Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Alastair Reynolds - Revenger
Ye' ol' pirate, matey! This one isn't marked as a 'young adult' novel, but perhaps it should be. Two young girls travel into space, get into a fight with a pirate, and then (obviously) one of them gets taken. Away. Scifi style.
I liked this one, even if I (in general) dislike pirate stories.
It's pirates in space.
However, if you look for a cheap, flat, cliche 'pirates in space' then Reynolds may just surprise you, because he seems to have put quite some thought into making it work.
Arafura Ness (I like the name) loosing a hand, gaining a parasite, and hunting down the worst pirate of them all. In a reasonable believable scifi setting. Now all I want is to learn more of the background and setting!
Reynolds pulls the same trick in Revenger as he did with Terminal World. He has build a complex background with a strange mix of different technological levels, and offers a few glimpses of that world. Yet he does not completely explain why the world happens to be as it is.
Sometimes it doesn't matter. With Terminal World a (more) detailed explanation isn't really necessary. It would be nice to have a sequel to figure out what happened, but it's okay the way it is.
Revenger, however, doesn't (sufficiently) scratch (that part of) my itch. There's a lot that isn't told, a whole universe of aliens, locked-up 'baubles' (self-storage on a cosmic scale), and worlds to be explored and explained. Some of it is maddening. For example, even I do understand that 'lung stuff' is air, 'sweeper' is a kind of radar, and so on. But when Reynolds talks about 'worlds' I'm still not sure what to make of it. I think the whole story plays itself out in a single solar system, with the worlds just all different satellites, tube worlds, planetoids and so on. 'Swallowers' are probably black holes (which are used to anchor some of the 'worlds' and provide gravity to them). There seem to have been multiple invasions ('occupations') and interstellar wars, and at some time technology may have been at much higher levels (hence things like instant implants and self-aware robots).
So, what happened to humanity? What happened to (the knowledge of) advanced technology? I want to know!
The good news? It appears there is an upcoming sequel called Revealer, arriving in 2019. Can't wait.
A little disturbing
How crazy is Arafura Ness? Using someone's skin as paper, and blood as ink, is a little sick. Either she's affected by the glowies, the Boson, or became somewhat unhinged by her adventures.
Note that I listened to the audiobook instead of reading the printed version.