8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Short but sweet,
This review is from: Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days: Tales from the Revelation Space Universe (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
This book collects two novellas that were previously published separately as limited editions, both set in the same universe as Reynold’s ‘Revelation Space’ series of novels.
Opening story Diamond Dogs deals with an expedition to uncover the secret at the heart of Blood Spire, a mysterious alien artefact that has killed all who have previously attempted the challenge. In effect this appears to be a very straight-forward puzzle story, as the expedition enters a room, solves a puzzle, and proceeds to the next room where another puzzle awaits, not dissimilar to an old style computer or roleplaying game, or as Reynolds all but namechecks in the text, the puzzle solving aspect of such films as The Cube and the Indiana Jones movies. Despite a vivid cast of characters (including a cyberneticist obsessed with replacing body parts, and an ex-couple where memory suppression has dimmed one’s recollection of the other) it’s a case of so far, so basic. Reynolds masterstroke however is to change the emphasis – the actual puzzles are not the focus (they rapidly move into realms of such advanced mathematical complexity that Reynolds only skims over the details), even what lies at the heart of the artefact is not the focus, instead it is the competitive spirit of the characters, and the lengths to which they will go to – even eventually shedding their own humanity behind them – in their quest to beat the puzzle. It’s the players, not the game, that’s are the stars here, and Diamond Dogs is a fantastic exploration of obsession as a result.
The second novella, Turquoise Days, deals with a scientist studying a world inhabited by Pattern Jugglers – alien biomass forms that float on the planet’s oceans and absorb the thoughts of those who swim in them – and the calamitous results of the arrival of a group of offworlders. Perhaps not quite as gripping as Diamond Dogs, this s nevertheless an interesting examination of an alien culture, and the hidden motives of the off-worlders provide an action-packed finale.
All in all, both these novellas are good solid batches of science fiction, and recommended for either established Reynolds readers or newcomers (these stories are only tangentially linked to Reynolds full-length novels, and are perfectly self-contained as a result). Reynolds can occasionally suffer from pacing problems with his bloated doorstopper-sized novels, but what these novellas lose in ‘epic’ feel they more than make up for in good pacy storytelling. Good stuff.