Sunday 11 October 2015

MINI-REVIEW: Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon Publications)

I share some brief opinions on Slow Bullets, a short story by science fiction writer Alastair Reynolds,  published by Tachyon Publications.

From the author of the Revelation Space series comes an interstellar adventure of war, identity, betrayal, and the preservation of civilization itself.

A vast conflict, one that has encompassed hundreds of worlds and solar systems, appears to be finally at an end. A conscripted soldier is beginning to consider her life after the war and the family she has left behind. But for Scur—and for humanity—peace is not to be.

On the brink of the ceasefire, Scur is captured by a renegade war criminal, and left for dead in the ruins of a bunker. She revives aboard a prisoner transport vessel. Something has gone terribly wrong with the ship.

Passengers—combatants from both sides of the war—are waking up from hibernation far too soon. Their memories, embedded in bullets, are the only links to a world which is no longer recognizable. And Scur will be reacquainted with her old enemy, but with much higher stakes than just her own life.

This is just going to be a quick review here as Slow Bullets is only a short story, but it’s a very good one. Alastair Reynolds is an author who has put out some consistently brilliant hard sci-fi work, be it Blue Remembered Earth or Revelation Space, and the Slow Bullets looks at an intriguing original universe, merging several themes together and putting a strong female lead, named Scur, at the heart of the conflict, and exploring her capture by a renegade war criminal who hasn’t yet heard about a ceasefire.

If you’re looking to explore Alistair Reynolds’ work but are worried about investing in a full length novel, Slow Bullets is perfect. It’s a quick read and offers a very accessible story to new readers, not feeling like most of the hard science fiction that Reynolds normally writes. The short is unpredictable and enthralling, and the lead character, Scur, is a likeable and well developed protagonist. Reynolds manages to weave a compelling and engaging science fiction short far better than a few full length novels that I’ve read recently, with everything falling into place to work perfectly. It’s amazing how, given the short pagecount, Reynolds is able to develop and expand the world, and blends everything together very well indeed.

Slow Bullets is a confident read from Reynolds that will please fans and newcomers alike, and hopefully it will draw in new readers and encourage them to explore more of the writer’s work. Highly Recommended.


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