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
"Consistently startling.... Reynolds remains one of the hottest...SF writers around." (Publishers Weekly)
Hard Sci-Fi Connoiseur.
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.
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.
The protagonist. There is no way I can explain without blowing the book.
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.
If you liked Revelation Space, you'll like this book even more! Although an entirely new string of characters are introduced and the story seems to deter from the 'long plot' set up in Revelation Space, the story in this book is more entertaining and engaging overall. I really enjoyed this book b/c the characters are all very strong and the plot keeps you intrigued through every twist and turn. John Lee, as always, does a fantastic job developing character personalities through their voices, no complaints there. About the only thing i was disappointed with in this book was the deviation from the 'long plot' of the Revelation Space series but as i said, its absolutely worth a listen.
After reading six of his novels, I would recommend that "hard" sci-fi fans of "space opera" start here with Alastair Reynolds. Chasm City kind of blew my mind. Reynolds has done some very creative things writing in the first person, and Chasm City is my favorite example. After Chasm City, try "The Prefect" and/or "House of Suns." If you're really enjoying yourself, proceed to Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap or some of the others, which I can't yet comment on.
I like the style of the way this fellow writes, and he creates very interesting and engaging characters. The plot line seemed to hold a lot of potential. But, as the protagonist slips into having more and more dreams, it reminded me of Hamilton's Dreaming Void and Temporal Void novels. Feels like an easy out for the author, although I will say Reynolds' dreams at least expand the story and seem to make some sense. Both authors seemed to rely on characters having unbelievable powers to the point of being ludicrous (and another easy way out of needing more rational explanations). And, what the protagonist and almost everyone else does to the aliens in the "6th ship" behind the convoy is just downright inhuman. Of course, how those aliens ever managed to build anything given their physiology strains credulity. In the end, I felt more sympathy / empathy for the aliens and Methusala (an old fish) than I did for any of these distinctly unlikeable characters. I can't recommend this one, but I appreciated they way Reynolds and the narrator told the story, flawed though it may be. And so, I know I'll listen to another Reynolds yarn.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This book/series had almost universally positive reviews. The story is quite complex, with multiple time-lines and multiple story-lines that don’t come together until the very end. There are some interesting story elements and interesting ideas, yet I never got into the story and did not care about the conclusion.
This book has a combination of sub-genre which I don’t prefer. First, the characters are largely from the military-sci-fi sub-genre (even the non-military characters), with somewhat flat, military characterizations, having little of the nuances of flesh and blood characters. Second, the story is largely from the fantasy-sci-fi sub-genre, where the science is not really integrated with the story, and is instead only used to create a framework for the fantasy themes. The science does not really hang together into an integrated whole. For example there is clearly very high sensor technology available, yet some guy keeps a totally secret compartment large enough to keep a huge alien technically enhanced psychotic dolphin (and a few people) hidden on a spacecraft secret for decades.
It felt to me that the science and characterizations were very subordinate to the fantasy/mystery aspects of the story. Characters would do things modestly inconsistent with their character because the story required it. The science seemed incidental, providing whatever was necessary as a framework for the mostly fantasy story.
It seems most people find the complex fantasy/mystery aspects of this story well worth time. I did finish it, but will not go on in the series.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Ex-soldier/sniper/assassin/security chief Tanner Mirabel was born on Sky's Edge, a backwater world colonized hundreds of years ago by the first and last solar-system-born flotilla of generation ships that upon reaching the target world disintegrated into a never-ending civil war. Thus when the people of Sky's Edge trade with space-living Ultranauts for advanced technologies, they eschew longevity in favor of weaponry. Other cultures like that of the planet Yellowstone's Chasm City's "post-mortal," body-modifying, and jaded aristocrats (who live in the Canopy above the Mulch-dwelling downtrodden humans and bio-engineered pigs) view Sky's Edge as a world of quaint savages. But Chasm City has its own problems, having been visited seven years ago by the Melding Plague, which mutated myriad nanotech machines, especially the "medichines" embedded throughout bodies, brains, and blood streams, and made nightmarish monstrosities like human-building hybrids. The plague is somewhat under control, thanks in part to the mysterious drug Dream Fuel--But what will happen when Tanner comes to Chasm City on a quest of revenge against Argent Reivich, a Sky's Edge aristocrat whose men shot off Tanner's foot and killed his arms dealer boss Cahuella and Cahuella's wife Gitta, on whom Tanner had a crush? And what is the meaning of Tanner's vivid "dreams" (complete with stigmata) of the life of Sky Haussmann, the man responsible for getting the flotilla to Sky's Edge but also for committing such heinous crimes that he was crucified, thereby inspiring a religion to spring up around his legend?
Alastair Reynolds' big novel Chasm City (2001), like his others, is full of sublime space opera noir replete with driven characters and flora and fauna and technologies and cultures extrapolated from particular (often extreme) environments. Tanner is no saint, having become a clinical assassin killing even his own side's soldiers without questioning the reasons for his orders, and then having gone to work as security chief for war criminal Cahuella. But he does have a knightly code whereby if you help him he'll help you, if the situation permits he won't be unnecessarily cruel or homicidal, and if he gives his word he keeps it. He is quite the tough talker, as if having stepped out of a hardboiled pulp mystery and into a space opera. Indeed, some of the dialogue is cliched or klunky, like "Gideon is extremely bad news," and "Don't even think about trying something or you'll become an interesting addition to the décor." That said, Reynolds also writes some neat lines, like "You look so out of place, Tanner, that you're in danger of starting a fashion," and "Just start the thing up, or the only composing you'll be doing is decomposing."
Anyway, Reynolds writes great, vivid, sf-strange descriptions. The giant hamadryad "snakes" of Sky's Edge and the outre denizens and buildings of Chasm City and the creepy kinky Ultras of no fixed address are all top notch. He does great space opera sublime, as in his depiction of super advanced alien maggots or grubs who've been space faring for at least 300 million years, long enough to make all human endeavor look like a veneer of dust atop a mountain. (Hey, I enjoy having my species get taken down a peg or two.) And check out this clockwork gun: "It was made completely out of carbon--diamond, mostly--but with some fullerenes for lubrication and energy-storage. There were no metals or explosives in it; no circuitry. Only intricate levers and ratches, greased by fullerene spheres. It fired spin-stabilised diamond flechettes, drawing its power from the relaxation of fullerene springs coiled almost to breaking point. You wound it up with a key, like a clockwork mouse."
(Alas, after plenty of attention, the gun plays no role in the plot.)
Reynolds writes exciting action scenes, featuring plenty of graphic violence. But he has a prudish aversion to sex, as in the only scene hinting at love making:
I pulled her to me, looking into her face.
"For today, yes."
[Here we must imagine the sexy interlude that Reynolds doesn't write.]
I woke before Zebra.
He likes to start in the middle of the action and to dole out information little by little, so that beginning his book is disorienting, but if you persevere and grasp clues, you start figuring out what's happened and caring about what will happen. (In fact, a few times in the second half of the novel he tries to be too helpful by summarizing too much information to be sure the reader keeps up to speed.)
There are plenty of compelling themes here: life and death, immortality and mortality, memory and identity, war and peace, the degree to which ethical action is essential or relative, the possibility of personal or social change, etc.
However, I have trouble with the "Life's what you make it" theme and the suggestion that hero and war criminal are just fluid definitions applied by people in power. That's probably true, but such an attitude may be used to remove responsibility for war crimes and murder. Is Reynolds advocating a let-the-past-go approach to atrocities because we're different today, as if changing into better people frees us from having to pay for past crimes?
About the audiobook. . . Although reader John Lee does a great booming Lago/Maggot, creepy Marco Ferris, and sandpapery Reivich and brings the book to life, too often he tries too hard to differentiate characters from the same class in the same culture via different accents, like Quirrenbach (German ?) and Zebra (British), both of whom are from Chasm City's Canopy, or Gomez (cockney or Celtic?) and Sky (British), both of whom are from the Santiago generation ship. And when he's not indulging in accents, many of his characters sound similar, due to his British base accent and somewhat snide dialogue delivery.
Chasm City shares the same universe as many of Reynolds' other novels, but I believe they are all stand alones. Fans of big scale hardboiled space opera should like this book.
I am a great listener of series type stories, but this one, on book 1 is very hard to follow. The story line jumps around and he narrator makes all people sound the same so following them is extra hard. It is slow and overly technical. Not a recommendation at all. I want to apply for a credit return.
Yes - he is mono toned and singular voiced - not easy to follow characters.
The story had nothing to do with the first book. I found the "dream sequences" more interesting than the main story.
Original, relentless, grim
The story has arc works fantastically allowing you to piece together the plots strands just at the right pace.
All characters are fantastic and John Lee's voice is perfectly suited to each of them, had me gripped!
The resolution - without wanting to give anything away...
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.
"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
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.
"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.
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.
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