Tag Archives: sci-fi

Gearing Up: Week Two

By this point, you should have your characters, or at least have thought about them enough that you think you know what kind of people they are going to be.  Chances are, this has also led you into thoughts on how they are going to fit into your story, and what type of world they are going to be living in.

Is there magic?

Are there dragons?

Does anyone ever leave the coffee shop that the two characters have met in?

These are just a few of the questions you’ll find yourself asking as you being to create your setting. I have gone over a bit about setting before during Dexter Week (Read it here), but this will be focused more on how you create one than how to decide where it’s going to be.

The first step is to decide if this is going to take place in a fantastical world of make-believe or in our real world, or some combination of the two. Each  of them has their own pros and cons.  A fantastical world frees you of limitations that our world has, such as gravity, or gaining faster-than-light space travel to go to other planets.  The problem comes when it starts getting too out there, and your reader will have a hard time getting into the book because they will constantly be reminded of just how far away they are from home they are unless you give them concrete things to hold onto.

A great example of these fantastical worlds are found in Lord of the Rings and Chasm CityIn these worlds, humans are the standards, an object of familiarity that we can hold onto. In Lord of the Rings, we are also slowly introduced to the more fantastical aspects, which makes them easier to swallow and gain understanding of before moving to the next.

Having a setting take place in our world means that you don’t need to worry about the audience connecting with it. They know our world, the rules therein, and how they would expect people to react within certain situations. The cons are appearing for that same reason: the world is known and you can not stray from it lest people stop to believe, or get angry about details that you forgot or are untrue.  It’s reasons like this that people who write historical fiction with years of research behind it are truly some of the best authors in my mind. They can keep track of so many different aspects at once.

The final choice, having a fantastical normal world, is one that more and more authors are going down.  Just look at the amount of books that are appearing in the “urban fiction” settings at the local bookstore.  The pros and cons here are mixed.  Yes, you can have a pre-made setting that you find out of the books on a city, but you also make it yours by twisting a few things around in it.  Care still needs to be cautioned though so that you don’t make it too fantastical and risk alienating your audience by taking it too far away from reality.

So, make your choice. What is your setting?

Once this has been decided, you can start to create your world: make cities, villages.  In gaming terms, create some NPCs to populate your world that your characters can interact with on their quest for something.  Maybe there’s some strange quirk about this world (man eating Fog is one quirk I’ve been kicking around for a while) that is a fact of life for everyone.  Perhaps the people of one city live their lives backwards, or can only speak in rhyme.

Whatever your setting is, flesh it out!  Build a world as if you were the god of it, create, create, create!  You can always edit things out later, but why limit yourself at the beginning!?  You never know what you might come up with that will fuel another story.

 

ETA: Featured on Writers Weekly on October 13th, 2011.  http://paper.li/paultlowe/1307471907

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Lover’s Requiem: Chapter Seven

Chapter seven is now up for reading.

Also, Monday’s post will likely be delayed until about Tuesday or perhaps later due to family events, a trip to Ohio, a possible lack of internet and Athena (the computer) remaining back at home.

Enjoy what is the longest chapter of this novella!

 

CHAPTER SEVEN- WE ARE ALWAYS SEARCHING

He awoke not long before the sun sunk beneath the horizon.  From his spot in the shadows of the church’s loft, he sat and watched the last rays hit Anahita from the opening that was left in absence of the stained glass.  Her wings weren’t pulled back for once, but rather open and soaking in the warmth before the cold of the dark night.

Koios turned his attention to his other senses.  There was no one else in the sanctuary aside from them.  There were no other heartbeats that he could discern with his ears.  Smelling the air only showed him that some places needed to be dusted more than others, and the corner where he was sitting was one of them.  There was no taste of blood in his mouth.  He left the rest of that thought alone.  There was no time to go hunting tonight.  Perhaps if he ignored hunger long enough, it would go away and he would not need to.  Touch only showed him that he was sitting on stone and it was beginning to become painful.

Darkness became a shroud around him and the angel as the sun finally disappeared, taking warmth with it, but leaving safety behind.  He stood and walked to the edge of the window, looking down at the ground below.  The glass shards had been cleaned up, leaving nothing but this hole as a sign of his passing.  He could see and hear children below, running around.  Their faces were obscured with paint or masks and bodies hidden beneath layers of clothes in order to ward off the chill of the night as they moved from house to house, ringing bells and knocking on doors.  Parents with flashlights stood at the ends of the driveways, lending more light to the already bright night.

Before this year, he had loved All Hallows’ Eve more than anything.  It was a shifting in the natural order of things, when dark became more active than day.  When night was not feared.  And it was so very easy to eat his fill on this night.  Now, staring down on them, with an angel next to him, it felt different.  He couldn’t say how, it was so subtle.  Something about being able to protect them.

Shaking it, Koios tried to clear his head.  Where were these thoughts coming from?  He was still a vampire.  That was prey down there, and easy pickings at that.  He should be down there with the rest of his court, engaging in the fun they had every year.  He should be there with Diu…

Diu.  That name again.  Latin for day.  He was anything but.  It also meant for a long time.  That fit better.

He snorted and stopped thinking altogether.  There was nothing to be worried about now.  One goal and one goal only: stop Diu from killing others.

“Are you ready?” Anahita asked him quietly, still looking out at the world.

“Yes.”

She looked at him.  “Truly?”

“Yes.”

“Is this the last of our hauntings then?”

There was a smirk on his face as he looked over at her.  “I haven’t heard your word for our dates in a long time.”

“I hope that you’ll be able to hear it many more times in the future.”

“That will only happen if we both survive and manage to see each other again.  And, as I am a demon in a man’s body,” the grim face and voice was back, “I doubt that will happen.”

Anahita only nodded, not knowing what to say.  Anything that she said at that point would only sound like a lie to him.  “Where will he be?”

“Diu?”  She nodded again.  “Out in the city.  He and the court will be together on this night.  It’s the one time we can all travel as a group and not be noticed.”  He looked back out of the window and down at the children wandering around once more.  “I never thought I would say this, but for once I’m praying again.”

“Oh?”

“I pray that we find Diu in time so that we don’t have even more carnage to deal with tonight.  There is enough done in his name already.”

“I have said it before.  You are a good man, Koios.”

“Good demon, perhaps.  But no man.”

“Be that as it may.  You are none the less.”  She turned from the window and began to walk towards the stairs that lead down from the choir loft and out into the church.  “Shall we go then?”

“Yes.  I will need to eat tonight though.  If I’m going to have strength to face Diu and the entire court, I will need blood.”  He paused in his words as he saw the look of horror on her face.  “I’m sorry.  But I need to.”

“On who?  There are only children out tonight!” Anahita yelled at him

“You have not seen me feed before, angel,” he growled out at her.  “I do not take from children and I do not kill them.  I never let my demon out to reign over me completely until two nights ago.  I might have killed that, but that was it.”

“You’re telling me that you did no lasting harm to anyone?” Her voice was tinged with astonishment.  She didn’t believe him.

“I fed, but I tried to keep them alive when I was finished.  I took the memory of my time there from their mind and then left them.”  Koios resumed walking and went past her where she was on the stairs.  His black clothes were almost swirling around him as he descended down.  “I understand if you don’t want to come with.  I will meet you back here once I have finished.”  She said something then, but it was too soft for even his ears to pick up.  He turned back, one foot still on the stairs and one on the stone floor of the church.  “What was that?”

“Would my blood work?”

He gave a short and cynical laugh.  “I asked once if you would let me take from you.  You said no.”  Then, he spun back around and shot out of the door of the church at a brisk walk.  He stalked through the night, some children scattering out of his way, others commenting on what an amazing and cool and neat costume he had and were those fangs real, mister, ‘cause they sure looked real and other such inane comments until the parents of the children came and collected their young in order to move them through the night to the next house that was full of blood and sugar.

It didn’t take long for Koios to find a bar that was packed full of drunks and had several more tumbling outside every so often for either a smoke break or to head home for more drinks.  It was easy for him to convince one such drunkard to follow him into the alley.  It also didn’t take much time to subdue her as she was already more than halfway there, though it did take him an hour or so to sober up after feeding from her.  He didn’t need as much as he used to, however.  Perhaps is had something to do with Anahita’s blood.  In that time, he wandered through the city, enjoying not having to care about anything.  It was nice, and not something he had done since before he had been turned.

It was soon after he sobered up that he walked into another subdivision.  Thoughts were on nothing, cares were not even existent any more.  It was then that he noticed  someone who looked very familiar to him.  “Lupus?” he called out, sure that he was right.

The being turned, showing his face and indeed, it was the member of Diu’s Court who he knew.  “Koios?  But I thought you were dead.  Diu said…”

“Diu lied.  He’s the reason that I’m even here to begin with.  It was he who killed both me and…and Brigett.”

“I knew that, you idiot.  I was the one who killed your precious girlfriend eleven years ago.”  Lupus’ voice was cold, yet matter-of-fact.    It held no remorse in it, however.

“You killed her?” he replied softly.  His voice was barely above a whispers, but it carried easily to the elder vampire’s ears.

“On Diu’s orders.  It’s a great honor to be asked to participate in one of his hunts.  And even better if one of the hunts turns into a night of turning.  It’s something that you should have thought of before you declined his offer to turn one of your own and to have your own Court.  It’s an honor to have one.  I’ve wanted one for years, yet some little prick is going to get it instead of me, just because Diu likes him better?  I don’t think so,” Lupus yelled at him.  He launched himself towards Koios, who dropped to the ground immediately. There were advantages to vampire speed.

As Koios raised his head, he saw who Lupus had been feeding on.  It was a child.  One of the ones who was dressed up as some type of goblin or witch or what not.  As soon as that was seen, he felt anger rise completely to the fore until he saw red.  He rose, just as Lupus came at him again.  “You bastard!” Koios screamed at him.  “You go after kids!  You’re just a poor little kid yourself, being the good son, in hopes that daddy Diu would finally like you.”  He let a punch fly as soon as his adversary was in range.  The punch did little to deter the great hulking vampire from coming at him again.  Koios found himself on the receiving end of a like punch that sent him reeling to the ground once again, small pieces of brick falling from the building that he was pushed into.    He fought back the fog that threatened to envelop him when his head hit the wall.  It took him too long to clear it, however, and the much smaller vampire found himself being picked up and tossed once more, this time towards a wooden fence that he hadn’t seen before.  As he went flying towards it, he thought about the fact that he wouldn’t be able to help Anahita take out Diu, or stop Diu from hurting anyone else

He landed and closed his eyes, ready for the flames that came to eat at his body and turn it to ash as the wooden slats of the old fence pierced his chest and heart.  He was certainly flying at a high enough speed that there would be enough power to drive one of the splinters into his heart.  There was no all consuming pain, however.  Koios opened his eyes and found that he was more or less in one piece and that one a few wooden splinters had entered his body, and all were far away from his heart.  He had lived.  What was more, was that he was now sitting in a pile of weapons deadly to his opponent.   Snatching a few up, he moved to a crouch, holding the makeshift stakes like daggers had been held in medieval times.  He didn’t think to throw them.  There was something inherently bad about a strategy of fighting the included throwing away your only weapon.  He waited there, patient, waiting for his enemy to come to him.  His advantage laid in his speed, not in brute force.  It didn’t take long nor much goading before Lupus charged at him again.  Koios felt most of the impact in his shoulder, followed by his upper back when he slammed into the very same wall yet again.  “I’m getting tired of this,” he growled out, right before, bringing up one of the stakes and jerking it towards Lupus.

Batting it away, Lupus laughed. “You’ll need to be a lot faster than that, boy, if you want to win.”

“I already am,” Koios said quietly.

Lupus looked down and saw one of the splinters from the broken fence jammed into his chest.  He hadn’t even seen the attack happen, nor where the stake had come from.  “Where the hell did you get that from?  Pull it out of your a–.”

He never had time to finish his sentence before bursting into flames and then fading to ash.  The body was still burning slightly as Koios left the alley.  “I have been accused of having one there before, yes.”

The streets that had been so full before were now near empty.  It had to be close to ten, if the previous year’s Halloween was anything to go off of.  It was around then that the parents brought their children in from outside, deciding that they had braved the dangers of the night long enough.  There were things that he needed to do, however, and it was best if they were done in the dark of the night.  For one, he needed to find Diu.  In order to complete that task, he also needed to find Anahita.

It didn’t take him long to get back to the church that had served as both meeting place and sanctuary before.  She was no longer present there, which meant that he had to search for her on his own.  He closed his eyes and focused on the energy around him, meaning to draw in power to create his wings as he used to do.  Almost without thought, he felt his black wings burst from his body, only without any of the disappearance of energy that usually occurred when he manipulated it.  Another side effect of the angel blood in him, no doubt.  It made perfect sense that he would gain the ability to fly, after all. As he rose into the air, he found that there was almost a pull telling him which way to go.  He wondered if this was what angels felt, being told what to do and where to go.  He needed to get rid of this blood and soon.  He hated feeling like he was out of control.

He couldn’t help but feel as thougt he was meant to follow the pulling and pushing though.  So follow it he did, searching beneath him for any sign of Anahita or her passing. It was near the middle of the city, in an empty parking lot, that he felt the push again, only this time, it was pulling him downwards.  He landed, wings folded behind him, yet letting them remain in an attempt to show the others who were there that he too had power.

Looking around, he saw that he had landed almost three feet away from Anahita, who had a sword in one of her hands.  Across from the two of them was aligned with Diu’s Court, with Diu himself in the middle.  “I see you found me,” Anahita told him softly.

“Your blood called me to you.”

“No more searching for one another then.”

“Never.”

“As touching as this is,” Diu called out, “I need to ask the two of you to move.  We have done nothing wrong, Angel.  Indeed, it is you who has done wrong, by consorting with one of our own.  That is against the laws of the magical beings.”

She brought her sword up to rest in a guarded stance.  “I reject your laws when necessary to ensure that no more innocent blood is spilt.”

“Koios,” Diu turned to speak to him now.  “Listen to me.  I made you.  I welcomed you and treated you as my son.  Did you ever lack for anything while within my care?  Did I ever force you to do something that you did not wish to do?”  His voice was like silk, but Koios knew all too well the poison fangs that were hidden with that velvet tongue.

“No.  You tried to end me, however.  And for that I can not forgive you.”

“So then we fight,” Diu sighed out.  “So it must be.  This ends here and now.”  He stepped back, and his court surged around him, closing in on the only two that stood against him:  an angel with a sword and a young vampire with no weapons but his fists.

°°°°

Trivia: This chapter was the hardest one to write.  I wasn’t completely sure where I wanted to go during it, all that I knew was that they needed to get to the parking lot where Diu was. The fight between Koios and Lupus was not one that I had planned, but as soon as I placed the two in a street together, I knew that was what needed to happen.  This was the last chapter I wrote in my run of writing in 2006.  The last few chapters I finished this August with Camp NaNo after struggling with how I wanted “The Ship Of Pills” to begin and end.


Reading the Classics

In last week’s post on HG Wells‘ classic The War of the World, two commenters really made me stop and think.  First was Mymatejoechip, who cautioned against feeling as though I had to read all of the classics.  Then there was Joachim Boaz, who suggested that I try reading Wells other “classic” book, The Invisible Man.

Within these two comments, there are two different thoughts on the classics, I feel, and whether an author—or a reader—should feel pressed that he/she should read them.

There are some of the classics that I feel should be read by those wishing to pursue writing as a career, as these were the books that did it first.  So, in no particular order, I give you Megan Hammer’s List of Classic Books Authors Should Read (or at least try):

Dracula, by Stoker, is first on this list.  It really created the modern horror genre as we think of it today, not to mention that it began the vampire craze that has carried over to this day.  It showcases three different writing styles—journalistic, narrative first person and narrative third on occasion—and truly reveals how it’s possible to have one story told from three or four different perspectives.  The fact that Dracula is so rarely seen in the latter half makes him even more frightening, and truly puts forth the idea that horror is caused by the unknown, and that we, as readers, don’t need to know everything.

I also believe Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein should be on this list.  While not as horrific in the traditional sense as Dracula, it is excellent for seeing the nuances of human behavior through the eyes of what society deems a monster.  And how, by naming something, we can often bring about its existence, simply because we see it is there.  Frankenstein was also one of the first books in the “modern” world written by a woman, which really helped to, I think, pave the way for the rest of us woman writers out there.

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, in fact, anything by Jules Verne, is well worth a read, I think.  Each of his books are well written, and explore ideas that were so far-fetched in their days but are brought to a level that makes sense. Travel around the world in eighty days?  Impossible in the 1800s to even imagine.  Now we can do it in 80 hours. Journey is brilliant for the fact that most of it is fantastical, a rather revolutionary idea at the time of writing, when most books weren’t involving strange creatures and places.

Lord of the Rings might be cliché, but it really did cement the place of Fantasy in the hearts of many, and was one of the first main-stream fantasies to be out there.  Yes, it’s long and drawn out, but think of the fact that Tolkien was writing it while in the trenches in order to keep everyone amused and away from the horrors of war.  They are well written, and every last loose end is accounted for.  In terms of setting creation, there is no better book to come to than Lord of the Rings to watch a master at work.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is one I suggest reading if you have time and are willing to read it several times in order to make sense of it.  The name has become a catchprase in our modern culture, which really shows its lasting power.  I did a 20 page research paper on it back in High School, and even after spending that much time on it, there were things I was still discovering about and laughing at.  This book takes the cake for a study in narrative and character creation.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a good series, and I think mystery writers especially should read at least one of them in their lifetime.  It’s an exercise in clue-gathering, and wondering why you didn’t see that the Maid was actually the victim the entire time you were reading!  Most of the books are rather short, and easy to get through in one afternoon or so.

So there is my list of classics I think people should read.  What ones are on your list?  Are they classics, modern contempories, or that one book you found just last week on the bargain shelf at the bookstore that you fell in love with?


Book Review Seven: The War of the Worlds by HG Wells

I realized the other day, that I could not truly call myself a Sci-Fi fan nor writer for one very specific reason: I had never read The War of the Worlds by HG Wells, a staple of the Sci-Fi community.  Thankfully, I was able to solve this quickly, as I had found the book for twenty five cents at a rummage sale.

Considering it to have originally be written over one hundred years ago in 1898, I will admit that I expected to be bored.  And, to be fair, some parts of the book did seem to be long and drawn out.  The first two chapters especially suffered from an information dump in the exposition, and really had me dragging my feet in order to finish the book.  However, once the Martians landed, the pace did indeed pick up and I rapidly read through the book in the course of an afternoon outside.

It is written in a journalistic style, which really lends itself to the credibility of the tale.  I can understand now why people thought Mars truly was attacking during the Audio Drama of it in 1938.  My only complaint is that the first part of the book–The Coming of the Martians–also told the story of his brother and two women who were trying to escape the attacks by fleeing off the coast of England.  How would the narrator ever learn of this, especially since the ending of this section made it seem as though his brother died, never to be heard from again.  This question, on if the brother is alive or not, is a sticking point with me even after finishing the book a few weeks ago.

While unremarkable in this day and age, it was completely revolutionary in its time, especially due to the fact that it included space travel, evolution, the threat of bacteria, as well as blood transfusions as a form of survival.  These ideas might seem commonplace now, but in 1898, the thought of leaving Earth was something that was only dreamed about.

This book is said to have inspired Robert H. Goddard to his career choice of inventing rockets, rockets that eventually brought the Apollo project to the moon. Far-reaching results indeed.

Numerous audio dramas, film adaptations, and even a few comic books shows have come from this book that, in  1898 was said to be too brutal for the average reader.

While not the best book out there, it is one that I feel should be on every person’s reading list as a Book that Shaped Our World.

Five out of five stars for the lasting impression it has left, though only four out of five for the actual book itself.

Find it here

Cover from: http://www.spellcaster.com/tomkidd/ablog/wwjacket.jpg


Book Review Three: Dragonsong by Anne McCaffery

The first book in the Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffery, Dragonsong remains one of my favorite fantasy books to reread when I get a chance.

It tells the story of a young girl named Menolly, who wants nothing more than to be a Harper.  There’s a problem with this plan though: only boys can be Harpers and Half-Circle Sea Hold is horribly old fashioned.

Stuck doing nothing but teaching the littlest the history of Pern, Menolly is banned from ever playing anything of her own creation because, in the eyes of her father and head of the hold, only a Harper can do that, and she is not one of them.

After a fishing accident leaves her unable to use her left hand to play any instrument, Menolly leaves the hold on morning and finds herself stranded outside when the deadly threat of her world comes upon her: Thread.  With the choice of either finding shelter or burning when the Thread touches her, Menolly happens upon a cave on the seacoast where she finds the eggs of a rare species–Fire Lizards–beginning to hatch.  In an attempt to save them from the deadly Thread, she feeds them all, and finds herself with nine new friends who could do with some more to eat.

Here starts the tale of Menolly living outside of the hold and on her own for the first time in her life.  Living with the Lizards isn’t easy though, and when Menolly finds herself outside of the safety of her cave during another Thread-fall, she nearly runs her feet to the bone before she is rescued by those who protect Pern from Thread as best they can: the Dragon Riders.

Healed by the Dragon Riders, Menolly discovers that another guest of the Riders is none other than Masterharper Robinton himself, the head of the Harper’s guild.  At his request, Menolly joins the Harpers, all nine Fire Lizards in tow, as they journey off to the Guild hall to begin her education.

While the story of “the youngest girl who doesn’t fit in” might seem old to fans of fantasy now, McCaffery was actually one of the first to do it.  Her world of Pern bound together the idea of fantasy dragons and space travel, though the sci-fi aspects of Pern aren’t seen in this novel.

I will likely be tarred and feathered for dare saying it, but some of the motivations of the characters left a bit to be desired, such as just why the Hold was so against Menolly singing her own songs or becoming a Harper.  While it is explained by “no dishonor to the Hold”, that explanation leaves me wondering just how a good singer/Harper could be a dishonor.

The book is quite short as well, so it’s a nice read if you’re after something quick in between meetings or classes–or that is easy to hold up with one hand while you have a broken elbow!

If you haven’t read it, I suggest it.  If you have, well, then you already know that it is worth the reread.  I give it five out of five starts.

…and I’m off to go get more pain pills.

Cover art from: http://bookshelvesofdoom.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8345169e469e201287611ee6d970c-250wi


Book Review Two: Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds

My immediate reaction upon finishing Alastair Reynolds‘ book Chasm City was “what a ride”.  Even now I’m still absorbing the myriad plot lines that were expertly woven through the book that shouldn’t have worked together, but somehow did.

My 2003 edition of the book begins with the main character, Tanner Mirabel, tracking down the man who killed his boss.  Owing a debt of honor to his boss, Tanner has vowed to track Reivich to the ends of space to kill him if he has to.  What starts innocently enough as a murder attempt (if attempted murder can ever be called simple) begins to get complicated once the space elevator to Orbit explodes with Tanner on it, and he awakes decades later on a planet light years away from his own planet: Sky’s Edge.

Suffering from the after effects of being in a cryogenic sleep for the past thirty years, Tanner begins a trip down to the surface of Yellowstone and the only livable city there: Chasm City.

But a plague had struck the city not long ago, leaving those with nano-technology in them racing to have it removed before it took on lives of their own or was destroyed, and the buildings that had once grown only to accommodate new tenants grew wild and created their own tree-like structures.  The rich live in the Canopy, while the lower dregs of society are found in the Mulch.  Those in the Canopy had once been immortal with their nano-technology implants, but now found themselves searching for a new cure for death. 

The answer, a near drug called Dream Fuel, causes Tanner to find himself woven into a spiraling web as he searches for Reivich in the city.  In a stunning turn of events, he abandons his death quest to go after the source of this drug, both to help someone to whom he owes another debt, but to also unlock questions about his own past.

Because when taken, Dream Fuel unlocks memories for Tanner that he didn’t know existed.

By the time Tanner has finally tracked Reivich to a ship in orbit, he has come to some startling revelations about himself that even he was unaware of.

Woven into this story is the tale of Sky Haussmann, a member of the Flotilla  of Generation Ships that left Earth centuries ago enroute for a new home by a star nicknamed Swan.  We witness his descent into madness and are silent observers as he becomes consumed with getting his ship, the Santiago to the planet first.  What follows is an increasingly horrible series of events that made even me wonder just why I was still cheering for this man to succeed and have his ship land first on a planet that would later be renamed Sky’s End.

Finally, there is the tale of Tanner and his boss, Cahuella, and the attack by Reivich’s men that began this whole affair.  Told through flashbacks, there begin to be startling revelations towards the end that hints that Tanner might not be who he thought he was.

When all these plot lines converge in the last one hundred or so pages of the novel, it was all I could do to put down the book in order to do things like eat and sleep. 

There were a few aspects that seemed to come from out of left field, such as giant space-faring maggot/flies running from Machines that ate them.  Generally though, the world, for being Sci-Fi and taking place far from any reality we know, is completely believable.  Even the Canopy, a place where genetic mutation and enhancement is a common-place for the inhabitants, is a place that I could see existing.

About halfway through the Haussmann story, it was relatively clear to see just where Reynolds was going with the story, but the revelation of Tanner’s true identity was kept a closely guarded secret until the very climax of the story and reveled in such a way that it didn’t feel contrived or weak.

Being true “hard Sci-fi”, it was easy enough to suspend disbelief while reading this that the world created made sense.  While not a sequel to Revelations Space, I have been told that this is more of a fleshing out of the universe created in it, so it heightens the experience more if you read that first.  I did not though, so I can not say for sure one way or another.

Alastair Reynolds’ book gets a definite 5 out of 5 and I will be making room on my shelves for more of his books, I feel.

Read it for yourself here