Top critical review
Not as good as his short stories
on 13 May 2018
Reynolds's true writing skill lies in his shorter fiction, of which a number of anthologies are available. Disappointingly, this novel doesn't make the grade for me, its cast of characters are off-the-shelf retreads, its adventure situations are cliches dressed as diamonds, and the only "science" available (that which officially makes it science fiction, as opposed to just fiction set in the future) comes as background information to the various settings he uses in his "future history". This is little more than an adventure story. His writing style tends towards a generic style much-used by long-winded novelists these days, plain and simple, easy to absorb, with only the occasional twist of dialogue or turn of phrase that imparts some individuality. Understandable, since reading a 600 page novel is an investment of time, and you don't want to be put off by a dazzlingly inaccessible writing style -- and the same goes for writing it in the first place, too.
If its just a futuristic adventure yarn you want, complete with ramjets and robots and heavy artillery and wheeler-dealing bad guys, this is for you. If you prefer your science fiction to be fiction about science, maybe just stick with his short stories.