Alastair Reynolds – Galactic North and Zima Blue

Anyone who knows me is very aware that I’m a huge fan of the science fiction writing of leading British/Welsh “hard” SF author, Alastair Reynolds (and of New Space Opera/Hard SF in general). I have most of his novels, with the exception of a couple of the most recent – I’ll have to rectify that omission soon – but as much as I like Reynolds’ novels, I like his short fiction even more.

I’ve been a fan of his short SF going right back to the very first short story of his (that is, the very first that I read, not the first he had published), “Spirey and the Queen”, which appeared in Interzone 108 (June 1996). I liked this story a lot, so I did my usual thing and put his name into my little mental list of “new SF writers to watch out for”, with the intention of reading any other Reynolds stories that I came across.

But it was really with “Galactic North”, which was published in Interzone 145, that he became one of my favourite SF authors. Reading “Galactic North” (and, around the same time, and also in Interzone, another one of his stories, “A Spy in Europa”) was like receiving a high-octane boost of adrenaline, and just pushed all the right buttons for me. This exciting New Space Opera, a fusion of ultra-hard SF and the more traditional action adventure of classic space opera, was like a breath of fresh air to me. From that point onwards, I began to hunt eagerly for every SF magazine that I could find containing any Alastair Reynolds stories, followed by every Reynolds novel that was released, starting with his Revelation Space sequence of novels, REVELATION SPACE, REDEMPTION ARK and ABSOLUTION GAP.

Right now, on my bookcase, I just happen to be looking right at a couple of lovely collections of short stories written by Reynolds:

Galactic North

The first is a very nice signed 1st edition hardcover of GALACTIC NORTH, his first short story collection. This is a collection of stories set in his classic Revelation Space universe, which includes both of the above-mentioned stories, “Galactic North” and “A Spy in Europa”. This is a fantastic selection of stories, spanning a time from barely a couple of hundred years in the future, way up to a distant forty thousand years ahead, and set in a universe inhabited by the likes of the Conjoiners, Ultras, Demarchists (all sub-branches of humanity), the Inhibitors (ancient alien killing machines which have been awakened from aeons-long sleep, with one single objective – to annihilate any emerging intelligent species, in this case, humanity), and any number of other brilliant creations from the amazingly inventive mind of Mr. Reynolds.

Zima Blue

The second hardback collection is ZIMA BLUE, a companion volume to GALACTIC NORTH, this time a selection of his non-Revelation Space short fiction, which includes the aforementioned “Spirey and the Queen” and other equally excellent tales. These fascinating and enjoyable stories show that Reynolds is not a one-trick pony, and has many other great stories to tell that are not based in the Revelation Space universe. His more recent novels based in various non-Revelation Space scenarios, including HOUSE OF SUNS, CENTURY RAIN and PUSHING ICE, show that there is an entire multiverse of new stories still to come from the fertile mind of Alastair Reynolds.

I’d already previously read almost everything in these two collections, with the exception of several of the newer stories, but it’s really nice to get all of these excellent stories in two nice books, instead of having to go hunting through piles of SF magazines trying to find individual stories.

These two books are an absolute must for all Alastair Reynolds fans, and I’d not only recommend them to anybody who enjoys Hard SF/New Space Opera, but indeed good, ripping SF yarns of any kind. Anybody who may not yet have had the good fortune to have read any Alastair Reynolds, take my advice – grab these two collections, jump in, feet first, and enjoy some of the best SF short fiction available.

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Reading SF: Galactic North, by Alastair Reynolds

Now Reading: Galactic North by Alastair Reynolds

I’ve just bought a very nice collection of SF stories by leading British/Welsh “hard” SF author Alastair Reynolds. A signed 1st edition hardcover of Galactic North, a collection of stories set in his Revelation Space universe. I’ve been a fan of Alastair’s SF going right back to “Spirey and the Queen” in Interzone 108 (June 1996). I began to take note of any other Reynolds stories that appeared, but it was with “Galactic North” in Interzone 145 that he became one of my favourite SF authors.

It was like being shot between the eyes, and just pushed all the right buttons for me. The blend of hard SF and exciting action adventure was like a breath of fresh air, and I began to hunt eagerly for every SF magazine that I could find containing Alastair Reynolds stories, followed by every Reynolds novel that was released. At the time, I didn’t realise it, but this was the real start of my love affair with the then-relatively new sub-genre of New Space Opera.

Now I’m delighted to get my sweaty, eager paws on Galactic North, his first collection. I’ve already read almost everything in this, with the exception of the newer stories, but it’s really nice to get all of these Revelation Space stories in one lovely hardback book, instead of having to hunt through back issues of SF magazines such as Interzone, Asimov’s SF and Spectrum SF for individual stories. A must for all Alastair Reynolds fans, and I’d recommend it to any fans of hard SF and ripping yarns who may have had the misfortune to not have read any Reynolds yet.

Now I have to find Zima Blue and Other Stories, his second collection, this time of a selection of his non-Revelation Space short fiction. Hopefully, some of these days, we’ll finally see all of his short fiction collected in book form.