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Publisher's Summary

2057. Humanity has raised exploiting the solar system to an art form. Bella Lind and the crew of her nuclear-powered ship, the Rockhopper, push ice. They mine comets. And they're good at it.

The Rockhopper is nearing the end of its current mission cycle, and everyone is desperate for some much-needed R & R, when startling news arrives from Saturn: Janus, one of Saturn's ice moons, has inexplicably left its natural orbit and is now heading out of the solar system at high speed. As layers of camouflage fall away, it becomes clear that Janus was never a moon in the first place. It's some kind of machine - and it is now headed toward a fuzzily glimpsed artifact 260 light-years away. The Rockhopper is the only ship anywhere near Janus, and Bella Lind is ordered to shadow it for the few vital days before it falls forever out of reach. In accepting this mission, she sets her ship and her crew on a collision course with destiny - for Janus has more surprises in store, and not all of them are welcome.

©2008 Alastair Reynolds (P)2010 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[Reynolds is] a genius for big-concept SF and fans of Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama and Larry Niven's Ringworld will love this novel." (Publishers Weekly

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Jesse
  • Portland, OR, United States
  • 01-14-12

Proof that a good story doesn't require a trilogy

I was led to Pushing Ice on the recommended reading list in another book I own. I had a few credits to spare and decided to try it out. I was happy to see that John Lee was narrating, as I've enjoyed his other work (Count of Monte Cristo particularly). But this was my first exposure to Alastair Reynolds.

Right out of the gate I was engaged. The depiction of life aboard a comet mining ship was really first rate with very little in the way of "space magic" thrown in. The characters were interesting and the events of the first portion of the book were so gripping I found myself pulled into the slip stream (wink).

The development of the plot from beginning to end is quite broad in scope, and Mr. Reynolds doesn't slow down to spoon feed every portion of the the plot which I enjoyed. There are a couple of lulls in the story when new events are being set up that dragged by comparison to other parts, but they were by no means boring.

In the end, the quality of Pushing Ice is a result of the whole story rather than any one character or plot arc. It's a great experience that I'd recommend to any fan of science fiction.

Aliens, castaways, relativistic quandries, mortality, betrayal, vengeance, love, sacrifice, cosmic insignificance and perserverance...all delivered to your ears by the smooth-as-butter voice of John Lee.

71 of 72 people found this review helpful

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Hard Science Space Adventure

Pushing Ice is really a mind-expanding view of the universe on a scale of time that goes beyond my ability to imagine. There are some interesting aliens and some vague secondary characters, but the two primary characters are both women and the plot boils down to a battle of wits and wills between these two. Both characters have dimension, but neither quite hit the mark for me on the believability scale. Bella Lind, captain of the Rockhopper, is more magnanimous and long-suffering than any one I've known. Svetlana Barseghian is more egocentric and openly vindictive than most people I know, but I might accept that if there was some explanation for it. It is almost impossible to feel much empathy for Svetlana because there is no backstory on her to help the listener understand why she is so completely inflexible. And because of that, it is difficult to comprehend the relationship between Svetlana and her kind-hearted husband (he wants to have children with that mean girl??), how Bella Lind and Svetlana ever became friends, or why any group of reasonable people would accept Svetlana's leadership. In the end, the Lindblad artifact created such a fun, clever twist in the plot, I enjoyed the story even if the characters weren't quite up to par.

Not as good as House of Suns, but a fun space adventure with some good hard science. I am now listening to my fourth Alistair Reynolds book and loving his writing, but I have learned that getting a good plot summary in advance (the publishers' summaries are usually useless) is a great idea to keep you from getting lost at the beginning. I kind of think a woman narrator might have been a better choice on this book since the two central characters and an important secondary character are women, but John Lee was, as always, quite good.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Another solid Reynolds effort

Reynolds manages to bring forth another novel of the same quality as the Revelation Space series that serves to place him at the forefront (perhaps along with Peter Hamilton) as one of the pre-eminent contemporary sci-fi writer today. The pacing of the plot appears slow at first and gains speed as the storyline progresses, but in reality, Reynolds is shadowing the relativistic time dilation that the characters are undergoing. Another of Reynolds' talents is to unfold his tales along a Richter scale of increasing complexity and scope.

The overall theme of story surrounds female friendship and its complicated interplay between the personal and professional, along with a higher duty to society. As is typical of Reynolds, the science is inviting and doesn't overwhelm the storytelling. His rendition of aliens is also refreshing in its diversity.

Hopefully, this is merely the opening volley in what promises to be an evolving series. The tantalizing glimpses at the very end of the menagerie suggests possiblities for endless future installments both within and outside. We can only hope that Reynolds doesn't disappoint.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • mark
  • Clarkston, GA, United States
  • 02-11-12

About 80% of a great book

First, the good part. Reynolds has a rare gift for weaving hard science into his plot. The matter of fact limitations of physics and effects of near light speed travel make this novel stand out from a host of lazy sci-fi. The author is undeniably adroit at imagining and describing alien and future worlds and this makes for a compelling and at times irresistible narrative.

However...the science and alternate worlds are by far the best part of the book. The characters inhabiting these worlds are entirely flat and opaque, and I do not mean unlikable. Based on previous reviews I expected the characters might be harsh or unsympathetic, but instead I have almost no idea what their motivations might be. They have little internal narrative, and character development is strictly one-dimensional, A to B. They are alternately self-righteous and petty, occasionally stopping in the middle of the most intense danger to be catty to each other. Whenever they begin talking the story comes to a screeching halt. The dialogue is stilted and odd, and sounds nothing like actual human conversation.

With all of this being said, if you can overlook the paper cut-out characters and get past the parts where they talk, there is a fascinating, magnetic story here. I do hope Reynolds continues this universe in the future, with better characters.

25 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Another book i regret not buying it earlier

This book was amazing.... i really loved it and loved all what happened.

But there is one issue with this book.. is how they jump between years... i reading this book and in a point it suddenly jumped forward in time without saying "x-time later"

other than that the book was a blast...

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Best by author

Without doubt, Pushing Ice is the best book I have listened to by Reynolds. The book is exciting, interesting, and imaginative. Even though the book is long [3 parts] it will hold your attention throughout. If you only listen to one book by this author, this is the one you want to choose. It is his best work..

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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A bit weird

A long story. It dragged in places, but when it was exciting, it was very exciting. I didn't like the portrayal of the two female characters. Most women who are that smart won't be so antagonistic over such a long period of time. Especially when they see the harm it does to the society in which they live. Just my opinion.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Liking Reynolds more with each book

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!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic!

I love to listen to Reynold's books. This one was the best yet. I was amazed at how he manages to weave together so many different themes in one breath-taking adventure. Friendship, time, civilization, enmity... I'm truly astonished, not least because it adds up to a real 'page turner' (or the audiobook equivalent). As usual, John Lee's reading succeeds in keeping my focus on the narrative and keeps itself backgrounded. Cannot praise enough!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Great Science Fiction

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Martin
  • 04-26-12

Great story, annoying main characters..

Overall the listen was very enjoyable, I have listened to a lot by this narrator and find him very easy to listen to. The premise of the story was excellent and really what drew me in to listening, that side of the listen was great and I would love see more stories set in this universe or even a sequel to this book. My major gripe with the story was the soap opera like bickering between the leaders of the crew. It didnt seem to me neccessary and really detracted from what was an excellent plot. The fact the neither of them came across as making many decisions that were actually sensible and were so transparently bad left me lacking any real belief that either of them would be in charge of things. I kind of ending up wishing that either one of these characters would be killed off at some point so what I saw as the main plot of story could carry on. I will try some more Alastair Reynolds, this my being first, I have listened to and enjoyed a lot of Peter F Hamilton. I think I could safely say they are comparable. If Peter F Hamilton can be said to be a bit too optimistic about how people behave and things tend to be a bit "nicer". I suppose I would say my first impression of Alistair Reynolds is he is a bit less optimistic about how people behave and things turn out. Probably a more realistic view of people, just not sure I want my Sci Fi escapes to be somewhere that I find myself not liking the main characters. Hope the next one has less of that..

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 03-01-11

As interesting as the characters think it is

This is solid hard sci-fi, the story of a human crew pushed to do something extraordinary, and what happens to them under the pressure of it all. The narration takes a bit of getting used to. The. Narrator seems. To insert pauses. In random. Spots. But in the end I quite enjoyed the delivery.

Technically Reynolds paints an interesting and convincing picture of a near future space-faring society. He seems to delight in the intricate details of how a space crew might operate, and the way in which scientific principles that are quite abstract here on Earth become so important in the context of space travel (red shift for example).

It's a story that is ultimately about the relationships between the crew members, which bodes well, but unfortunately the characters are never entirely convincing and the plot skims the edges of melodrama in places.

Perhaps most frustratingly (especially for people drawn in by the similarity to novels like Rama) the characters never share the curiosity and wonder that we feel as readers when they encounter the amazing sights and sounds that the plot gradually reveals. So prepare to spend hours and hours wondering what on Earth Janus actually is, while they bicker, poke around in the engines, play with fish, fiddle with spacetime, and generally couldn't seem to care less.

So in the end although Pushing Ice is an interesting tale with a decent enough pay off, and will still appeal to fans of the genre, it doesn't quite live up to its first promise.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony Nixon
  • 04-15-12

A gripping and enjoyable listen

I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book which gripped me throughout. The book's strengths were the womderful imagination displayed in creating an intricate, convincing, and constantly evolving alien world into which our human heros are tossed. The book's weakness was the somewhat unconvincing description of the human society established in this alien world, and the strange moral choices that our heros sometimes make. I have listened to better readers than John Lee, but he was clear throughout.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Patrick
  • 02-09-12

SO good !

I once read a review in which an Icelandic girl said that Sigur ros were so good 'she wanted to vomit' ! I wouldn't go that far but Alastair has out-done himself yet again, startling scope and imagination, a vivid pleasure to listen to. Can't wait for "Blue Remembered Earth"

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 05-08-12

A Great idea that lost its way

The prologue almost made me give up on this from the outset, with a futuristic and oh so dull collection of hippies with daft names talking about something banal (it makes more sense when you get to the end of the audiobook). Thankfully I pushed on past that and the first half of the book was really good, with a clever well thought out plot that kept you interested. Unfortunately, about half way through I felt it completely lost its way. There was a lot about feuding factions, human relationships, and bizarre happenings, ending with a fizzle rather than a bang. Overall I'm glad I stuck it out and got to the end, and in fairness, I can see why others rave about it, but I shan't be listening to it again, or buying any more of Reynolds' books for that matter. Each to their own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy Dawson
  • 08-15-17

👌

quite superb - although the narrator's accents are sometimes as little wobbly. I think this is Reynold's best book, anchored as it is in reasonably near future technology.

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  • Richie F
  • 10-25-15

What a shame.

Already know what a fantastic story this is so thought I'd try Audible offering.
The narration was disjointed and was more "stated" than spoken and the edits between obvious breaks was horrendous. Refund requested.

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  • JIM
  • 07-20-15

Well performed, Engaging and vast

What did you like most about Pushing Ice?

A really well performed story, spanning large amounts of time and space in a well sculpted universe.

What other book might you compare Pushing Ice to, and why?

With similarities to many stories in the genre, such as the Void series by Peter F Hamilton and many other first contact tales, Pushing Ice fared well with regard to inventive and unique

Any additional comments?

Though some of the jumps in time seemed a little awkward, this was on the whole an excellent book, and definitely recommended.

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  • Gerard the dog
  • 05-06-14

Un-gripping

What did you like best about Pushing Ice? What did you like least?

Nothing much. John Lee' narrative was up to his usual high standard and familiar and made the story bearable, otherwise bland and vague characters, questionable inter-relational threads and dull story.

Would you be willing to try another book from Alastair Reynolds? Why or why not?

Nope

What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

Overall performance

Do you think Pushing Ice needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

no - dont really care about characters and doubt they would get more interesting - all rather depressing.

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  • Dave Roden
  • 05-09-13

Excellent narrator - really adaptable voice.

The underlying storyline is great, however the notion of internal strife in such a small group of people on such scales and with such unbelievable ferocity ruins it to an extent.

The narrator is another story in himself - thankfully - what excellent voice characterisations and intonations - liked very much.

There is a little over attention to detail once in a while - but that is to be expected with an unabridged audio version - not really a critisicm - more an observation for myself - perhaps I should choose abridged versions?

Anyway - was entertaining on the way to work over the last month so I'd say it was a credit reasonably well spent.

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  • Leonie
  • 05-14-16

Great book, loving Alistair Reynolds so far.

John lee is a fantastic narrator, one of the best. Great sci fi, no fluff, crack on with it style.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Staas
  • 06-08-17

good scifi

i really enjoyed the science in this book. it explored some space travel and time concepts that i thought were quite original.
some exceptional female lead characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-02-17

A marvellous standalone sci-fi

Reynolds has seriously created a marvel of sci-fi novels. It is well constructed, interestingly written, and full of strange and innovative ideas.

Lee, while initially not being my favourite narrator, is now very near the top of my list of narrators. His classical style of speech goes well with the voices and characters he portrays; his accents well placed and in all ways engaging and real.

Overall, a great book, a great story. Excellent for those who love sci-fi, or those who wish to invest in their first sci-fi novel.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • pshlykov
  • 03-28-16

Really amazing story

A story which moves, seeds hope and reason to work, learn. Highly recommended to everyone

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  • Mynhardt
  • 01-19-16

Not Worth your Time

[{ "answer" : "I think the plot is good but the way the story is written sucks...Its like the writer gets confused with his own characters of who said what. Also it is like watching a 3 or 4 man show...there is a lot of other people on the ship but its like they don't exist.", "type" : "Overall", "question" : "What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you? ", "id" : 37, "typeString" : "overall" }, { "answer" : "There is out branches of the story that just never get mentioned again. There is huge jumps in time and no real explanation of what happen in between like...one person is the leader and after the jump in time someone else is the leader with almost no explanation of how or why. To me this book felt like a first try...maybe his future books will have better pacing and better writing.", "type" : "Story", "question" : "What could Alastair Reynolds have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you? ", "id" : 4, "typeString" : "story" }, { "answer" : "", "type" : "Performance", "question" : "How could the performance have been better?", "id" : 32, "typeString" : "performance" }, { "answer" : "Cut nothing and add more like painting the picture better...filling out secondary characters...don't copy paste characters and just change few things.", "type" : "Genre", "question" : "If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Pushing Ice?", "id" : 63, "typeString" : "genre" }, { "answer" : "Wait for this writer to become more experienced in writing...he has a good story in his head but fails to put it to paper.", "type" : "Misc", "question" : "Any additional comments?", "id" : -1, "typeString" : "misc" } ]

0 of 2 people found this review helpful