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on 22 April 2010
Silversands is by Gareth L Powell and it instantly piqued my interest when I heard about it earlier this year. As it's only a short novel (coming in at 160 pages) it was one that I picked up once I'd received the review copy to pass a couple of hours one afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed what I read and found that despite the small page count Gareth L Powell has delivered a great novel in a very interesting setting.

Starflight has been achieved by the use of ancient alien wormhole devices that has no way to control the destination, and human colonies are spread throughout the galaxy because of this. Avril Bradley is part of the crew of the Pathfinder, a ship sent out from Earth to find these lost human colonies. But she has an ulterior motive: she's trying to find the man she believes to be her father. As the Pathfinder arrives in the Silversands star system she discovers that this is the place she's been looking for and now has the hope of finally tracking down the man she's after, Cale Christie. When an explosion damages their ship the crew of the Pathfinder find themselves stuck while they must make repairs and it gives Avril the opportunity she needs. She finds herself in the middle of political struggles and the quest of secret factions to uncover the past while looking for the answers she wants.

The main characters of Avril and Cale are the ones that the story follows and their individual circumstances make for some very interesting situations. They're both believable and realistic and the same could be said for the supporting characters too. With subjects such as colony ships, digital personalities and political intrigue, Silversands is a satisfying and enjoyable read and Gareth L Powell makes the most of these characters and backdrop to tell a page turning story.

However, despite how much I enjoyed Silversands there were a couple of small reservations I had. The first was that while the story flies along at a good pace, it sometimes suffers for not being a little more drawn out. There are lots of things going on and a little more time spent on the story would have benefited enormously - I could easily see this being expanded to full novel length. The other aspect is to do with the way that ftl travel is done - it feels rather like Stargate to an extent. You know, ancient devices that use wormholes to travel between stars. This becomes more apparent by the conclusion, but it does not detract in anyway from the story as it's different enough to be satisfying.

Silversands is a novel I would recommend as a quick, enjoyable read and I'll be keeping my eyes out for more work by Mr Powell.
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on 19 April 2010
Fantastic book, I felt it was a mix of the best bits from Neal Asher and Alastair Reynolds. Did not quite have the really bad guys of Asher though, but more realistic and believable for that (well as realistic as space opera can get anyway :-) ). This was a real page turner, getting more exciting the further I got into the book. Anyone who likes space opera will love this.
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on 15 May 2012
I like Gareth L. Powell and I loved The Last Reef. I am also pleased to see a full length novel of Akk Akk Maqaque is in the pipeline. Silversands is a nice complete novel set in a universe where star gate use is not fully understood and ships may end up just about anywhere. A colony has developed on a chilly world and in the system around it. A ship from Earth arrives and sets off a train of events that has the planet split and up in arms. I liked the tale and the feel of the universe. The writing felt a little unpolished, as if this was an early draft. It mostly flowed OK, but sometimes I just felt there should be a little bit more than a statement of occurrences. All in all though it was an enjoyable read, and felt a little like Ken Macleods Engines of Light.
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Originally released by Pendragon Press, this short story was a book that grabbed the reader from page one as it didn't waste time on distracting the reader taking them to the heart of the matter as our heroine Avril seeks out lost human civilisations as well as searching for one man in particular Cale. It's quirky, it brings together two sides of the same coin in the characters and when you throw politics, alien technology and of course drama from the people involved, its almost a case study in writing the bones whilst allowing the reader to add the flesh.

Finally add to this solid dialogue, great pace and back it all up in a tightly written story and this 160 page book is one that can easily be enjoyed in a short time.
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on 26 September 2013
This short sci-fi story packs a lot into its pages. Gareth Powell paints a imaginative world filled with exotic sci-fi components like a colony set in a strange watery world, modified human beings, huge spaceships and small space crafts, anti-ageing treatments, nano technology and so on. A wide variety of characters becoming drawn into a race against time to solve a mystery. Won't say any more as I don't want to include any spoilers. I didn't intend to read it as quickly as I did, but about a third of the way in I became hooked and I had to finish the rest of the book in one sitting.
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on 24 May 2013
The description suggests a mildly novel idea, but almost nothing is made of it - it could have been the start of an intriguing story but the author is too busy throwing in unnecessary techno-detail in the (vain) hope of making his world seem believable. There's no subtlety to the plot and the characters, who die with distressing abruptness, left me cold.

If you like innovative quality sci-fi you'll find this thin and unappatetising.
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on 22 June 2010
Excellent first novel from acclaimed short story writer Gareth L Powell. Set in the colony planets of the far future, this is a well honed story of hazardous space travel and political intrigue among the scattered human colonists. My only complaint is that it could have been longer, a lot of ideas are crammed into a meagre amount of pages, and it would have been nice to see some of Powell's highly original ideas explored in more depth.
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on 23 April 2013
This book holds some great ideas, in particular the main theme being that humanity have discovered a set of interstellar wormholes, but have no idea how to navigate them. The basic plot is good, and moves forward at a good pace, but the problem is that it's really just a short story, or at best a novella, and as such is much too shallow, especially given the number of characters involved, meaning you never really attach to any of them.
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