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Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds
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Century Rain

by Alastair Reynolds

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1,345295,736 (3.71)61
  1. 10
    Farthing by Jo Walton (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: If you liked the parts of this novel set in the alternate Paris, try Walton's set in a similar alternate London
  2. 00
    Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (Anonymous user)
  3. 00
    The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds (Anonymous user)
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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
★★★-3/4 rounded up to 4 stars.

Almost a solid 4-star read for me. The concept and world-building are just so damn cool. If it weren't for a few eye-rolling moments having to do with character motivation... For instance, the lovey-dovey stuff after the sphere falls on Floyd in the German factory scene just seemed suddenly grafted on. Not to mention that he is described as BLEEDING COPIOUSLY FROM HIS HEAD! Instead of getting all kissy-face with him, perhaps Auger should have done something else? Like, maybe try to STAUNCH THE BLEEDING?!? I'm not sure what Reynolds was thinking there. I don't have a problem with them falling in love, that seemed a likely eventuality from long before they actually met. It was the circumstance where they first expressed their affections that rang a dissonant note. Ah well... thankfully, most of the book is filled with better-written scenery and is therefore pretty darn brilliant.

Conceptually, the stuff Reynolds has dreamed up is rather mind-boggling:
- Archaeological digging in the midst of nanobot 'Furies'? Check!
- A noir detective murder whodunit mystery? Check!
- Wormholes leading to ALS's (Anomalous Large Structures) - a galactic subway system! - all left behind by technologically advanced but unknown creators? Check!
- Political intrigues between factions of humans still alive after the nanocaust? Check! (hrmm... who to trust? who to trust?)
- Off-Earth habitats in the year 2266 interacting with Earth in 1959? Check! (nope, not by time-traveling - this whole part is just beautifully imagined.)
- War-babies? Check! (oh man, were they ever a nice creepy touch!)
- A super-duper secret planet-killing weapon mystery that needs to be solved before the world goes nano-boom? Check!
- A Hollywoodish carspaceship-chase in wormhole space? Check!

All in all, I really liked this book. It was a great first Reynolds for me. I just wish some of the romantic aspects had been handled with a skosh more elegance. ( )
  ScoLgo | Oct 3, 2014 |
I loved this story, and was sad to find it was a standalone as upon finishing I immediately looked for the sequel. However, it is a complete story in itself. The book starts off as sci-fi thriller set 200 years in the future, where an Apocalypse has rendered earth a lifeless husk, and we are following the story of an archaeologist studying the wastelands of Paris. The story then switches to Paris of the 1950s, but not a 1950s we recognize, some things that should have happened by 1959 haven't.

The stories intertwine, and we are treated to a thriller where the main protagonist, aforementioned archaeologist, Verity Auger, has to complete a mission on this 1950s world as she has the knowledge of Paris at this time. She is a kick-ass character and Reynolds treats her to several near death experiences which left me on a rollercoaster ride of emotion, wondering if she, and the other characters I had come to care about with little, but careful, character development, were going to make it. Recommended.

Audio-book version:
I listened to the auido-book narrated by the British John Lee. He did an excellent job with the many female voices, and his narration was very even and I now associate Alastair Reynolds with John Lee's narration. ( )
1 vote wifilibrarian | Feb 3, 2014 |
In this standalone story, Alastair Reynolds manages to squeeze multiple SF sub-genres together harmoniously, ensuring something entertaining for all readers. The premise is that a dormant snapshot 'backup' copy of the earth, accurately duplicating the 1936 moment when it was mysteriously created by aliens down to the last atom, has been discovered in deep space and it has been activated by one of the warring factions from the 24th century. Now, history progresses there under the subtle influence of hostile agents who prevent WW2 as a means of stifling the technological developments that might allow the inhabitants to resist the greater holocaust they have planned for them, in the pursuit of pristine real estate. The unlikely heroes are a 24th-century archeologist who specializes in pre-apocalypse excavations, and a down-on-his-luck private investigator who begins to see that something isn't quite right in his 1959.

Sound confusing yet? It actually settles in fairly gradually, and the two Earth timelines are well delineated. The primary three or four characters are also very rounded, and a lot more believable and flawed than commonly seen in such busy plots; The private investigator Wendell Floyd, for example, sees himself primarily as a struggling musician who takes on PI work between gigs, and sees the world in a very musical way. Verity Auger, the archeologist intervening in his world, consistently and stubbornly acts in a much braver manner than she herself asserts. I was surprised to read so little about the children she left behind for her mission, but which she claims are central to her motivations.

The miracle and threat of nanotechnology are central themes explored, and in nearly every scene in which it is employed, we see unique applications that I've not seen elsewhere, and I appreciated the expanding implications of its use. Notably absent are the expected frictions and misunderstandings of characters from such disparate cultures interacting, but a technological 'hand wave' introduced early on may explain this. The pacing picked up considerably in the final third of the story, when the setting shifts dramatically, but this corresponded nicely to the rising stakes in the conflict. All in all, an exciting and thought provoking novel that lives up to expectations from this excellent author. ( )
  SciFi-Kindle | Jun 4, 2013 |
This might be my favorite Al Reynolds yet. I enjoyed his take on the detective story juxtaposed with his quality of space opera. ( )
  chaosmogony | Apr 27, 2013 |
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The river flowing sluggishly under Pont de la Concorde was flat and grey, like worn-out linoleum.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441013074, Mass Market Paperback)

Three hundred years from now, Earth has been rendered uninhabitable due to the technological catastrophe known as the Nanocaust.

Archaeologist Verity Auger specializes in the exploration of its surviving landscape. Now, her expertise is required for a far greater purpose.

Something astonishing has been discovered at the far end of a wormhole: mid-twentieth century Earth, preserved like a fly in amber. Somewhere on this alternate planet is a device capable of destroying both worlds at either end of the wormhole. And Verity must find the device, and the man who plans to activate it, before it is too late—for the past and the future of two worlds…

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:15 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Three hundred years from now, Earth has been rendered uninhabitable due to the technological catastrophe known as the Nanocaust. Archaeologist Verity Auger specializes in the exploration of its surviving landscape. Now, her expertise is required for a far greater purpose. Something astonishing has been discovered at the far end of a wormhole: mid-twentieth century Earth, preserved like a fly in amber. Somewhere on this alternate planet is a device capable of destroying both worlds at either end of the wormhole. And Verity must find the device, and the man who plans to activate it, before it is too late - for the past and the future of two worlds" -- Cover verso.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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