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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 December 2010
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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VINE VOICEon 24 April 2008
Alastair Reynolds' 6th full-length novel is a stand-alone work detailing the fate of the crew of a comet-mining spaceship who become trapped on an alien object disguised as one of Saturn's moons.

This is a novel of big science fiction ideas, but equally Reynold's never loses site of the human element, with the narrative driven by a schism caused by the power-struggles of the two lead female characters, as two once-close friends become bitter enemies.

The first half of the novel is very reminiscent of some of the work of Arthur C Clarke, with the crew of the spaceship using their technological knowhow to explore an alien object, while the second half pushes the narrative into more exotic extremes of alien contact with the crew finding themselves trapped in a vast alien zoo.

Occasionally some of the character's actions can be a little melodramatic, but as an epic galaxy-spanning space opera 'Pushin Ice' more than delivers the goods, and it's refusal to offer any easy answers at the novels close adds to it's charm.

Perhaps not quite as original as 'Century Rain', this is nevertheless recommended for anyone who likes intelligent science fiction.
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on 7 December 2007
My problem with this book is that it leaves a /huge/ number of loose ends. About half to two-thirds of the way through, I was wondering how Reynolds was going to weave together all the different plot threads by the end, and the answer is he simply doesn't try.

I've given four stars because I did enjoy it, but it sort of screams out for another volume or two. I guess I'm rating it as part I of a trilogy; if it really is all that Reynolds intends to write about that universe, then I'd probably have to mark it down to only two.
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on 25 July 2007
I was gripped by the story, from the intriguing beginning to the profound, yet enigmatic, ending.

Mix the TV series Space 1999 with the film Outland and have it written by Carl Sagan, then you will end up with something very like Pushing Ice.

I would have liked to have given it five stars, but there is one thing I found hard to understand about the story; how is it that such a close knit team on the Rockhopper could, so quickly and viciously, fall apart?

Well I suppose the premise of the story is about faith in the people closest to you.

Some reviewers have commented on the lack of character development, or the characters are cliched. Well I think the hardest part of story-telling is getting the balance right between character and plot. Too much "getting inside all your characters' heads" and you lose focus in the story; too little, and the story becomes to cold and clinical. Mr Reynolds, in my opinion, got it about right.
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A fascinating read with a storyline expanding over a mindboggling sweep of space and time. Superb descriptions of aliens and alien artefacts and vessels, directing me but allowing for my imagination to take off its socks and run riot on the damp grass alongside the author's own.

My interpretation of this book was that it revolved around three main protagonists, and I loathed all three of them with a train-crash fascination. Had I been one of the humans locked into "Pushing Ice" along with two of the three, I would have spaced either them or myself sans spacesuit very early in the plot. Two of these three are "leaders" of the humans for long, long periods and, to my mind's eye, were painted as vacuous, vicious, vengeful and concerned more with posturing and retribution for alleged slights than with actually running the show. The third character appears only at the very beginning and end of the story and irked mightily in their supercilious assumption of wisdom, in fact appearing to me as rather thin and watery. This, I think, I hope, is exactly as intended by the author, and it kept me reading - see the earlier reference to "train-crash".

The science in this fiction is the most delicious, cold, hard type and for those of us fatally allergic to dragons and swords and the fluffy trappings of fantasy, this book was a delight. There are vast sweeps of machines and vessels and landscapes to enjoy - inbetween hating the lead protagonists.

Most splendid. My sincere thanks to my local council mobile library for having the wee beastie aboard. Oh yes - and to the author for scribbling the beast in the first place.
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on 16 May 2007
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 detail, the author zooms out to focus on the "historical record" and even misses how the crew as a whole cope with a whole new set of imperatives. So despite having a nice little mystery to solve and potential hostile races approaching I felt I never really connected with any of the main protagonists. I think perhaps the difficulty in getting the character interactions on the page is the extreme timescales that Renyolds has built into his narrative which limited the opportunity for some personal story telling.

Having said all that this is Grand space opera and really it is not the characters of the story that are important but how it makes you think about space, time, why we are here and why aliens are stopping by for tea every week.

So should you buy this book. I say, yes, you won't be wasting your money.
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on 9 March 2006
Brilliant story of the near(ish) future and working ice miners at the outer edges of the solar system having to become first contact experts and survive truly alien environments. Works a treat - with breathless action, living breathing (and arguing) central characters and many surprises as the canvass he paints on just gets bigger and bigger, until the final revelation in space... I liked this so much I lugged the hardback to and from London for a week or two to finish it. My left arm is now 2 inches longer than the right from the weight, but that's a small price to pay for such an adventure. Perfect film material too - Hollywood - are you listening? So, to summarise, if you haven't read this BUY IT RIGHT NOW!
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on 12 March 2011
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 December 2008
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 (****½) 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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on 9 October 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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