Monday, June 08, 2015

Review: Deep Navigation

Deep Navigation is a collection of Alastair Reynolds' short stories. His most recent novels have gotten very mixed reviews (plus are part of a trilogy that aren't complete yet), but this collection of short stories is excellent.

Many of them date from earlier in his career, which means that there's a lot of science, and there's relatively little character development. On the other hand, that's what I enjoy most about Alastair Reynold's fiction, so for me, it's a feature, not a bug. (Most of the criticism of his latest work is due to too much mucking about with characters and too little science)

Some of the greats for me include "Stroboscopic", a story about a board game based on some very alien biology. "Viper" explores the idea of using dream-like virtual reality to determine the psychological states of "reformed" criminals. "The Star Surgeon's Apprentice" is an unusual story about pirates in space, and "Fury" is an excellent robot story.

A look at the credits page explained to me why I've encountered none of these stories before: most of them are published in English (as in United Kingdom) magazines or anthologies, with only one story previously published in Asimov's Science Fiction. As a result, even if you are a big Reynolds fan and have subscription to the most popular American Science Fiction magazines you're unlikely to have encountered any in this collection.

If you've never read Reynolds before and have time for a novel, I would recommend starting with Revelation Space. But if you only have bite-sized chunks of time, this collection is a great start and will leave you hungry for more. It is priced well at $6.99.


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