Copyright 2001 by
I first read this on the 8th September 2002.
Tanner Mirabel is an ex-mercenary, now a security specialist. His boss is Cahuella.
a powerful arms dealer, and a very nasty man indeed. Arms dealing is a profitable business
on the world of Sky's Edge, but it's also dangerous since war is endemic to the
planet and alliances and loyalties shift continually.
When Cahuella is killed by an aggrieved victim of one of Chahuella's arms deals,
Tanner determines to track down the killer and exact his vengeance. His quest
takes him from Sky's Edge and leads his to the planet of Yellowstone in Epsilon
Eridani, and to its unique Chasm City.
Infected by a malignant indoctrinal virus, bleeding from stigmata and suffering
waking-nightmares, Tanner has to hold his battered personality together long enough to
get the job done. And all this in Chasm City, a once magnificent marvel, now the
deranged ruin that resulted from another, nanotechnological, virus attack.
Oh dear, oh dear. I enjoyed Revelation Space, good solid imaginative SF but this novel
is a different kettle of fish. The first hundred or so pages were all quite
reasonable. I was looking forward to seeing what happened. Tanner seemed an
interesting, maybe cool, character. The flashbacks to the generation ships making the
long voyage from Earth were excellent. But then it all drifts off into some Perdido
Street Station mode with excessive time wasted on descriptions of just how interesting
is the Chasm city architecture, plus the unnecessary introduction of unusual
characters to alternatively aid or hinder Tanner in his quest.
And then there's the dialogue. When I say, in threatening tone of voice, "or I'll
redecorate the car with your cranium", I get slapped around the head and told to shut
up. I can't really imagine that Tanner, however tough a dude he may be, can get away
with unloading this drivel on his captives, unless it's intended merely to disable
them through laughter, to horizontal them with mirth. And does this dialogue really
work to pick up the babes, as it appears to with Tanner, or are they just interested
in his unique facial features or his muddled mind?
I got seriously bored with this novel but plodded on through hoping (vainly
as it turned out) that it would all pull together at the end. It doesn't. Some of the
puzzles are answered, laboriously, but the answers are just thrown away. Look at the
strange plague that devastated the city - highly complex and interesting stuff - and
then look at the explanation of its cause and what's done with that explanation.
There's some great writing, there's some good perceptions, but it's too long, it's
confused, it's undisciplined and it's illogical. Basically Reynolds loses the plot.
What's it got? Oh, loads of stuff: big ships, big guns, dangerous virii, wildly
cosmeticised gun-toting babes, aliens and very odd humans, immortality treatments and
Loaded on the 24th September 2002.