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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 12 December 2007
Fortunately, I found this book in a Barnes and Noble in Nashville, and didn't therefore have to pay the kind of price for which it sells in the UK. This is a superb collection of cutting edge science fiction - there was not a story here that I didn't enjoy. I came back to science fiction recently - after not having read any since I was teenager. Among recent sci-fi Reynolds's work stands out; he uses the genre to explore really big and important themes and ideas. This is what his work so engaging, and readable. This collection is representative, and well worth picking up.
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on 14 February 2012
Given that I am a great fan of both the short SF story format and of Alastair Reynolds, there was little chance that I would not enjoy this collection. Unlike the Galactic North anthology, this volume does not include any stories based within Reynolds' superbly visualised Revelation Space universe. Instead, we're treated to a delightful mix of stories showcasing the breadth of his imagination from near future history through deep space opera and the exploration of multiple universes to the nature of artificial intelligence. It is hard to pick a favourite from this collection, but I particularly enjoyed the mini trilogy centred on Minla's Flowers and whilst there were, to my taste, one or two slightly unexceptional stories, I thoroughly recommend this collection to Reynolds newbies and die-hard fans alike.
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on 28 June 2013
I thought this was a great book! I read some reviews about it beforehand so I was doubtful, and I find short stories are really Asimov's thing, but there are some real gems in this one. Reynolds manages to retain his epic style of writing through millions of years in most of these (most - the reason being that some don't span millions of years!). I would highly recommend it. And the blurbs that he writes after each story, sometimes explaining his inspiration, are also very interesting.
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on 20 February 2015
The author goes to all the trouble of creating a whole world and characters to populate it and then doesn't have enough time left to let them fill out and fulfil their potential
Collected short stories always make me feel this way.
Alistair Reynolds has written with his usual skill and inventiveness but I guess short stories are just not for me.
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on 21 June 2010
The real story

After the first landing on Mars, a one-way, one-man, privately run mission, alien technology was later discovered there potentially enabling travel to the stars. A reporter is on Mars after the real story of that first man on Mars and, in a bar high up a rift valley wall, she meets someone claiming to be him. She finds out more about that first mission than she expects and a neat twist propagates a pattern.

Beyond the Aqulia Rift

Thom is captain of the Blue Goose, an ordinary cargo ship that routinely uses the network of discarded alien jump gates to get around a volume of space that includes Earth. For this jump though, things go wrong for Thom in small ways and then in more significant ways. A delightfully Dickian tale of increasing estrangements...


Enola is an artificial intelligence, a powerful killing machine, and a survivor of a catastrophic global war. She keeps herself going by assimilating both machines and human memories. As she runs down, her final act bequeaths a future for the humans left alive.

Signal to noise

Curiously flat tale about love and alternate realities in an improbable near future. Mick loses his estranged wife Andrea in a road accident but, since connections with other realities are possible via a quantum device, as well as the ability to borrow bodies in those realities, he gets to reminisce with an alternate version of Andrea.

Cardiff afterlife

Using the same setting as Signal to noise, something nasty happens to Cardiff and the dark side of access to alternate realities is revealed. A weak, one-idea story, very uncharacteristic for this author.


The remnants of humanity are fleeing an implacable foe, the cyborg race the Huskers. They flee following The Way, a galactic transit device, which they lack the knowledge to use, although one man, Merlin, is trying to solve its puzzle. The discovery of Huskers up ahead necessitates a new plan. The main force will continue and try to escape, while a breakaway force will hide at a nearby system, whose sun is known as Bright Boy. Investigating a hollowed out planet and its gas giant, anomalies are found...

Minlas's flowers

This follows on from Hideway. Merlin has discovered how to use the Way. However, spaceship problems force him to land and intervene in a war between descendants of human colonists. Merlin discovers that the solar system is doomed through a future collision with the Way. Minla, who is a little girl when she first meets Merlin who give her flowers, eventually becomes leader of her people and is tasked with saving them. Not quite as exciting as usual but still has story twists.

Merlin's gun

The final story following on from Hideaway and Merlin's Gun. Merlin seems to have discovered a superweapon, built by the Way creators. He rescues Sora who teams up with him but is suspicious, as he appears not to have aged. It all leads up to a confrontation with the Huskers and lots of revelations and the usual mind-boggling technologies.

Angels of ashes

The Kiwidinok are aliens who arrived on Earth bearing the gift of a new religion, based around quantum physics, as they can perceive realities branching. On Mars, a disciple of this religion has a fateful meeting with its human founder, who has a lot to reveal about the real truth of the religion.

Spirey and the Queen

A war is being fought between two human factions in the Fomalhaut system. Spirey is crew on the Mouser, which is on a hunter-killer mission chasing a crippled enemy ship. Both sides are using semi-intelligent machines known as Wasps to help in the war, while genetic engineering has been used to modify humans: Yarrow, Mouser's pilot has a mermaid tail instead of legs. What looks like a routine mission escalates as the real war is gradually revealed. A classic.

Understanding space and time

Story moves through a number of distinct phases: the last man on Mars (and possibly anywhere, because of an out-of-control virus on Earth), seeks solace and wisdom from a hologram of an extravagantly-dressed piano-playing pop star. Then it flips into amazing speculation about the universe, and then ends up back on Mars, in the far future.

Digital to analogue

An unnamed clubber is kidnapped and examined to see if he is infected with a,new form of disease, that lives and spreads via special sounds in music.


Moira visits an old friend, Ian, fearing he has a dangerous new plan for life extension. After a risky drive on a dark, snowy night she hears out his latest idea involving quantum physics. Things work out extremely ironically.

Zima blue

A special shade of blue has gradually taken over the works produced by the artist Zima, who has moved his consciousness into an indestructible cyborg body, so he can experience lethal environments for his art. After moving up to planet-sized creations in his trademark colour, his final work is announced as involving a small swimming pool. A story about self-discovery.
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on 21 May 2014
I am a big fan of Alistair Reynolds and so, I suppose biased. I enjoy his style and his story lines and the story telling is always of a very high standard. I know other readers like to dig very deep into plots and meanings but I just enjoy a good story in this genre, so I have always been happy to read his work.
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on 13 November 2012
for short stories some of these cover a lot a thoughtful mix especially enjoyed enola reminded me of philip k dick.especially enjoyed the cardiff based signal to noise and cardiff afterlife nicely set in cardiff well sort of,nice reading
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on 21 September 2010
I don't usually go for a collection of stories but, if you are a reynolds fan as I am, you won't be disappointed.I thought he was in particular top form with:HIDEAWAY,MINLA'S FLOWERS & MERLIN'S GUN.
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on 14 August 2016
An okay read. Some very good short stories and some nice ideas. Doesn't get the full 4-5 stars treatment from me as I am a fan of the epic tale but certainly worth the buy.
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on 21 April 2016
I usually like Alastair Reynolds, but short stories are not his forte - longer novels are definitely where he excels. Some of the stories are pretty gruesome as well.
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