Continuing with my reading of my stock of unread Alastair Reynolds books. Century Rain is, I think, his first published novel not in the Revelation Space universe. It’s an interesting mix of a bit of alternate history, detective novel and nanocaust. He seems to be coming up against the singularity problem: how to write interesting fiction that’s accessible to human 1.0 readers about human 2.0+ characters. He falls back on the discovered alien ruins for a major plot macguffin as well. A similar “network” of FTL travel systems that various others have used (Cherryh’s Gates from Morgain, Zahns “Night Train to Rigel” being the two that come straight to my mind but there are plenty of others). As befits a stellar physicist his system has more detail about how it operates (not how it works, but how it’s used) that most of the others.

A story which cracks along at an intense pace for all of its 500 pages combining some compelling human drama along with whiz-bang pyrotechnics and interesting science speculations on the links between the very large and very small scales of physics. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the last sentence which seemed unnecessary and rather against character for that protagonist. I’d have preferred that line to be left as unwritten, though the consideration that led up to it could have been left in. I think that kind of unfinished thought would have also given more weight to the possibility of a “frozen in time” outcome as well. That may have just been me, though.