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Pushing Ice Hardcover – May, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
As this spectacular, large-scale space opera opens, Janus, a moon of Saturn, now revealed as an alien artifact, has suddenly left orbit and headed for interstellar space. The Rockhopper, a comet miner commanded by Capt. Bella Lind, is the only spacecraft in the solar system positioned to catch the huge alien machine. Though a short exploration is all that's planned, the Rockhopper soon finds itself trapped in Janus's time- and distance-distorting slipstream. Determining that Janus is heading toward an even more gigantic artifact orbiting the star Spica, the comet miners settle down to form their own castaway civilization, a process marred by the bad blood between those who support Captain Lind and those who blame her for their fate. Janus soon proves itself to be an incredibly strange and ever changing environment. Eventually, the castaways reach the Spica artifact, encounter several very alien species and discover that their fate is even stranger than they could have imagined. Reynolds (Century Rain) is occasionally clumsy in his character interactions, but he has a genius for big-concept SF and fans of Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama and Larry Niven's Ringworld will love this novel.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Alastair Reynolds, an astrophysicist and the author of six previous novels, including the critically acclaimed Revelation Space series (beginning with the title novel in 2000), has established a reputation as the purveyor of big ideas in science fiction, particularly in the space-opera genre. Critics admire the author for his storytelling abilities and his grasp of hard science fiction, as well as for his willingness to explore issues that, in the hands of a less confident writer, might fall flat. By bringing developed characters and clearly articulated scenarios to the page, Reynolds has cultivated a growing audience of devoted readers. So he's not yet Arthur C. Clarke. Who is?
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top customer reviews
As for the story and the underlying science, both take the reader to shockingly unexpected places, and, as always, Reynolds's science is both hard science and uncompromisingly hard simultaneously. Me, myself, I prefer my physics to have more "wiggle room" than the unapologetically Relativity-governed universes in which his tales play out. Frankly, from nearly anyone besides Reynolds, I find such Relativity -constrained tales claustrophobic at best and boringly banal at worst...except when its Reynolds. In his hands, the Laws of Physics that we appear to have been immutably, inescapably dealt nonetheless suggests (with all the plausibility I require) the possibility of a future for Humanity out in the stars that can be a grand adventure for us all.
It is the rare hard science writer that offers a milieu in which satisfying space opera is a plausible future. I can't think of mor than a handful of writers who have pulled it off, and none of them close to the equal of Reynolds.
Pushing Ice is not his best, most polished work - a premonitory sense that I've had about it for years, which is probably why I had put off reading it until there was nothing else left of him to read (to date), but., though my premonition was correct, it was overly harsh. There is much too much on offer in Pushing Ice to let it go unread. Yes, by his standards, it's got a flew flaws. By the standards of all but his very few fellows at the top of the contemporary Sci-Fi pyramid, it's that rare book rigidly bound by the Laws of Science that still abounds in magical adventure.
Pushing Ice is the first Alastair Reynolds book I had the pleasure to read, and as such I didn't know exactly what to expect when I started it. What I found was a pleasent surprise - a highly intelligent story busting with mind blowing ideas, page-turner mysteries and astonishingly accurate technological descriptions.
The scope of the story is huge. The story is essentially divided into three parts, and each of them feels very different from the other two, while still managing to feel like part of a cohesive whole. The ideas get bigger and bigger as the pages turn, until an ending that left my brain numb for hours after I read it. So the story truly delivers on the fronts of being intriguing and making the reader think.
The story delivers a bit less on the front of making the reader feel, though. I cared about the characters when reading, but they were mostly one dimensional in the sense that they never really evolved in the story. Dialog also felt not entirely natural at parts, and while the story is based on some very heated emotions between two of it's major characters, it's not entirely convincing.
One more note - if you are going to read this book, better make sure you have some basic understanding of physics, computer science and engineering. As the story follows the crew of a spaceship in a very hard sci-fi story, the kind of trouble they struggle with often has to do either with a ship malufuntion (which they fix with engineering) or some sort of outer-space physics related trouble (one memorable sequence has the crew figuring out a way to spin their long-as-a-skyscraper ship around as quickly as possible without tearing it in half from the inertia) . As such, it's better to have some idea about such concepts.
Fantastic story, interesting concept, complex personalities, strong female roles, good pacing, and I couldn't predict the last few chapters, which is always nice.
I think my only complaint might be that it was difficult at time to recognize the giant leaps in the timeline right away, and I had to go back and reread a few pages to make sense of what just happened. A little editing there might clean this up, but it may just be me, and others won't have this issue.
The book itself is relatively clean of simple editing errors, which is a nice change of pace. I've been reading a lot of independent fiction on Amazon, and sometimes it can get in the way of enjoying a novel. I only ran across a handful of those type of errors, so nothing to worry about.