"The Recollection" is Gareth L Powell's second full length novel, following on from "Silversands" (Pendragon Press) and his acclaimed short story collection "The Last Reef". And it is from "The Last Reef" that "The Recollection" draws most heavily, particularly from the short story Arches. It's fascinating to see the genesis of a novel in a short story, and the collection, from Elastic Press, is worth seeking out.
"The Recollection" opens with Ed's brother Verne falling through a mysterious arch at the bottom of an escalator at a London Underground station, leaving his brother Ed, and his wife (and Ed's on-off lover) Alice, to solve the mystery of his disappearance. Arches are appearing all over the world, and they lead to other planets, other arches, drawing Ed and Alice through the universe in their quest to find Verne.
Meanwhile, in a distant future, Kat Abdulov and her psychically linked spaceship, Ameline, are in a desperate race with her former lover to a remote planet. But what they find when they get there is shocking, throwing them back together in a most unexpected way. And on a crystal spaceship, a race of aliens search for a way to save humanity from a deadly, relentless foe...
"The Recollection" is an epic story, spanning time and space, cramming ideas into its multi-layered plot. In the hands of writers like Alastair Reynolds or Ian M Banks, it would be the opening to a five-volume epic space saga. But in Powell's hands, the story whizzes along, barely pausing for breath as it hurls the reader far into the future, and from one end of the galaxy to the other. In a way, it's almost too fast, the ideas, of the Arches, and of the mysterious Recollection itself, may have benefited from more leisurely examination, and it's to be hoped there will be spin-offs from some of the ideas not fully explored in the novel.
It's certainly an exciting major-label debut from a promising author at the start of what will hopefully be a long and fruitful career, with plenty of time to slow down and stare wide-eyed at the fascinating universe Powell has only begun to sketch here.