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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly there Alistair!
This was my first Alistair Reynolds book, but definitely not my last. I was gripped from the start by its 'film noir' style exploration of 1959 alternate history Paris. Reynold's work is easy to read without being in anyway linguistically dumbed down. The first two-thirds of the book in particular were very good and the characters believable. Without wanting to give too...
Published on 16 July 2009 by Nick Phillips

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying, but interestingly flawed
The Paris detective stuff is really not bad: believable characterisation, trademark snappy dialogue and organic plot development. Genuinely page-turning stuff.
As other reviews have noted, at the half-way point it's all change. We get into an extended hi-tech chase sequence and the plot development stalls. The editor should have been harsher here. More serious is the...
Published on 21 Feb 2005 by Nigel Seel


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly there Alistair!, 16 July 2009
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This review is from: Century Rain (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
This was my first Alistair Reynolds book, but definitely not my last. I was gripped from the start by its 'film noir' style exploration of 1959 alternate history Paris. Reynold's work is easy to read without being in anyway linguistically dumbed down. The first two-thirds of the book in particular were very good and the characters believable. Without wanting to give too much away and spoil the plot, I was pleased by the inventiveness of the book e.g. the Anomalous Large Sphere (ALS) idea and the swarms of Slasher nano-bots. I do have a few issues with this detective/space opera however. As a minor point I found some of the names a little twee. For example, the main groups of protagonists are called Threshers and Slashers, and you will come across beings known as war-babies ( sweet Lord!) Furthermore, the space chase sequences towards the end of the book ( although relatively short ) lack the excitement and pace of earlier chapters and the bag guy ( won't reveal his name ) becomes nothing more than an anonymous sensor blip. The ending nagged at me a bit too - it left a few too many plotlines hanging e.g. what happens to Custine and how does the ALS proceed through time. Also, I thought Floyd ( the main character ) behaves in the final sentence a bit uncharacteristically callous - maybe I just prefer a happy ending to a morally ambiguous one, maybe Reynolds actually got the ending spot on and I'm a bit too immature to accept it!

I was tempted to give the book a 3 ( 3.5 not possible unfortunately ), but I'm going to throw it a 4 because it's introduced me to a new author who I'm sure will not disappoint in future.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying, but interestingly flawed, 21 Feb 2005
By 
Nigel Seel (Wells, UK) - See all my reviews
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The Paris detective stuff is really not bad: believable characterisation, trademark snappy dialogue and organic plot development. Genuinely page-turning stuff.
As other reviews have noted, at the half-way point it's all change. We get into an extended hi-tech chase sequence and the plot development stalls. The editor should have been harsher here. More serious is the collapse of plot credibility. Why would the "extremist slashers" want to unleash their genocidal plan on E2? Both revenge and the quest for real-estate are equally implausible as motivations. And the ending is scrappy.
A shame really - this had potential for audience crossover, but SF folk will like it, even those who hang out at /.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting change of style for Reynolds, 23 Sep 2008
This review is from: Century Rain (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
It is the near future. The Earth has been devastated by the Nanocaust, rogue nanomachinery which has destroyed all life on Earth and plunged it into an Ice Age. Humanity is divided into two camps; The Threshers, who live in an orbital tangle of habitats around the earth called Tanglewood, and the Slashers, who change and augment their bodies with the nanomachinery which destroyed Earth.
The Slashers have delved deep into the galaxy, mainly due to their discovery of the hypernet, a network of stable wormholes left by some presumably vanished race.
Verity Auger is a Thresher archaeologist, studying the frozen ruins of Paris. When a student dies on a field trip she is given the chance to avoid a tribunal by going on a special mission. A hypernet portal has been discovered inside Phobos which leads to another Earth, an Earth where it is Nineteen Fifty-Nine and where World War II never happened, and which appears to be locked within a vast artificial sphere.
Meanwhile, on that Earth, in Paris, Floyd and Custine, two detectives-cum-jazz musicians, have been hired by a Msr Blanchard to investigate the murder of one of his tenants. Her name was Susan White and she turns out to be a Tanglewood agent who has the information that Verity was sent to collect.
It's good to see Reynolds moving away from his `Revelation Space' universe to try something new. Certainly, his descriptions of Paris in Nineteen Fifty-Nine are evocative and atmospheric and, without knowing what Paris was like in Nineteen Fifty-Nine, or indeed, in a Nineteen Fifty-Nine where the war never happened, it's hard to say how authentic it is.
Reynolds manages to do the `noir' style very well, and his wisecracking American detective, Wendell Floyd, is straight out of a Nineteen Forties movie. It's almost as if the author is lulling you into a false sense of security on this alternate Earth before bringing on the War Babies, genetically engineered troops designed to look like children and programmed to kill. The War Babies have been on E2 (as this Earth is termed) for at least twenty years and have grown old, but are still a deadly and terrifying force to contend with.
Without there having been a war (The German advance was repelled in 1940) scientific and social progress did not advance as it did. There are no rockets, atomic bombs, ballistic missiles or computers and even the musical scene is stagnant. Jazz is popular, but any `new' forms of music are discouraged by the establishment. Indeed, the Nazi ideal seems to be re-emerging in France where a political figure called `Chatelier' is on the rise while Hitler (now a feeble figure, wasted by disease) is taken out for walks through Paris by his few remaining elderly supporters.
Reynolds has not lost his touch and naughtily leaves a few questions unanswered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT READ, 21 Jan 2005
Unlike most of the reviewers on this page, I found Reynolds' new book to be quite fascinating and really an enjoyable read. The mere fact that the author is able to weave threads of mystery, horror, suspense and good old SF into a strong story line with living and breathing characters should be noted as a significant achievement.
I found that there is a tremendous amount of imaginative substance to this novel. The plotting is rather meticulous and certainly kept me hooked until the final page.
For those readers who would condemn Reynolds for not sticking to his usual style, I can only say "give the guy a break". Writers need to cut loose and experiment now and again. And there is nothing wrong with having some fun in the process.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A slight departure for the author., 9 Nov 2005
By 
Christopher Wright "chrisw75" (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Century Rain (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
This is another goog book by Mr Reynolds, but slightly different to the previous books in that it appears to be set in a different universe to those. The theme of a Nano-plague is still there though, along with massive alien artifacts of unknown origin and purpose. With its split between our world in the future and an alternative version of our world in 1956 where WW2 never happened, it throws up a few interesting twists, almost Raymond Chandler-esque on one side, and modern sci-fi on the other, with the two meeting quite satisfyingly. I was a little cautious about buying this one seeing that it was a departure from his usual run of books, but I'm glad I picked it up now.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 20 Jan 2005
By 
O Blacker (London, GB) - See all my reviews
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Initially, I was a little disappointed, when I read that Century Rain wasn't in the same reality and timeperiod as his previous works of space opéra, which I really enjoyed. Once I started settling into Century Rain, however, that disappointment completely disappeared.
The counterfactual Paris is gripping and credible (and beautifully film-noir), the human future is intriguing and similarly gripping. Reynolds seems to have taken a conscious decision to scatter throughout the book various rather cringeworthy-but-still-funny puns but, as the story progresses, the pace increases.
The ending was, as some other reviewers have commented, a little disappointing, given the rest of the book, but not greatly so and didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. This is one of the few books I have found myself still reading at 2am when I have work only a few hours later; I would (and have done) recommend it very highly.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Exciting noir sci-fi, 5 Dec 2005
This review is from: Century Rain (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
This is the first book by Alastair Reynolds I've read, but I'm half-way through Chasm City so I've got that to compare it against. Century Rain, as an earlier reviewer mentioned, does seem more upbeat, or light-hearted (perhaps), than CC - which is quite a grisly affair (but undoubtly with a lot of quality and detail).
To cut to the chase the book centres around an alternate 1959 Paris discovered at the end of an ancient wormhole/portal. There's two main chracters, Floyd - a part-time private detective and part-time musician from the alternate Earth and Auger - an archeologist studying Paris on our own Earth(now covered in ice and suffering from the remnants of a nano-technological virus) a couple of hundred years in the future. Needless to say their two worlds collide as expeditions are sent through the portal to learn about the alternate world and to find out why an agent, sent through the portal earlier, has beem mysteriously murdered. It's gripping stuff with some very good action(not just of the fire-arm kind) and not without a fair dose of classic film-noir parania thrown in too.
The quality isn't 100% though, there some bits that near the end that seemed a bit silly, Reynolds seems to "over tell" things at a few points "Floyd stood up, walked to the door and opened it, then walked down the stairs" - that's not a quote but it's the general idea. These flaws are however few and far between. I genuinly felt some of the wonder that these characters from the future must have felt as they walked the streets 200 years in the past for the first time, and there's some vivid surreal imagery on offer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars bit daft but still enjoyable, 10 Aug 2007
I enjoyed this book but do think that the Revelation Space books are far better. The plot is just a bit, well, daft. The characters are great as always and the ideas regarding nanotechnology are really interesting. So I thought it was a bit of a shame they got a bit wasted on a poorish plot. Still a fun read though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If only he had dared more, 25 April 2013
This review is from: Century Rain (Paperback)
With this book, I discovered another interesting British science fiction author, Alastair Reynolds. And what a find! He, like Hamilton, embodies my perfect author of such books as his novels fall under the space opera but rich of almost plausible technology, talk about the future of humanity, are pretty long and complex, but also really imaginative. Oh yes, because Reynolds has really a fantasy out of the ordinary. Not everyone can conceive of a story like that of "Century Rain".
I'll try to define the main points of the plot without spoiling it.
"Century Rain" is set in a future where Earth has been destroyed by nanotechnology. On scary nanotechnology I had recently read "Prey" by Crichton, however, the main theme here is something else. I do not like at all post-apocalyptic stories, but the so-called nanocaust spoken of in this book is just a detail of the plot and defines the environment in which the story moves.
Human survivors live in space stations orbiting the planet. Among them is the main female character, Verity Auger, an archaeologist expert in Paris, which is now just a ghost town. Auger is involved in a very special mission. On Phobos (one of the satellites of Mars) a wormhole was discovered that connects two distant parts of the galaxy. At the other end they found a huge sphere, inside which is a "functioning" replica of Earth, as it was in 1959. An alien species (undefined) has created many replicas of our planet, including this one that you can access. But the timeline in which these humans live in ignorance is a bit different from that of the true twentieth century.
These are the premises. The story is located somewhere between space opera, hard sci-fi, thriller, espionage and time travel, although you do not really travel in time. The way in which it is built is really intriguing, with well-defined characters. The book is very long, because so many things happen, which are difficult to predict, and this makes it very entertaining.
Yet even in this case, I stopped at four stars. The reason is simple: in the end the author, in my opinion, did not play his cards right. Being British, I would have expected something outside the box and instead Reynolds seems to have lost himself in the thick of it. Apart from the fact that the love story between the protagonists develops too abruptly and is not at all credible, perhaps because of that a bit too cold, but above all unnatural, look given to the female protagonist by the author (as it often happens when a male author moves a female protagonist), and then that story ends just as suddenly. Even if its end could be explained by a too fast start, two inconsistencies put together, however, do not generate a realistic event, but instead make things worse. For if you forgive the first one, you cannot do the same for the second one.
But the worst is right at the end. In this regard, suffice it to say that the characters, after all they've been through, find themselves exactly to the starting point. She seems to have learned nothing. He grew up, instead, but in fact he finds himself again in the condition in which he "lived" at the beginning of the story. Despite the beautiful prose and the poetic image of the last scene, I was disappointed. An author of this kind, capable of conceiving a story like that, should be more daring.
As a justification for the author I must, however, say that the ending is left quite open, allowing readers to imagine how it could continue, perhaps with a better ending.
Despite all this, then, I highly recommend reading this book to science fiction lovers who at the same time do not disdain some vintage vibe.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Concepts, 17 May 2012
By 
J. Adams (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Century Rain (Paperback)
Don't want to spoil it for anyone, so I'll try not to give details.

Alastair Reynolds is one of my favourite authors and I've read almost everything he's written.

The story starts well, the characters have real persona's, you get a real feel for the alternate earth story and the danger of the something else ... but the 2 main characters meet up too early, and somehow take on an enemy that kills much better prepared people, with barely a scratch at the end (i.e. magic healing), and the ending seems weak.

Don't get me wrong I enjoyed it, I just feel his other works are so much better.
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Century Rain (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
Century Rain (GOLLANCZ S.F.) by Alastair Reynolds (Paperback - 3 Oct 2005)
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