Quick Review of Alastair Reynolds’ The Prefect

The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


When Alastair Reynolds is on, his work is amazing. He is an undisputed master of hard science fiction. Unfortunately he was not on for this one. The Prefect–the name of the book was changed from Aurora Rising–is mind-numbingly tedious. Changing the name didn’t help. From the beginning of this story, he introduces unappealing characters that I find it hard to care about. Tom Dreyfus is a pseudo-cop involved in rooting out voter fraud, bad AIs, augmented humans, and other future-y stuff. Bad things happen, who cares.

In his Revelation Space future history universe, Reynolds has created a sweeping epic spanning millions of years. The problem is that each of the stories is a snippet and there’s no coherent arc unifying the vastness. He’s published stories covering events happening in the next few hundred years, then some several million years in the future, back a few millenia, and so forth. He addresses some interesting and even amazing concepts in a nebulous setting with bland, lifeless characters. I want to like it all, but it just doesn’t come together for me.



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Goodreads Review of House of Suns

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’ve been on an Alastair Reynolds binge recently and they absolutely don’t get much better than this. Reynolds is a master of hard-science fiction. House of Suns is a loose whodunit featuring six million year old clones wandering the galaxy in deep time. The thousand (give or take) clones of Abigail Gentian meet up every revolution of the galaxy for a reunion and now someone wants them dead. The concept that struck me was how the mind would cope with six million years of memories. At the reunions the clones download and share their memory strands but they still retain most of them.

There are a few weak spots. Two of the clones, Purslane and Campion, have chosen to consort, that is, to form a personal relationship. They’re lovers. This is frowned upon by the rest of the Gentian line. The chapters alternate between his POV and hers, which would be fine if there was a lick of difference in the two characters. Maybe that was intentional, but I think not. You have to deduce POV from the action.

The other (mostly minor) gripe is that the ending is very abrupt. Major plot issues are resolved but the final chapter seemingly ends in mid-scene.

I still give House of Suns two thumbs, way up.



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