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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Chasm City
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 6 June 2017
I discovered Alistair Reynolds fairly recently as I begun to switch my literary interests from fantasy to sci-fi. After reading some of his great short stories (from Galactic North and Diamond Dogs/Turquoise Days) I was really excited about finally going into his magnum opus, the famed Revelation Space series. I even searched the web for the "correct" reading order which advised to start with this book. And boy, I hope it means they get better in this order. The first half of the book is just a set up which, while later proves to be necessary, feels more like a chore to read through. It does contain interesting information about the background but makes you wait for the actual story with dwindling anticipation. Furtunately afterwards it gets really good...for a while. As things start happening and pieces click into places you get excited about the next story twist and for the most part Reynolds delivers but right at the end he seems to have lost track or interest or run out of ideas as he brings everything to a stop with a rather silly deus-ex-machina resolution befitting a teenager rather than a serious author that I have no doubt he is. A younger reader might be satisfied with this but as someone with a bit more years behind me and now deeply immersed in hard sci-fi I can't help but feel disappointed in the overall result. Maybe he got the silliness out of his system with this one and the next book is better. I'm about to find out.
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on 18 August 2011
A deep well of masterful genius!

Imagination is stretched to the limit and beyond in this novel - to places I thought it impossible for a mind to conceiveably go and return intact.

I read this book after reading others in the series: Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap, Revelation Space (I know, start at the beginning and finish at the end - but I like to do things the hard way!), and I wanted to find out where it all started.

Although it was the first book in the series (I think), it loses none of its impact reading it out of order. The novel hits the ground running and continues at blistering pace, taking the reader across time and space, pushing the boundaries of ingenuity and illusion.

From the outset the hero struggles with his moralistic status, swinging constantly into anti-hero mode, and we never really know if we should love or hate him. Who is he really? He loses and gains friends constantly, and they in turn are discredited or killed as he thunders forward on a seemingly suicidal quest.

The novel on its way describes strange and wonderful machines and concepts which make some kind of sense, and one day may even be practical as our own world fills to bursting point. Like all good Science Fiction, it keeps its deepest roots subtly in the present and has lessons for us all.

A thoroughly rivetting read.

Author of The W.D.P.S.
The W.D.P.S - Book One
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on 11 March 2017
Writing a bit clunky at times, but the pace and the narrative really carries you along and ends with a bit of mind mangling plot flip-flopping that keeps you taking for hour after.
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on 26 July 2017
This is different to the first book. Much better paced. Two cleverly interlinked narratives. Very imaginative and gripping.
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on 13 September 2017
This was my first Alastair Reynolds book. Why did I pick this one? Well, it was there on a second-hand table :)

It's not hard sci-fi. It's essentially a chase-slash-identity thriller in futuristic settings. A few elements of sci-fi are important to the plot, but essentially a similar story could be told in most time periods. So if you like your sci-fi hard then this probably isn't for you.

The story revolves around Tanner Mirabel, a hired "thug" (for want of a better word) out to avenge the death of his boss and the bosses wife. He tracks Reivich - the culprit - across space, and in doing so has to go into deep sleep for 15 years to reach his destination. When he wakes, he has little memory of who he is or what he is doing there. He also discovers he has a virus that causes him to hallucinate visions of a historical mass exodus across space - the very one that brought humans to his homeworld of Sky's Edge.

From there on, It's about Tanner fighting to survive in the new environment and his hunt for the killer, though as the story progresses we come to see that everything may not be quite as clear cut as we thought.

I shan't say more as I don't want to include spoilers, but this was an enjoyable read. It was perhaps a little overly long for what it was - I think perhaps 400 pages rather than 600 would have sufficed to tell the same story. It's probably ideal fodder for a blockbuster film.
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on 16 October 2003
Chasm City is the follow up to Alistar Reynolds first book Revelation Space. The book's opening pages are satisfyingly dark and tense, but unfortunately the author fails to capitalise on this and the story ends up being far lighter than the intial pages would implie.

The Canopy dwellers also seem very reminiscent of the Culture and other similarities exist between Reynolds and Ian Banks writing, but there is enough original content there to satisfy those looking for a new experience especially for those that enjoy hard science SF. That said this book is far lighter on the hard science than Revelation Space.

For those that have read his first book Chasm City returns to Yellowstone and Sky's Edge; concentrating its story around the melding plague, and revealing far more history than previously supplied. In doing so Reynolds successfully adds depth to his universe. A nice touch is that the first two books can be read in any order both giving hints at what's in the other. It also retains the same outrageously slippery plot which truly has you guessing right to the end as the original.

This is a exceedingly well written book and even with it's hard science, as a relative new comer to the genre I found it easy and compulsive reading. Well worth checking out.
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on 17 September 2001
This book suffers from verbosity, not so much the descriptive prose but from the mouths of characters who all seem to have an unlimited intelligence and massive vocabulary. It acts like a barrier to any empathy a reader may have with say Tanner Mirabel. Despite everything that happens to him he seems to change very little, and after reading the ending I didn't get the point of the revelation of who he really is/was. Interestingly enough the passages from Sky Hausmann's story and Tanner's past are much more interesting and seductive than what happens to Tanner in Chasm City and I wonder if that is what ultimately stops the book from being a classic. It has to end in the present and that just hasn't been anything more than a rudimetary adventure compared to the tales from the past. The 'fight' at the end is deeply, deeply unsatisfying, how many times have we seen this, and why when everything else is spectacular is this so brief and unimaginative? The 'bite' at the end is ridiculous.
This is almost a Dan Simmons novel and it borrows a fair few ideas from him, but it doesn't quite do it. Not for me anyway.
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on 23 July 2001
The adventures of tougher-than-nails quick-witted gun-for-hire Tanner Mirabel set against the technological and biological wonders of interstellar space of the distant 25th century are truly original and amazing. Him being driven by revenge against a certain Argent Reivich, the book is actually an account of his travels from his planet Sky's Edge to Chasm City, accompanied by lots of fighting, shooting, chasing, saving and double-crossing; chapter by chapter discovering the motifs behind his own actions, layers of memories (true and fake) to be peeled off before he finally realizes who he was. But it takes more to discover who he is now. Tanner also seems to be infected by neural virus, invented by religious fanatics, reproducing in his mind the unofficial version of deeds of long time ago executed hero and despot Sky Hausmann, who brought the humankind to inhabit that part of the galaxy. The two stories develop in parallels, to be fused in the climax in the end. Honor to the author, no plotlines are left hanging in the air as the book nears it finale, neatly tugged in as the tales spins on. Although numerous descriptions of technical appliances I found a little difficult to understand, and Tanner's character indeed verged to turn into obnoxious superman at times, the book will definitely keep you guessing till the very last chapter. Definitely inventive and highly entertaining, this sci-fi thriller is a deep preview into the future of human race, with all tricks we can already predict now: perspective of limited immortality, scanning of personal experiences into computers, minuscule and gigantic machines permeating every sphere of live and bearing the seeds of mortal dangers, swapping of memories and erased personalities, brain implants, body sculpture etc feeding the hungry reader with nightmarish visions.
However, I 'd still take one star down for a too false Hollywood-ish trick the author produces in the very last chapter to deal with Tanner and his likely antagonist. I'd also like to note that although the main characters (Tanner, his former boss Cahuella, the infamous Sky Hausmann) are well drawn and motivated, it's very hard to root for any of them: the true representatives of dehumanized technical society, don't look for a hero to follow in this book. If it's not a moralizing tale you're after, otherwise a very good book.
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on 7 August 2001
Alastair Reynolds has written another fantastic novel in "Chasm City" - it's just like "Revelation Space," except better, its hard-edged science fiction with great characters, we get the vastness of space, inner and outer. Alastair Reynolds is indeed a brilliant writer. I found it gripping, very clever, with wonderful descriptions that create a strong visual dimension as you read the story. Alastair's imagination really stretches you.
Every time I thought the story had crested, some new twist and turn kept occurring. Throughout this 524-page novel, the various story lines kept coming together, there was obviously so much more of the plot to unravel. Two-thirds into the story and I just couldn't put the book down. I just stayed up till 2 a.m. to finish "Chasm City," eagerly turning each page, drawn to each word like a caterpillar crossing a blade of grass, to see what new part of the story would be revealed.
I can't sleep as I'm still reeling from this magnificent book. Wow, what a feeling! Even after having read Alastair's first debut novel "Revelation Space," I was completely unprepared for the many wonders within "Chasm City." Parts of this novel reminded me of "The Fountains of Paradise" by Arthur C. Clarke, "Perdido Street Station" by China Mieville and "Metal Fatigue" by Sean Williams.
Tanner Mirabel was a security specialist who never made a mistake......until the day a women in his care was blown away during an attack by a vengeful young postmortal named Argent Reivich.
Tanner's pursuit of Reivich takes him away from his homeworld, across light-years of space, to Chasm City, the domed human settlement on the otherwise inhospitable planet Yellowstone. But Chasm City isn't what it used to be: the one-time high-tech utopia has become a dark, Gothic nightmare, victim of a nanotechnological virus, which has corrupted the city's inhabitants as thoroughly as it has, has the buildings. Now the city is a place of steam-driven machines, shadowy factions and deadly new games.
With only his wits to help him - not to mention the odd piece of heavy firepower - Tanner narrows the distance between himself and Reivich.
But before the chase is done, Tanner will have to confront disturbing truths, which reach back centuries, towards deep space, and an atrocity history barely remembers.
I rate this book highly, and recommend it to all science fiction fans. I cannot remember how long it has been since I discovered a new voice such as Alastair, a new writer whose vision is not only new but also exciting. Alastair Reynolds is one such writer. Beg, borrow or steal it; but read Chasm City!
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on 29 March 2005
I read this straight after reading Revelation Space and whilst it's not essential to have read Rev.Space first I think it helped me to get into the story as both books are set in the same "universe".
There are plenty of twists and turns and the writing style (some in 1st person, the rest in the 3rd person) is refreshing.
An excellent read.
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