Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

Discussion in 'Alastair Reynolds' started by Boreas, Jun 18, 2015.

  1. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Just read this short work by Reynolds. Absolutely loved it and it confirms why Reynolds is one my favourite science fiction authors. My only disappointment, that it wasn't a longer novel so that some of the big ideas he introduced could be fleshed our properly. Still, the story gets an A from me. In terms of a numerical value, a solid 4/5. Review here.

    Now I need to get to his latest trilogy, the last volume of which was also released recently.
  2. Tiran

    Tiran Well-Known Member

    Not to be a wet blanket, I found Slow Bullets to be Reynold's worst novel (I have not read Revenger, but most everything else). The titular technology seemed absurd and the story didn't do anything for me. It seemed like something he wrote while still figuring out his craft.

    I have a lot of respect for Reynolds, but some his novels really show the limitations of his ability to write compelling characters and dialogue. Elysium Fire also seemed really clumsy compared to the Revelation Space novels it is based on, which are among his best works along with Pushing Ice and House of Suns.
    Boreas likes this.
  3. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Sorry for such a late reply, have really not been visiting here regularly. Definitely agree with most of his RS oeuvre and some of his early stand-alones like House of Suns and Pushing Ice being some of his best work. And I understand people's complaints with Slow Bullets, but I really didn't feel that way.

    First, it's not really a novel - I gathered from the reviews that most people expected it to be a typical full-length work by Reynolds and were bitterly disappointed by its novella length for which the publisher charged full price. I was aware it was going to be a short work, so that didn't catch me by surprise.

    Second, I thought Reynolds shifted his focus for this work. He's not concerned with technology here. He's attempted to write a far more intimate story and even utilised the device of unreliable narration. Whatever technology he presents here is just a means to an end, and the story revolves around human concerns of conflict, the consequences of memory, and attempting to achieve some sort of ethical resolution to a situation he brings up. I thought he succeeded. Yes, it was a little rough around the edges and, yes, it was a little incomplete in terms of the over-arching plot and the cosmological mystery he touches upon. But I really felt he succeeded in what he set out to do, and I give him kudos for going out of his comfort zone. I appreciate others didn't feel that way, but I'm willing to provide him extra slack for experimentation and attempting to increase the scope of his writing.
  4. Tiran

    Tiran Well-Known Member

    I suppose I felt he got out of his comfort zone more effectively with Century Rain and Terminal World. The length and format of Bullets didn't bother me - it just seemed absurd and clunky in execution.

    But I really dislike popular books by Brin and Stross, so I realize my tastes are not universal.
  5. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Yeah, Terminal World was definitely left-field for Reynolds, but more in terms of plot/concepts rather than focusing on the human element in the limited, experimental fashion he did for Slow Bullets. Haven't read Century Rain yet, but I will at some point.

    I've read some of the early Uplift books by Brin, but that's it. Really enjoyed Startide Rising. Have not much Stross at all aside from Singularity Sky.
  6. Tiran

    Tiran Well-Known Member

    Startide Rising was a book I thought had really poorly realized characters.
  7. Tiran

    Tiran Well-Known Member

    I wrote the above post on my phone, and I made it too brief - I apologize if it sounded rude. What I meant to say is that Startide Rising was, coincidentally, exactly the book that put me off Brin.

    Again, it is just personal taste - Brin is a very popular author. He has many fans and even had films made of two of his novels.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  8. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I enjoyed Startide Rising not for the characters, but for the romp it provided. Granted, it started off slowly, but once the momentum picked up, I was having fun. My favourite parts actually ended up being those psychedelic alien perspective that were peppered through the novel as very short interludes.

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