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Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds
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2,230362,889 (4.02)86
Member:randalhoctor
Title:Chasm City
Authors:Alastair Reynolds
Info:Gollancz (2008), Edition: paperback / softback, Paperback, 640 pages
Collections:Your library
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Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds (2001)

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English (32)  French (3)  Dutch (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
fantastic re-read, as ever, the unfurling of how the city grew up is wonderful in it's details, and the stories of the machine race chilling and yet seemingly inconsequential here but foreshadowing the later books in the universes and adding depth.
The lost memory trick works here as a story device precisely because it is so multi-levelled, not a singular plot denouement. ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
Alastair Reynolds’ tome ‘Chasm City’ isn’t my usual fare, but I gave it a try because it was so highly recommended by an old colleague, and I have to say, it made for enjoyable reading. The story is really two parallel stories; in the first, a professional assassin is chasing another man across a vast amount of space, from one world to another, because of murders committed in the past. The world they get to has been decimated by a virus which caused all of the various micro-machines in society, including those within buildings and bodies, to go haywire, and lawlessness now reigns. The assassin suffers from partial amnesia and his own life is gradually revealed to him quite effectively by Reynolds, and it goes far beyond simply recalling forgotten things. The second story from centuries before is told in flashbacks he sees possibly because of the virus, and is about how the first of those worlds was colonized by Earth, starting with a flotilla of spaceships making a multi-generational flight across space. The ships become rivals over the years, there are creepy secrets they come across in space, and the son of one of the ship’s officers grows up innocently enough at first, but turns marvelously dark along the way. The first time we see a character known as Clown advising him is truly chilling, and great.

I loved how realistic the novel was in its characters, none of which are simply good or evil, and also for humanity, who we see still being cruel to one another hundreds of years in the future. The technical advancements conceived by Reynolds have that element of truth to them, and he’s highly creative in extrapolating what advances in genetics and nanotechnology could lead to. Unfortunately he gets mired in some stilted dialogue at times, questionable character motivation, and an ending that isn’t completely satisfactory, though one part of it is very cool, and the stories do come together. Overall, quite solid, and worth reading. ( )
1 vote gbill | Apr 22, 2016 |
“I’ve been sent here to kill someone who probably doesn’t deserve it, and my only justification for it is some absurd adherence to a code of honour no one here understands or even respects.”While reading the book I was a little bothered by the protagonist's motivation which did not make a lot of sense to me. Suddenly Alastair Reynolds addressed my problem directly and things begin to fall into place. This book is a very intricately plotted sf novel with strong element of a noir thriller, but the emphasis is definitely on the sci-fi. On the face of it, the book may initially seem like a straightforward story of revenge. The main character Tanner Mirabel is chasing a man who killed his best friend and the love of his life but made the mistake of leaving him alive. The chase requires quite a bit of interstellar travel, part of which is even on a space elevator which brings to mind Arthur C. Clarke’s [b:The Fountains of Paradise|149049|The Fountains of Paradise|Arthur C. Clarke|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344265959s/149049.jpg|734510] . The structure of the book is almost linear but not quite, as two different stands of flashback sequences are also woven into the main story arc. In lesser hands this sort of skipping back and forth along the timeline can cause a lot of confusion for the readers, but kudos to Mr. Reynolds for the clarity of his writing, even without any chapter labeling the reader is never confused.

In spite of the crime fiction influence the sci-fi aspect of the story is thankfully the strongest element. Reynolds is at the forefront of the sf genre for a reason, here is an author who is seemingly put upon the earth to write sf, it is either coded in his DNA or God is a sf fan, take your pick. While the story is not epic in scale as it mainly focuses on the protagonist’s adventures it is set in a brilliantly imagined universe. Chasm City is set in the **Rev space** universe but is not a continuation of that book. It is basically a standalone with brief mentions of some things from that book. Most of the book is set in the titular Chasm City, an amazing place where buildings and machinery are infected with a plague that infect nanomachines and mutate them into weird nightmarishly shaped things. What it does to people I will leave you to discover for yourself.

What makes Reynolds stand out from most other sf writers today is that he can spin a great yarn, he knows his science very well, and he cares about creating believable and interesting characters with real motivations. Most importantly for sf, he is extremely good at world building, creating astounding yet believable and vivid places and life forms, if you are looking for escapism he is your man.

There are quite a few scientists who are writing sf but (IMO) Reynolds is the best story teller and prose stylist among them. His characters do not simply wear white hats or black hats, they tend to have quite believable motivations. His prose is accessible without coming across as having been dumbed down for the semi-literates. He even slipped in the occasional flashes of humor, mostly through ironic dialogues, and the end of the book even includes some lyrical passages.

Who would I recommend this book to?

You.

Basically you, who is reading this review. If you are interested enough to read this review this far this book is for you! ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Tanner Mirabel, who I would deem an assassin by trade, is after the man who killed his boss. As he zooms in on his target, events begin to unfold which include memories induced by a virus which cause him to doubt his mission, as well as his own existence. Plunging into the storyline, one is reminded of events of Blade Runner, as well as the weirdness of a Gilliam's Brazil. The story raps up nicely, but not before the reader is taken on a journey where he/she wonders why they read the novel, or where the hell it's going to end up. I am honored to have finished this book, but I have to admit that I was taken on a journey of wonder, self-doubt, and satisfaction at the end. Perhaps I have experienced the genius of Alastair Reynolds without being fully aware of it. I would advise future readers to keep a WIDE open mind when tackling this adventure. ( )
  utbw42 | Jul 10, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alastair Reynoldsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carr, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Darkness was falling as Dieterling and I arrived at the base of the bridge.
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Book description
Tanner Mirabel was a security specialist who never made a mistake - until the day a woman in his care was blown away by Argent Reivich, a vengeful young postmortal. Tanner's pursuit of Reivich takes him across light-years of space to Chasm City, the domed human settlement on the otherwise inhospitable planet of Yellowstone. But Chasm City is not what it was. The one-time high-tech utopia has become a Gothic nightmare: a nanotechnological virus has corrupted the city's inhabitants as thoroughly as it has the buildings and machines. Before the chase is done, Tanner will have to confront truths which reach back centuries, towards deep space and an atrocity history barely remembers.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441010644, Mass Market Paperback)

In a city overrun by a virus that attacks both man and machine, an agent pursues a lowlife postmortal-and uncovers a centuries-old atrocity that history would rather forget...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:50 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Tanner Mirabel was a security specialist who never made a mistake, until the day a woman in his care was blown away during an attack by a vengeful young postmortal named Argent Reivich.

(summary from another edition)

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