Spearpoint, the last human city, is an atmosphere-piercing spire of vast size. Clinging to its skin are the zones, a series of semi-autonomous city-states, each of which enjoys a different - and rigidly enforced - level of technology. Following an infiltration mission that went tragically wrong, Quillon has been living incognito, working as a pathologist in the district morgue.
But when a near-dead angel drops onto his dissecting table, Quillon's world is wrenched apart one more time. If Quillon is to save his life, he must leave his home and journey into the cold and hostile lands beyond Spearpoint's base, starting an exile that will take him further than he could ever imagine. But there is far more at stake than just Quillon's own survival, for the limiting technologies of the zones are determined not by governments or police but by the very nature of reality---and reality itself is showing worrying signs of instability.
©2010 Alastair Reynolds (P)2010 Tantor
"A rousing adventure in a widly original setting." (Guardian, UK)
I don't often post a wordy review. So when I do, I really felt it was important!
Reynolds creates a fantastic sort of world, with all sorts of questions and concepts to keep me thinking far /outside/ of the book.
I've no problems with his characterizations, and enjoyed the progression the main character made over time - but that having been said, the real strength of this book in my mind is the progression through the world itself, new, mysterious lands, ideas, and concepts.
Through it all, a solid level of tension pervades, and I don't think think any portion felt like a real lull. The ending is both incomplete and complete - that is to say, you can see the direction things will go after the conclusion, and even envisage another book, but it might not be necessary, and can stand on it's own.
That having been said, I'll note I'm very comfortable with Reynold's style, and have more or less ended up binging on everything he's published recently! John Lee seems the perfect sci-fi narrator to me, perhaps because of prior experience - but I've developed a deep fondness for his voice over time, and this book is no exception.
Sci-fi, History, Police Procedurals and Science
Reynolds wroite one of my favorite SF series -- the Revelation Space Inhibitor books. Those are dark and VERY long. This is somewhat lighter, easier to get into -- but crammed full of fascinating ideas. Almost like he is considering a long series.
It has a little techno-cyber punk-steam punk feel. But it is a solid piece of science fiction and as always has a fascinating mix of hard SF, wild flights of imagination and characterization.
Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself: Oh crap! now I have to wait patiently for the next two in this series -- and really hope that they come.
The construct at the center of the story and the main character are two of Reynolds best -- and this is the best SF I have read this year.
OK...so I'm waiting for more in Hamilton's Pandora's Star/Void series, or Revelation Space, or Hyperion or this.......let's get going folks.
Class warfare in the dismal/distant future.. A good Sci-Fi adventure yarn..with an imagination, i enjoyed the literal vertical stratification of societies .A bit of analogy to what's here now. By the way, the narrator, John Lee is the best..
I've very happily worked my way through the Revelation series (and Chasm City) in print and was looking forward to something new from the author. Where the Revelation series was special this book is average at best. What really hurt, though, was the narrator. First impressions were that he has a great voice -- strong and well-spoken. Unfortunately his strength of voice and matter-of-fact style of reading overpowers any nuance that should come through in the words and sentences. This dooms the book (aided by the writing to some extent) to sound like simply a dry reading of events rather than providing any sense of tension or drama.
It was interesting, a good world but there were too many places I couldn't believe. I'll be watching the author for better though.
One of my favorite sci fi authors showing he cant write a bad story. ive put off reading this for a while. but i regret itso much. such an interesting premise!
Also. John Lee is prblly my favorite narrator. Ever.
Quillon is an odd bird in more ways than one. As a medical examiner for District 3 of Neon Heights he gets to check out all weird brain teaser corpses collected by sanitation. Somebody who cares about him is relying on that to deliver him a message.
Meroka starts out being Quillon’s bodyguard and guide until she evolves into a partner in his realized save the species mission. Their travels bring them in into contact with ghouls, Angels, Carnivorgs, Skullboys, the outcast Military organization of Dirigibles called Swarm and beings with nanomachine infused brains called Tectomancers.
It’s a full book. There is a character, Tulwar, in here that reminds me of the metal guardian from Logan’s Run only this one is Steampunk and greedy. Since we’re tossing genres around get your brain around this work of: Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Dieselpunk, Transhumanist, interdimensional travel.
Excellent crafting and narration throughout get this work four out of five entertainment award units of your choice. Stock up on Zone shift sickness meds and get moving. Enjoy!
Books with this kind of premise, different tech in different areas are just not logically possible. Alastair does his best (and I thought for a minute he might have pulled it off, but not in the end.
Great premise (which is the only reason the overall rating is a 2 rather than a 1), however, this seemed like three different novels crammed into one: a sci fi mystery, an escape thriller (complete with a film noir chase through a hurtling train), and a steampunk dystopian political intrique. Solving the mystery of the city, which seemed like the most fascinating character in the book, was given rather short shrift, after all of its build-up.
Through it all, a protagonist initially made interesting by his stolen past inexplicably transforms almost overnight into a noble rescuer of mysterious women and lost children. His frequent sermons on how his actions are only motivated by being 'the only right thing to do,' grew tiresome about halfway through the story (long before the sermons stopped). I thought that an angel surgically and genetically altered to pass as a human would be much more interesting, but a number of the secondary characters, though as one-dimensionally drawn as Quillon, were much more engaging.
"Like most Alistair Reynolds, ends doesn't finish!"
Very unusual story, not familiar with Steam punk but the plot made it all make sense. Bit slow in the middle but rest good... apart from the "ending" which unsatisfactorily just stops having without ever explaining more than 10% of what was being built up to. I'm all for not explaining every detail in an ending but AR goes so far beyond this I'm not going to read any more of his books despite enjoying pushing ice (did end satisfactorily) and the "travel" to the end of this book. It took me a lot of time to try another Alistair Reynolds after ploughing through the Revelation Space trilogy (not including Chasm City) as audiobook to find a meh conclusion after 76hrs of listening time!
"A compelling read"
I am new to Alistair Reynolds' books, in fact I have only started listening to them since having audible.
I really enjoyed this title. Great story, with a thoroughly steam punk edge, air ships and all.
Clever concept and way of moving through different locations. Good protagonist and some endearing supporting characters.
Overall a good science fiction / steam punk read!
"Good SciFi, Fantastic Narrator"
Classic Alastair Reynolds. A well fleshed out world, with some thought provoking ideas
The Zones where Life and Technology are limited by a higher force. Shame there wont be a sequel. It leaves the story, at least to me, unfinished.
John Lee is my favourite narrator his voice performances are stunning and his reading pace perfect, John makes narration a pleasure to listen to.
I will willingly buy any book John Lee narrates .
Definitely, the Revelation Space series is superb! John Lee has a great voice that adds power and importance to anything he reads.
John is one of my favorite narrators and this is first class. Would recommend Pandora's Star by Peter F Hamilton and read by John Lee as the Cream of the Sci Fi Crop!
Fast paced story set in a very different future world. I liked the idea of a wholly airborne community (The Swarm). Characters a bit two dimensional. Fairly well narrated..
"i've liked other reynolds' books"
Really didn't enjoy the characterisations and tone. Yes they were all clearly differentiated in accents, but the tone was so similar and overblown. Disliked the audio so much I found myself imagining what it would be like to read the book rather than listen to it.
Same narrator for Revelation Space if I remember right, but he wasn't so over the top in that one.
I've liked other books Reynolds has written, but this was just horrible for me. The only character I cared about at all was the Quillam, the rest were just mostly annoying.
after enjoying previously books by Reynolds I looked forward to this.
However, it became painful working my way to the end of it. Much more difficult with an audiobook to curtail the book by turning to the back page and working forward!
My main criticism is that I never understand how the world worked at a deep level. It left a big unsatisfying feeling of questioning why and how things happened. The perhaps unfair answer I came to was that Reynolds had signed a lucrative deal and needed to produce a book by a deadline.
I am shy now of reading or listening to any further books by Reynolds - hence the one star
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