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Home Books On the Steel Breeze – Alastair Reynolds - Pushing forward back

On the Steel Breeze – Alastair Reynolds - Pushing forward back

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On the Steel Breeze – Alastair Reynolds
Pushing forward back
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With opening chapters which summarise the events of Blue Remembered Earth without spoiling the mysteries which drove that novel, the new reader is brought up to speed swiftly and efficiently, but for those wishing to revisit Geoffrey and Sunday Akinya, neither are forgotten, nor the late clan matriarch Eunice whose legacy still drives the push outwards from the solar system in surprising ways, the artilect constructed of her memories still active and participatory, though concealed.

With much of the narrative set aboard a vast colony ship, there are reminders of the interludes of Reynolds’ second novel, Chasm City, though despite the divisions among the flotilla and the setbacks they encounter, fortunately there are none aboard so ruthless as the Santiago’s Sky Haussman, determined his ship should reach its destination first at any cost.

Similarly, Reynolds has featured clones before, the Gentian line of House of Suns, split into a thousand shatterlings, and the sharing of memories by the Chikus reminds of Robert A Heinlein’s Time for the Stars where a pair of telepathic twins could instantaneously communicate across the light years, though the experience of the Chikus is more practically realised because they must contend with the time lag of the speed of light.

While the machine substrate consciousness has quite intelligently embraced an aspect of Frederik Pohl’s Nebula winning novel Man Plus, another concept from House of Suns explored very differently here is the animosity between organic and synthetic life, and there are aspects of the Eunice artilect which remind of Hesperus, the survivor of the Machine People who became a guest of the Gentian Line, though as a character she bears no resemblance.

Continuing his predilection for strong female leads, the Chikus are fascinating, bound together though separated by light years, any rivalry between ultimately a competition with themselves. Also interesting is Travertine, a being with vis own personal pronouns for reasons never explained, and it is likely that the descendants of the briefly met Dakota will play a huge part in the future of the human colonists and that of her own species.

Once again, Reynolds hasn’t just written a grand space opera, a technologically plausible exodus across the frontiers of space, diverse populations and families and ecosystems carried in carved out asteroids to the stars, he has created a mystery which he teasingly unravels before his readers. Though the novel occasionally drags, it is a satisfying and rounded narrative, and the conclusion indicates two directions which will likely be taken in the as yet unnamed third volume, to be set much deeper into the future.

Most excitingly, Crucible offers not only the Mandala but another presence, the first time Reynolds has approached the science fiction trope of the “big dumb object” since 2005’s Pushing Ice, though in this instance it might be more appropriate to term it a “big smart object,” the apparent silence the result of the unimaginable gulf between the human narrators and their discovery.

While that is perhaps best left alone, it is Travertine who explains why that will not happen: “Meddling is what we do. It’s what defines us. Meddling gave us fire and tools and civilisation and the keys to the universe. Fingers will get burned along the way, yes. That’s the way of it.”

On the Steel Breeze is available now from Gollancz

Geek Chocolate have previously interviewed Alastair Reynolds, and we have reviewed is novels Blue Remembered Earth and Terminal World, his short story collection Deep Navigation and his Doctor Who novel Harvest of Time



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Comments  

 
#5 bill 2014-08-25 22:16
Allistair Reynolds is one of only a handful of writers who are actually writing science fiction with real science. His characters are involving, his stories are inspiring and if you would deprive yourself of his writing because of an inventive turn of phrase, then you'll only get what you deserve!
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#4 karl 2014-06-26 02:41
The ve and the ver with Travertine makes reading the book frustrating and for me annoyingly stupid.Only a dumb ass would stick it in his story line over and over.Thanks, Reynolds
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#3 Brett 2014-01-16 14:03
Great book, but the who ve, vis, ver think with Travertine with no explanation, and then for him to say in other online sources that he felt no need to explain what was common knowledge among the characters.. Well it makes him seems arrogant to me. Its like him saying I know the truth, but tough luck to you silly plebs who buy my book.. Its enough to put me off getting the next book this attitude. I am sure some will disagree, but this matter has left me less inclined to ever buy a book of his again.
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#2 eevee 2014-01-08 14:35
Quoting chris:
Amazing book I must say, the only reason I found this site (which is a good find) is because I'm trying to find out about Travertine and as said above what the special pronouns are about...

I was waiting for some explanation the whole way through and got nothing, this is really bugging me now, does anyone have any ideas about this?

Some sort of asexual designation maybe?

I hate not knowing the answers!

Chris


The English language lacks a singular gender-neutral pronoun, which is a gap that many people who identify with neither gender, (or do not consider gender to be of personal significance) have sought to fill for a long time. It's reasonable to expect that in Reynolds' future, where traditional gender roles have become obsolete, these sorts of pronouns would become more widely adopted.
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#1 chris 2013-10-25 11:44
Amazing book I must say, the only reason I found this site (which is a good find) is because I'm trying to find out about Travertine and as said above what the special pronouns are about...

I was waiting for some explanation the whole way through and got nothing, this is really bugging me now, does anyone have any ideas about this?

Some sort of asexual designation maybe?

I hate not knowing the answers!

Chris
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