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Chasm City (Revelation Space) Mass Market Paperback – May 27, 2003
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Winner of The British Science Fiction Association’s Award for Best Novel of the Year
One of Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle’s “Best SF Novels of the Year”
“Deep, complex and always more than [it] seems. Reynolds succeeds in the hardest task of good science fiction, creating a new world full of wonder.”—The Denver Post
“A tightly written story that spirals inevitably inwards toward its powerful conclusion. [Chasm City] confirms Reynolds as the most exciting space opera writer working today.”—Locus
“The best thing that Reynolds has ever done...in the end, it’s a joy.”—John Clute, author of Appleseed, coeditor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
“A worth follow-up to Revelation Space. Reynolds transmutes space opera into a nourish, baroque, picaresque mystery tale. Inventiveness and tone are Reynolds’ strong points...the novel’s details are consistently startling but convincing in context. Reynolds remains one of the hottest new SF writers around.”—Publishers Weekly
“Successfully combines SF noir with technothriller in a dark vision of the future.”—Library Journal
“An impressive book. Another step toward what could become a very significant 21st century hard SF career.”—SF Site
About the Author
- Publisher : Ace (May 27, 2003)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 704 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0441010644
- ISBN-13 : 978-0441010646
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.2 x 1.6 x 6.7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,042,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds is a science fiction novel and is also known as book 2 in the 5 book (so far) "Revelation Space" series published during 2000-2007. Curious readers may ask can this novel be read without reading the prior book "Revelation Space". In truth yes it can but your enjoyment and the comprehension of story events would be greatly enhanced if you had read "Revelation Space". Fortunately there is an authors introduction to this book that may or may not help new readers.
In this long novel, my paperback was 694 pages with a small font, one Tanner Mirabel - a solider-of-fortune - persists against overwhelming odds to hunts down an individual, Argent Reivich, that killed his friends. In my opinion the plot is almost immaterial to the author's elaborate descriptions of Chasm City, it residences and the circumstances of it's creation and de-evolution. Another sub-plot that I found most interesting is the story of Sky Haussmann founder of his Tanner Mirabel's home world, Sky's Edge. Tanner experiences Haussmann story through virus-induced flashbacks.
This is an elaborate and detailed science-fiction story that kept me up many evenings. Alastair Reynolds crams an encyclopedia of background in this novel that induced this reader to read book 3 "Redemption Ark". I am not exaggerating when I use the term encyclopedia. The Wikipedia has numerous pages on the characters, factors and locations of Revelation Space. Readers are strongly encouraged to check out the information - I was impressed, indeed.
Mr. Reynolds, with his Ph.D. in astronomy is a master at technological extrapolation. Therefore this story exhibits many "hard" aspects of hardware type science-fiction that will cause long time fans weep with joy and others to whimper with annoyance.
To summarize this novel; a try hard nerdy noir thriller with characters about as inspiring as a piece of lint.
When Tanner wakes up on Yellowstone, he's lost most of his memory, a result of years of refrigerated sleep in transit. But as he follows his target through chaotic post-Plague Yellowstone, being hunted himself in a local "game", he not only causes problems for the local power structure but becomes less and less sure he actually is who his records say he is. Not only, thanks to an implanted virus, is he experiencing memories as if he were Sky Haussman, original commander of the settlement on Sky's Edge, but he has memories that Tanner Mirabel can't actually have had. When it all comes together - or falls apart - it's in a climactic confrontation with the man he thinks he came to kill in the first place, and the man who might or might not be himself.
Displacement and isolation- both Tanner's and Sky Haussman's- is a theme Reynolds explored in "Revelation Space," but he adds to it here the question of identity- to what extent are we the people we present to others as opposed to what we actually think and do, and how capable are we of becoming someone else by an act of will? These are not new questions, especially with respect to the soldier looking to escape his past- there is a throwaway quip about "making furniture out of their bones" that will get a chuckle of recognition out of Iain M. Banks fans - but they're well-done and multi-layered here.
So why only four stars and not five? In large part because there's a lot, but not a lot new, happening here. Space opera; identity theft; lone gunman; manhunt as game; revenge mission; anti-technology virus. Perhaps it's the fact that all of these show up in one not-particularly-long book that gives 'Chasm City' the sense of being slightly wandering and unfocused. By the end of the book, we're not so much surprised as relieved that any given plot point has been resolved, and in the end that weakens what could have been a much stronger story.
This book reads as a noir spy-thriller. Some pretty good twists and story arcs. Tons of action and suspense. If you like hard sci fi with a popcorn twist read this book!
Top reviews from other countries
In my continuing mission to explore modern science fiction writing, I am happily marooned on planet Reynolds, enraptured by the ever evolving siren song of the Revelation Space universe. A little overly florid, perhaps, but there are now two kings of modern, proper science fiction; Reynolds and Banks - always two there are and the formerly unchallenged master, now seemingly resting on his laurels, had better keep an eye on the apprentice.
Chasm City was a much different reading experience to Revelation Space as the story is mainly told from a first person perspective. But as the main character was the focus it works really well.
Through first-person narrative we follow soldier-turned-mercenary-turned-bodyguard Tanner Mirabel, as he resolutely stalks a man named Reivich across the galaxy. We only get hints as to why at first, with the background of this unstoppable vendetta slowly being revealed. Mirabel's mission is complicated by his being infected with a religious virus that makes him experience memories from the life of despised martyr Sky Hauptmann, a mysterious figure that died many years before.
If that sounds complicated, I haven't even scratched the surface of the story. Mirabel's quest eventually takes him to the metropolis of the title, a location that will be familiar to readers of the first book. Surrounded by an array of exotic characters, all of them seemingly determined to kill him or aid him (or both), and caught up against his will in a story centuries in the making, Mirabel has to fight, bluff, and threaten his way through the murk his life has become.
It is to Reynolds' credit that Tanner remains a somewhat sympathetic protagonist even as we find out more about the darker portions of his life. If you're a longterm reader of science fiction, particularly the works of Philip K. Dick, you have a good chance of working out one of the majot twists before it is revealed. However, there are SO many more unexpected developments in this convoluted tale of revenge and redemption, you will be entertained to the end.