The rich get richer. And everyone tries not to think about the worrying number of extinct alien civilizations turning up on the outer reaches of settled space...because who's to say that humanity won't be next?
Set in the Revelation Space universe, this is the first short story collection by the author who has been called "one of SF's best and most ambitious novelists". The eight stories included in Galactic North are "Great Wall of Mars", "Glacial", "A Spy in Europa", "Weather", "Dilation Sleep", "Grafenwalder's Bestiary", "Nightingale", and "Galactic North".
©2008 Alastair Reynolds; (P)2009 Tantor Media
"Reynolds is one of sci-fi's brightest stars. [He] writes Big Science Fiction. Enormous spaceships travel though space that feels galactic in scale, a feat of depiction that is still noteworthy in the genre." (The Guardian, London)
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I found the first stories (Great Wall of Mars, etc) to be the most enjoyable, because they present you with the events mentioned in passing in several of the Revelation Space stories. So it was nice to read how the events unfolded.
Other than the last story (which I found very weak & shallow, with the weakest characterizations), all of them had many memorable moments that will stick with you. Reynolds universe is a fascinating place - almost all of these stories visit places we've seen before in his novels, and they do lean on you having that background.
If you've got the background of the worlds Reynolds has invented, these are very enjoyable. If you don't, then you might be a bit lost as some of these can not stand fully on their own.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
I loved each of these eight short stories set in the world of Revelation Space and roughly organized in chronological order from 2200 AD to 40,000 AD. A couple of the stories, most especially Grafenwalder's Bestiary, could stand alone, but this collection will be most appreciated by those who already know the major players and events of Reynold's signature universe. There is a sort of unifying theme to these stories that extends beyond the RS setting; they all show some aspect of retribution. This isn't slash and burn vengeance; it is more the creepy, sometimes horrifying, and always satisfying comeuppance for someone (or many people) who have perpetuated a great evil on innocents.
1. Great Wall of Mars: The beginning of the "family" of Clavain, Galiana, and Felka - often referenced in Redemption Ark, but not detailed in the trilogy. This story leads directly into the next, Glacial.
2. Glacial: My favorite RS protagonist, Clavain, as sci-fi amateur detective solves a murder mystery.
3. A Spy in Europa: Early Demarchist tale of bio-engineering gone badly wrong. This story is tied to another short in this book, Grafenwalder's Bestiary.
4. Weather: This is an ultra/conjoiner tale that is a bit of an exception to the Retribution Theme in the collection. The characters in this story have some reason to be looking for vengeance, but sidestep their opportunities. This is a sweeter story than the others in the collection, but the ending is powerful because it explains the mystery of the conjoiner engines.
5. Dilation Sleep: An ultra tale (written before Reynolds used "ultra" to describe the people of the many neural implants) of an early attempt to escape the Melding Plague.
6. Grafenwalder's Bestiary: Very creepy and VERY satisfying story about a Demarchist man who lets his ego override his ethics.
7. Nightingale: Twilight Zone-worthy story of a hospital spaceship gone badly off the rails. (Unlike the first Star Trek series where computers with conflicting precepts always explode or implode, Reynolds' machines always find way creepier means of conflict resolution!)
8. Galactic North: Great backstory for the intriguing conjoiner, Remontoire, and a 40,000 year projection of the Greenfly Invasion referenced in Absolution Gap.
In addition to the stories, you get a nice afterward from the author on this audiobook. Nothing like finding out an author you've come to love, also loves the other authors you love! Although John Lee is probably incapable of delivering a bad performance, he is better at some times than others. With this audiobook, his performance varies between stories; worst case, the narration is competent and on a couple of the stories, John Lee is exceptionally good.
If you know your way around in Revelation Space, you will love these stories. They fill in gaps in the giant canvass that Reynolds has been working on and they are each wonderfully, eerily entertaining.
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'm used to Alastair Reynolds' books being LONG. I'm used to following his Characters non-stop for 20+ hours at a time. But this series of shorter stories, set in the same Universe, is AWESOME! Reynolds seems to assume that readers will have already read his other books, and therefore doesn't go into nearly the set-up of the characters that he does in his other books... If you already know the Universe, you'll love how this series of stories expands upon events and places alluded to in the Main Series. Since you already know the characters, Reynolds is able to get straight to the action in each of the stories!
I only review my more favorites here.
Can't get enough of this author A. Reynolds. Absolution Gap (as well as Redemption Ark) were daring in brushstrokes, but this last book helps imagine areas that were missing or not clear in the whole Revelation Space scenery. The Greenfly entity makes you think farther than you thought the Inhibitors would go. Just being able to hear more about Clavain is worth it. The different stories fit in nice and actually are gripping with drama and action. To me the whole series is a classic along with the side books like The Prefect and "Chasm City" (which is a must). If you CAN -- get into this whole space opera burrito. I hear he is making a Doctor Who story. wow
Good introduction to Revelation Space and Reynolds writing style. Highly recommended for RS fans and Science Fiction fans.
Looking forward to more short stories
Fantastic, more Ultras, more Conjoiners, more fun at near light speed. Several unrelated stories and each offers its own surprises.
Hard Sci-Fi Connoiseur.
I am a HUGE Alastair Reynolds fan - the Revelation Space universe is genius. Usually short stories don't interest me much - I prefer long arcs ... the more books in a series the better. Galactic North though nicely fills in some gaps and wraps a few loose ends that irritated me in the series. Just wish it was 10 times as long! As always, John Lee crushes it.
If you like to travel far in time and space you will like these stories. The hive mind concept and humanities reaction to it are intriguingly expored in a hard SF envoirnment with space pirates and interstellar travel.
The narator gives you no warning of the end of one story and the beginning of the next. Don't get lost during these transitions.
With this collection of short stories, Alastair Reynolds has moved up into my list of "must read" authors. Looking forward to going through the rest of his oeuvre.
However, after the brilliant narration of Blue Remembered Earth, this narrator fell a bit flat. He used a grating American accent for the first character he voiced and overly portentous style nearly all the time and it took the edge off my enjoyment.
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