Most helpful positive review
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Magnificent debut novel
on 7 August 2001
I'd heard this debut novel was similar to both Iain Banks' and Dan Simmons' universes, and I was pleased to note that this was true - though only on a surface level. There's a very strong sense that the author sees the novel form as a vehicle for exploring science fact. It isn't hard to accept that this man is a hard scientist in his actual life, and even easier to accept that he's a passionate man in his imagined one. I don't think I have ever read science fiction that marries 'hard' sci-fi with a convincing narrative quite so assuredly. I was initially gripped by the solidity of his universe, but as the manifold plot lines began to unfold that all seemed to take a background role to the lives and motivations of his characters. I was never less than completely engrossed, and I put this down to Reynolds' keen eye for what is actually interesting in the sci-fi form. The primary 'revelation' for this reader was Reynolds' ability to create a dystopian future that is, intrinsically new. From Lighthugger ships and their nauseatingly intimidating weapons, through to the stupendous alien artefact we come to see a central to the story, there is always an underlying sense of purpose and symmetry. If you've read Banks, Simmons, Hamilton or even Sagan (and were impressed) then buy this book. It is that rare thing: an original science fiction universe; one you recognise but have never visited. Hard science fiction for non-'hard' sci-fi fans.