old atrocity that history would rather forget.
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Publisher's Summary

Named one of the best novels of the year by both Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle, Alastair Reynolds's debut Revelation Space redefined the space opera. With Chasm City, Reynolds invites you to reenter the bizarre universe of his imagination as he redefines Hell.

The once-utopian Chasm City - a domed human settlement on an otherwise inhospitable planet - has been overrun by a virus known as the Melding Plague, capable of infecting any body, organic or computerized. Now, with the entire city corrupted---from the people to the very buildings they inhabit---only the most wretched sort of existence remains. For security operative Tanner Mirabel, it is the landscape of nightmares through which he searches for a lowlife postmortal killer. But the stakes are raised when his search brings him face to face with a centuries-old atrocity that history would rather forget.

©2008 Alastair Reynolds; (P)2009 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Consistently startling.... Reynolds remains one of the hottest...SF writers around." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (948 )
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  •  
    Tango Texas 10-11-13
    Tango Texas 10-11-13 Member Since 2012

    Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enter Revelation Space HERE"

    I almost always read many audible reviews before I pick up a new audio book, but in the case of the Revelation Space series, I really wish I had read the reviews on each of the books before I started any of them. If I had I would have realized that although Audible has Chasm City listed as book 2 in the Revelation Space series, it is actually a prequel to Revelation Space and can stand alone. I would have also seen Michael's and Robert Eric Koch's reviews suggesting that you start Alastair Reynolds with this book. Although my first Reynolds was House of Suns and I think that's a great one to start with, I certainly agree with those reviewers that Chasm City would be a good place to start and I would strongly recommend that you get your first introduction to the world of Revelation Space via Chasm City rather than with Revelation Space. Although Revelation Space was published only a year earlier than Chasm City, there is an enormous improvement in Reynold's writing between the two books. Chasm City is not only much more tightly plotted and easier to follow, there is very adept use of symbolism and foreshadowing in Chasm City that adds suspense and thrills that just weren't there in Revelation Space. (Makes me want to listen again just to find all those little gems that were cluing my subconscious.)

    This is a really dark, kind of creepy story and Reynolds uses such evocative language through much of the book that I was surprised a couple of times while listening to look up and realize it was a nice sunny day out - in my head I was tip-toeing through ghost spaceships, diving into the mists of Chasm City, and evading hunters on the mean streets at night. There are two story lines interwoven into the novel and both are told first person. Reynolds has done a wonderful job in pulling the listener into both stories and the plot is well organized so it is easy to follow although it is rather intricate. The first person perspective in this novel can give you the willies at times - I didn't like the decisions that one of the POV characters was making as he becomes rather megalomaniacal, but I had already so identified with him that I couldn't quite stop rooting for him even while hating him. Now, THAT is creepy-good writing!

    This is a much more methodical layout of Revelation Space than you get in the debut novel and I think reading Chasm City first would make it easier to follow Revelation Space. John Lee brought his A-game to this book so the narration is great also.

    Great future science, good characters, super-twisty plot, terrific writing, wonderful narration - this is a killer good audio book!

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua mcleansville, NC, United States 10-27-11
    Joshua mcleansville, NC, United States 10-27-11 Member Since 2011

    www.newimperium.org

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    "A hard-edged but fascinating first-person mystery."

    Another great story by Alastair Reynolds. Listened to the audio format of this one; as always, narrator John Lee does a FANTASTIC job of telling the story, keeping the characters separate with his amazing variety of voices, and adding just the right touch of emotion and intonation at all the right times. And of course it's very pleasant to listen to, I still think it sounds just like Sean Connery reading the story. In short, I wish he was the narrator of a lot more audiobooks out there.

    This one was a standalone book in Alastair Reynold's "Revelation Space" universe, which with each book shows off the depth of Reynold's universe and the planning he's put into it. This one is a standalone, and a prequel to the Trilogy proper that adds a lot of backstory. A bit darker and very much like a Noir mystery, it keeps you interested, and guessing, right up until the end. There was quite a bit of language in it as one might imagine from this type of story.

    I am very glad he wrote this one from first-person viewpoint. I also rather enjoy the info-dumps that Reynolds puts into a lot of his stories - a plot device not used by everyone and even reviled by some, but I think it's necessary with stories of this complexity. Besides, they always appear at just the right moments and helps to avoid the frustration of wondering what's really going on that some authors make you go through.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael New Orleans, LA 10-03-12
    Michael New Orleans, LA 10-03-12 Member Since 2006
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    "A Great Standalone Read Worth Your Time..."

    Alastair Reynolds is a fantastic writer, and often, the challenge is to pick a first read of this exceptional author. Well, this is a GREAT place to begin: Strong plot and subplots, wonderful descriptive wring that draws you in, characters with appreciable depth, and a universe that is chock full of original ideas and execution. Chasm City is, in my humble opinion, one of the author's best works.

    And it's also a GREAT listen.

    You've probably read the audiobook's description, and have made a general opinion. Well, stop there. You have NO IDEA how well this has been written for you, the listener.

    From viruses that cause religious memories and experiences, to dna-level bio-political synchronicity, to infected nanotechnology that warps architecture, to biology and societies on a far-flung planet that went from becoming the hub of the known galaxy slowly grinding into the dregs of a forgotten but very active planet of biological and social mysteries. Place a ferocious chase between murderer and hunter in this maelstrom, and throw in a backstory involving deception on the multigenerational starships that delivered mankind to this world. It's simply engaging and listen-worthy.

    AND. You can start here to get acquainted with the author's other works.

    There is a challenge though, and it's keeping up with the sweeping storylines that crisscross at many points within the story. Pay attention, and you won't be disappointed.

    Keep your hands in the car at all times, because this is one exhilarating roller-coaster ride.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Eric Koch MONTEVALLO, AL, US 02-14-13
    Robert Eric Koch MONTEVALLO, AL, US 02-14-13 Member Since 2010

    Tell us about yourself!

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    "Best Of The Best, A Must Read for Any SF Fan"
    Any additional comments?

    Alastair Reynolds is easily one of the three or four best science fiction writers working today and when it comes to hard SF, there’s really no one better. I’m convinced that Reynold’s body of work will be the standard by which both space opera and hard SF are judged for years to come. Chasm City is his best stand-alone novel (just barely nudged from the top spot imo by Redemption Ark). The novel is set within the Revelation Space universe, delving deep into the future culture in which the events of Revelation Space take place. A truly original and groundbreaking novel, Chasm City truly does redefine the space opera genre. While most space operas find convenient ways around Einstein and physics, Reynolds actually uses the physical restrictions of the real world to tell his story. The characters are relatable but just weird enough to work in the context of his universe. I highly recommend this novel for any SF fan and it works as a great introduction to Reynold’s body of work. The narration of John Lee seems, at times, a little colloquial but is otherwise fine.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle Gloversville, New York, United States 04-02-12
    Kyle Gloversville, New York, United States 04-02-12
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    "The best of the Revelation Space series to date"
    Would you listen to Chasm City again? Why?

    I've read Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap, The Prefect, and now Chasm City, and I feel it's safe to say the latter is Alastair Reynold's best work. The story is great, but the thing that really makes it stand out is it's the only novel in the series written from the first person perspective. Therefore, the entire novel focuses on character development, which is done brilliantly. I don't feel like this book would diminish greatness were I to read it/listen to it several more times.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Portsmouth, NH, United States 05-09-10
    Thomas Portsmouth, NH, United States 05-09-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Reynolds as you expect him"

    Nice tie in to the other books. Great narrator, with a variety of accents that I enjoyed. A little confusing when some of the "dreams" begin, but you grow used to it. Love the story line, and Reynolds writing. Enjoyable book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirill Oetwil Am See, Switzerland 10-19-11
    Kirill Oetwil Am See, Switzerland 10-19-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Very atmospheric"

    It has been a while since I took iPod out of my car into home to listen to a book. Chasm City was the book which gripped me so much that I did that.

    This was my first "read" of Reynolds and quite a pleasant one! I am great fan of darker, atmospheric and realistic (as far as we can imagine it today) science fiction which covers not only science and technology but also human aspect of future. This book has it all! Story is very atmospheric and surrounding, settings and tech are not completely whacked out like in some sf fantasy books and there is a lot of human aspect and emotions, unlike some dry classics like Rama or Ringworld.

    The Narrator is very adequate. In Revelation Space - which I listen to now - John Lee has the annoying habit to start a sentence with much intonation and trail out from there, becoming silenter and silenter - this was complained about by some in reviews to RS. Well, it is not present here! John Lee is really much better in this one IMHO.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Delray Beach, FL, United States 10-14-13
    Steve Delray Beach, FL, United States 10-14-13 Member Since 2001

    A well written book is a gem.

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    "Ties The Alistair Universe Of Books All Together"

    I wish I had read this one before his others. It explains the references from his other books and would have made the whole series much easier to enjoy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Orlando Denver, CO, United States 07-04-13
    Orlando Denver, CO, United States 07-04-13 Member Since 2012

    Hard Sci-Fi Connoiseur.

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    "One of the creepier Rev Space novels"
    Any additional comments?

    After all the mentions (all negative) of Chasm City in the series I was very excited to get into this book. Interestingly most of the creepy stuff happens not in Chasm City but in the stories leading up to the main characters arrival. All in all a solid addition to the universe though a bit disjointed at time. Pacing at the end is odd. As with The Prefect, if you're unfamiliar with Revelation Space start with that series as it sets an important foundation and makes this book more enjoyable.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick TULSA, OK, United States 04-23-13
    Patrick TULSA, OK, United States 04-23-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ""Know Thyself" takes on new meaning"
    Would you listen to Chasm City again? Why?

    Yes. Revelation Space gets sniped because of how density and depth of Reynold's Universe. Chasm City fills the back story for a couple of the planets as well as explaining the historical momentum behind the "present day" in his universe.

    The nods he gave towards "Revelation Space" were also enjoyable, as was the noir hint and the quippy nature of the characters.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The protagonist. There is no way I can explain without blowing the book.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Tanner's fish out of water experience as he descends from the Ice Mendicant's station to the surface of Yellowstone was outstanding. The supporting cast also adds to the scenery.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 21 results PREVIOUS123NEXT
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  • Martin
    Inerness, United Kingdom
    7/22/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Revelation space."
    What other book might you compare Chasm City to, and why?

    Chasm City is part of the revelation space series, in the timeline of that universe it comes second in the series - but on the advice of the author from his own website I listened to this 4th and I would agree that is the best way to go through the series. That said this book stands perfectly well without any of the others and does do not have an ending that requires you to read more nor does it require you to have read any of the previous books. Reads perfectly well as a stand alone.


    What does John Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    John Lee is for me a great Narrator, some people do not seem to get on well with his style but I personally find him very easy to listen to and I enjoy every book he reads.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It took me the best part of 2 weeks to listen to this one which for me is quite a long time. I have over indulged in the revelation space series in the last couple of months - listening to them one after the other, which is quite an undertaking in terms of time! I think I will take a short break from there now and listen to another Author - till I return for a listen to The Prefect :) Had I not been so indulgent in this series I am sure I would listened to this book in 4 or 5 sittings.


    Any additional comments?

    Fantastic series and for the number of Audible credits you use compared to the many hours of listening you get, the value for money is superb.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • jonathan
    sowerby bridge, United Kingdom
    11/30/11
    Overall
    "thrilling"

    This is a fantastic book that kept me fumbling for an excuse to don my headphones and continue listening, Alastair manages to write twists into his novels that reveal themselves subtly and exactly when they should, I never found myself guessing them prematurely or getting lost in the plot.
    His superb grasp on physics and evolutionary biology combined with his creative imagination make the whole story very credible and intriguing, I would recommend listening to "Revelation space" before this, and visiting Alastairs website to view the chronological order of all his novels as they are not clear from here.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    5/8/10
    Overall
    "chasm city"

    great book and loved the variety of characters. hope more in the future.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Dana
    United Kingdom
    5/4/14
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Loved the story, weird narration"
    Where does Chasm City rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very engaging and complex plot, it was surprisingly good. The only thing I wasn't keen on was the narration. It was like he was shooting for "old english gentleman" with the main character's voice - really pompous and annoying, a bit like something out of a 1970s James Bond movie. But it didn't detract too much from my enjoyment of the story, so I'd still give it a big thumbs up.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bilbo316
    United Kingdom
    2/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Chasmic Shift"
    If you could sum up Chasm City in three words, what would they be?

    Original, relentless, grim


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story has arc works fantastically allowing you to piece together the plots strands just at the right pace.


    Which character – as performed by John Lee – was your favourite?

    All characters are fantastic and John Lee's voice is perfectly suited to each of them, had me gripped!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The resolution - without wanting to give anything away...


    Any additional comments?

    A super book from a good writer given a sprinkling of scary dust from the magical John Lee which moved the story to another level for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Owen Phillips 2
    Swansea, South Wales, UK
    4/9/13
    Overall
    "Chasm City - wow"

    I'm a big fan of Aladtair Reynolds' Revelation Space series, and I think this is the best of them all

    The original novel kept me glued to the book for a week, and lots of subsequent rereading



    It brings together future warfare, secret agents, space travel with a real noir feel



    This audio novel enhances the experience. John Lee's narration is excellent, highly convincing and believable



    In my opinion, this is the best sci -fi novel of the past 15 years

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • lucy
    london, United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Great fun"

    A wonderful romp through space. This tale and its twists and turns keeps you on the edge of your seat. I just could not wait for the next excuse to listen. A great mix of adventure, science & technology. Where does this guy get his ideas?? And yes, it does answer some of the questions that I had in my head after reading 'Revolation Space'.

    As alway John Lee does a superb job of bringing it all to life and making some of the more complex concepts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Duncan
    Huntingdon, United Kingdom
    11/17/12
    Overall
    "Reynolds is THE SF writer of the moment."

    Reynolds' own version of 'Known' space is coherent and disturbing, involving and dark. John Lee narrates with clear diction and engages the listener. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Cirencester, United Kingdom
    8/23/11
    Overall
    "A Masterpiece!"

    What a captivating story, plenty of action and some majestic characterisation. A unique and quite brilliant mechanism for telling several stories concurrently, and a superb 'reveal' awaits the listener to weave each strand into a completed tableux as the book concludes.

    My fourth Alastair Reynolds audible book and my favorite so far, highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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