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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but a very good read
Pushing Ice isn't perfect, but it doesn't deserve some of the very negative reviews it has received (one talks about FTL travel which doesn't appear anywhere in the novel other than as speculation during conversation - so they haven't read it that carefully).
This is a novel of big ideas occurring over cosmic timescales. For me it successfully...
Published on 3 Jan 2006 by Dave Box

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You get what you look for
I think this is a book of two halves. The first promises to build and explore relationships between characters. The second spends a lot of time exploring a new and alien environment. Sadly this is perhaps why the book doesn't work as a whole, although it is still worth a read.

Where the character relationships in a new environment might have been explored in...
Published on 16 May 2007 by Craig


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 16 Dec 2008
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
2057. In the depths of the Solar system, large spacecraft routinely intercept and redirect ice asteroids and comets into Earth orbit, where their raw materials can be used to fuel Earth's growing economy and incessant need for raw materials. When Saturn's moon Janus inexplicably leaves its orbit and heads out of the Solar system in the direction of the star Spica, an 'ice-pusher' ship named Rockhopper is the only vessel positioned to intercept it. The plan is for the ship to tail the anomaly for a week before returning to Earth. Naturally, complications ensue and the crew of Rockhopper are forced to make a home on Janus as it accelerates towards lightspeed, which will carry them to Spica in 250 years, although thanks to time dilation only a dozen years will pass for those on board.

Pushing Ice is a hard SF novel in the 'Big Dumb Object' tradition, following in the footsteps of Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, Larry Niven's Ringworld and Greg Bear's Eon. However, unlike a lot of BDO books which tend to put characterisation way behind spectacle and awe, Pushing Ice is centred firmly on the relationship between two female crewmembers of the Rockhopper, Captain Bella Lind and navigator Svetlana Barseghian, two firm friends who suffer a catastrophic falling-out over the Rockhopper's new mission and whose subsequent relations colour much of the novel. This gives the book an emotional centre which helps make it easier to relate to the more traditional, awe-inspiring spectacle stuff that unfolds later on.

Whilst unrelated to any of his other novels, Pushing Ice features Reynolds' trademark use of non-faster-than-light travel and the inevitable closer interrelationship between humanity and its machines, although broadly along more positive lines than his Revelation Space novels. Pushing Ice is also more relatable, as its technology is less exotic and much closer to current day levels, meaning his characters have to work even harder to survive in the hostile environments they find themselves in.

Pushing Ice becomes a multi-generational tale as life on Janus during and after is voyage unfolds and Reynolds' story reaches impressive new levels of invention as we discover more about the alien Spicans and their goals. There is a strong similarity here to Clarke's Rama Cycle, but he makes more interesting and focused points in considerably less time and pages than Clarke's earlier work, and the characters he uses to achieve that goal are considerably more interesting.

Pushing Ice (****) doesn't quite hit the same high as Reynolds' masterwork Chasm City, but it comes damn close. As a hard SF novel in the Big Dumb Object tradition, Pushing Ice is a triumph, but achieves its success with more emotion and heart than most such books. This novel is thoroughly recommended and is available from Gollancz in the UK and from Ace in the USA.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An anomalous moon and sanctimonious women, 11 Oct 2011
By 
M-I-K-E 2theD "2theD" (The Big Mango, Thailand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pushing Ice (Paperback)
Pushing Ice being my 9th Alastair Reynolds novel (excluding the already read Zima Blue and Galactic North story collections), you could say I'm kind of experienced when it comes to the realm of the science fiction of Reynolds, and of modern space opera at that.

The start is a little confusing with a profusion of job oriented individuals aboard a mining ship. This is quickly dispensed with as the plot builds. With the sudden announcement that their mission will be refocused to intercept a self-powered moon of Saturn, the crew becomes split whether to head into deep space after the anomalous craft or to stay put closer to earth. As the time elapses during their solar system traversing, it becomes abundantly clear to engineer Svetlana that the fuel situation isn't as it should be. This is the major crux of the novel when Svetlana feels belittled by her knowledge even with years of experience, feels betrayed by her captain and friend and future arch enemy Bella, and feels victimized and persecuted by her own company. Her victimization and intuition play an important role in her stance among the sympathetic crew. This is only within the first third on the novel, too!

The next third of Pushing Ice reads much like Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars where the colonists (unwilling colonists on the once-moon Janus) form a government, trek across a barren and mysterious landscape and deal with unending problem of a social being also being opinionated and fractional at the same time. Growing pains are felt, sentences are dealt and egos take a pelt.

The remaining third reads much like Charles Stross' Accelerando, where the characters are subject to rapid changes in technological advancement towards the singularity. In Accelerando, this scientific singularity approaches rapidly when the cast are hammering out new thingamajigs every other page as they explore their every changing social standing. In Pushing Ice, this singularity is being limited by the aliens which have benevolently coddling them along in the years. We see the colony grow, the hate come to a slow and the possibilities glow.

The only hitch holding back this niche of humanity is the witch-with-a-b cat fighting. Svetlana is a conniving demon breed of women who spits fire and never forgets past transgressions. Bella, on the other hand, has a mild temper, has the patience of a saint even while in exile and is able to forgive her captors. The reoccurring flares of Svetlana's hatred towards Bella and her distrust of any second-hand information is a serious annoyance, enough to drop the entire novel from a 4.5 star rating to a 3.5 star rating. You'll just want to yell at the book, "Get it over it woman! Jesus!"

Reynolds pens a pretty good novel here. A great addition is added to the novel, that addition which we see in the opening: a future human civilization wants to pay tribute to Bella's great deed 18,000 years ago and does so by an unmentioned means. The means brings about a much greeted addition to the last third. The dialogue isn't nearly as dry as the Revelation Space series and it isn't as spastic or chronologically chaotic like Century Rain. It's a pretty easy read considering its nearly 600 pages. Some of it is a tad predictable but not in an overencompassing manner. I would have liked to have seen Janus better explored, the aliens better explored and the Object better explored. Having said this, the exploration of what Reynolds created wasn't satisfactory to me but left me with enough awe to be content with.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a Revelation, but a fine story nonetheless., 15 Dec 2010
By 
Willy Eckerslike (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pushing Ice (Paperback)
Like `House of Suns', this book is not set in the immersive universe of the Revelation series. With the initial claustrophobic ship based chapters, Reynolds has recaptured some of the ground left vacant since the 70's by Pohl and Clarke with the hard science fiction simply providing a backdrop for the interpersonal politics arising from a normal crew being plunged into exceptional circumstances. The story gradually expands to encompass the exploration & colonisation of Janus (very reminiscent of Clarke's Rama) and the impact of its arrival at `the structure', but the relationship between the crew members is always the primary element.

As with all of the other Reynolds I've read, the story rocks along at a cracking pace and its linear narrative makes for a far easier read than the Revelation stories but, as such, it does seem to lack a certain depth. However, the basic premise is highly original, the visualisation is superb, the storyline is gripping and there are plenty of unexpected twists. There can be no doubting the craftsmanship of the novel but I did find some of Svetlana's actions disproportionate and extreme and this, for me, slightly spoilt the plausibility of the tale. These comments notwithstanding, I still really enjoyed this book, not least for its classic sci-fi atmosphere and Reynolds' trademark taut and engrossing storytelling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good enjoyable read, but like The Prefect, needs a sequel., 3 Nov 2009
By 
This review is from: Pushing Ice (Paperback)
Oooh! Didn't you just want to bang old Lind and Barseghian's heads together????

What a pair of idiots eh!

And here lies the focal point of a lot of the criticism levelled at this book. Poor, weak characterisation of the main protagonists - and I agree, both do come across as a bit moronic and definitely not leader material.

Ritually I always read Amazon reviews after I've finished a book, never before, (I highly recommend this practice) and judging by a lot of the reviews here, these two 'weak' characters seem to have really got up the noses of a lot of readers.... but help is at hand, come and visit where I work and I can point out a dozen useless, limp, argumentative, not fit for purpose, petty people all in various positions of power. So it can happen, why should all leaders be correct decision making, mighty, strong armed heroes?

I liked this book for this exact reason, I loved the fact that I found myself uttering under my breath 'you idiots!' and 'why on earth are you acting like that?' and my personal favourite, which I murmured rather a lot 'you stupid dunderheads!'

Yes this may not be Reynolds best, but I found myself swept along with the grand ideas that the novel presents, it gave glimpses of vast intelligences and left me with an overarching feeling of insignificance.

I was disappointed to finish the book with so many questions unanswered, but my imagination is doing its best to plug the gaps - and that, in my opinion, is the sign of a good novel.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review, 24 Jun 2006
By 
A. J. Cull (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I found Pushing Ice an excellent tale, and further proof that for Alastair Reynolds there is definitely life after his Inhibitor novels. The crew of mining spacecraft Rockhopper find themselves embarking on an unexpected voyage of discovery, after Saturn's tiny moon Janus starts to behave very oddly. This has similarities with Clarke classic Rendezvous with Rama, with added corporate politics and interpersonal friction. Some characters remain relatively undeveloped, but most are convincing, as is the future technology, which is impressive but never infallible. Credible aliens and gigantic space structures help this novel to evoke a fine, old-fashioned sense of wonder.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic SF, 7 Mar 2006
"Proper" Science Fiction. Good story, compulsive to the end. If you have read other Reynolds you will like this book, if not (& you like hard SF) then congratulations - you have found a new author!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, but still a good read., 12 Mar 2011
This review is from: Pushing Ice (Paperback)
This is the fourth Alastair Reynolds book that I have read. I havent read many Sci Fi books but I am a avid reader. Pushing Ice isnt Reynolds best work, I think it is fair to say, but it is a good book to read nonetheless. At times I felt like the story to lacking something and was dragging at times. 516 pages is a push for this story and that is what sums up the major problem of this book. There some amazing ideas in here which is what makes me love Reynolds so much as an author. But the characters and how the events unfold is something else. There have been claims that the main characters are cardboard cut outs, which is something that I dont entirely agree on. Its just some characters were not mentioned enough, or had any background for me to care about them. Which is why some of the events in the book didnt have any impact on for me to care. The murder enquiry (case in point) could have been left out completely, which means less pages.

In short some events and characters could have been left out which would have made the book a bit shorter. Which would have been preferred. But the protagonist's, the major of storyline developments and the big Sci Fi ideas are enough to make this a good read that is recommended to anyone that is a fan of Reynolds and is familiar with his work. Otherwise read a Revelation Space novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing mis-step from the hard Space Opera master, 9 Oct 2009
Pushing Ice starts well, if somewhat conventionally, with the reassignment of a near space comet mining crew to investigate an anomolous activity. The science and the sense of wonder are as strong as ever and Reynolds does well to bring the strange events and scenarios to life particularly in the latter part of the story .

It's unfortunate then that he populated it with characters that all too often don't ring true.
There are a number of places where the Reynolds moves the story along by suddenly having a character do something inexplicable or unreasonable - the worst sort of TV movie nonsense. Which is a pity because Reynolds is a good enough author to have created the necessary tensions without these blunders.

That said it is not without merit and the final reveal of the mystery is reasonably satisfying (though we are left dangling a bit!)

So, if you are a seasoned Reynold's reader I'd only recommed this with caution.

If you haven't read him before I'd say start elsewhere - with one of the excellent The Prefect or Chasm City or with either his collected novellas (Diamond Dogs) or short story collection (Galactic North).
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but slightly annoying, 17 Mar 2006
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Overall I liked this book right up until the end which I found disappointing. Excellent hard sci fi and believable characters. The whole “alien artefact” concept is not exactly new but the book was well written and engaging. Alistair Reynolds gives the characters a little bit of control over the situation that they’re flung into (unlike a typical Steven Baxter novel). Their decisions (while sometimes deeply flawed) make the story more believable.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable Characters, 18 Nov 2006
By 
C. Jack "colinjack" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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First off there is a lot to like about the book not least the story itself which is hugely engaging. However some of the characters, even key characters, lacked real depth or were so badly built up that it detracted from the story and made it a very frustrating read.
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