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Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds

Chasm City

by Alastair Reynolds

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Revelation Space (2)

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2,528423,830 (4.03)100
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. Before the chase is done, Tanner will have to confront truths that reach back centuries, toward deep space and an atrocity history barely remembers.… (more)

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English (36)  French (3)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
After I read the author’s Revelation Space, I was conflicted as to whether to proceed to Chasm City, which is listed a volume two of a series. Revelation Space was maybe the “hardest” science fiction work I’ve read in the last ten years (maybe some Charles Stross works approach it), and the complexity was a little over the top. However, I’d already purchased the first three volumes, so I proceeded to volume two, and I’m glad I did.

While Chasm City is set in the same “universe” as Revelation Space, it is far more approachable and enjoyable, in my opinion. Part of this may be the underlying familiarity provided by the earlier book, but it is also definitely less reliant upon an underlying knowledge of quantum mechanics. Make no mistake, there is an abundance of hard science fiction in this work, as much as I’ve read almost anywhere, however, not the the extent of Revelation Space, and that’s a good thing.

While this is volume two, and set in the same universe, there is very little tie in with the events of Revelation Space. You could certainly read this as a stand-alone novel, but while it is far better, it probably benefits the reader to be familiar with the setting as provided by the earlier work. In any event, I am somewhat shocked that I never read these books earlier (they are roughly 2000 vintage), as I have read hundreds of science fiction books, and this is certainly very well written science fiction.

I would question some of the author’s choices as it relates to life in the far distant future. For example, several characters in his universe chain smoke cigarettes. While I don’t doubt that the future will have its share of narcotics and mood altering drugs, I highly doubt that burning cigarettes in a space environment will make the leap into far distant planetary systems. That these were written prior to the advent of vaping does not excuse the author from what I think it a pretty silly extension of current custom. Other such “mistakes” include the existence of paper money, wrist watches, coffee and leather. Many science fiction writes of even older vintage have done away with all or most of these current items. ( )
  santhony | Dec 4, 2019 |
How far down can you bring the science in science-fiction before it becomes simply fiction? For instance, if we image a world were exploration of the moon never ceased, and wherein this exploration led to development and a permanent society but stayed within the context of current existing technology, is this science-fiction? Or is science-fiction simply described as anything different than what actually exist technologically? Where does a military drone, with A.I. on the level of the most advanced video game fall? Where does that which is imagined in contemporary fiction end and science fiction begin? At the same time I love (some) Arthur C. Clarke novels as much as I love (some) Alastair Reynolds. One will teach you something incredibly important and clever and the other will use every ounce of illusion to provide blistering entertainment of the kind that has every right to be regarded as significant as any SF. Cosy SF is pointless. It is based on taking an arbitrary point in development and stopping there as if no advancement is made past that point. It is more artificial to create Mundane than futuristic because there is no evidence technology will come to a stopping point. I read SF to be inspired with the grand and the yet to be. If I want what is and has been I can read History. One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. Solar flare might crop up, cook us in our seats. And wait until you're sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles, see if you're still so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding. Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence. A lot of the "I-want-Space-Opera-vastness" turns out to just be a cry for something as simple as, say, Alentejo, or maybe Trás-os-Montes, but painted in very big letters and blocks; the lives of quadrillions of people who speak a billion languages are not more interesting than the lives of million of people who speak thousands of languages; for story purposes they're the same thing with six more zeros. Good Space Opera is not so much about plausibility as it is about ceasing to mindlessly buy into tropes that have been extant for 60 years or more. You don't want FTL? Fine. You don't want "Wait Calculation"plot devices in your SF (Sky Haussmann's spaceships periodically receive data from their point of origin with details on how to upgrade their ships and engines, i.e., later launched ships beat the earlier launched ones is a pretty standard SF trope)? Fine too. Are you sure cryosleep can even work? What are you going to do if it doesn't? You don't think aliens can eat carrots, or “ever” live on Earth even though they breathe oxygen, because microorganisms will clog up whatever they use for lungs? Cool. GO MAKE UP SOME NEW SHIT. Stop depending on those old old old ideas as though they were a suit of clothes or a reliable classic car. What baffles me when I think of Alan Turing, is that he wanted to create a machine that could think and be smart, he thought of that in a world where there was none of that, he created machines and started that road of discovery. Today, we have computers and smartphones, and the only think that I find closer of what Alan Turing was pursuing, are the algorithms that detect your pattern of likes and dislikes in a web browser and make suggestions to you. We are so far in having that Artificial Intelligence that still the "Turing Test" is valid. I wonder if he were to be alive in this era, how disappointed he would be, the machines that can think only exist in SF. The same happens with the Space Elevator that both Clarke (and Reynolds) use. In Reynolds' case the stupid first chapter almost made me abandon it. A space elevator? 1st floor: Perfumes, 2nd floor: Ladies Footwear, ..., 5th thousandth floor: Roof top Observation Deck and Smokie Joe's Cigar Emporium and Smoking Area. Ever play "crack the whip" as a kid? A wind storm, even a moderate one, at the base would whip that thing around and snap everything off at the top. Plus. You can't use centrifugal force at that height with the (Earth or any other planet or structure) rotating as slowly as it does. Attach vast ball of string to same? Let earth's gravity pull on the ball and it will thus unravel as it descends? Intrepid astronaut-to-be catches flailing end of string and commences climb. (Where's a patent-office when one needs one?) Nope. The string has mass unfortunately. How long does a piece of string have to be before it snaps under it's own weight? A lot less than 23,000 miles...The original space elevator proposed by Arthur C. Clarke (Kim Stanley Robinson has also used elevators to low earth orbit in his Mars trilogy) has the center of mass at the geostationary orbit. For the cable to be able to support itself and the payload, the weight needed depends on what material the cable is made of. For steel, the weight needed exceed the weight of the known universe, for carbon fiber, the weight is about the weight of the moon. For nanotubes and graphene sheet, the weight is only a few thousand tons. We still have a long way to go to manufacture a real cable using these new materials. I'm not saying SF shouldn't use far-out concepts, but please. When I was fourteen and walked into the Praça de Chile library and saw Clarke's "The City and the Stars" it was the entirely abstracted city that caught my eye. I say nay to the strictures of delimiting. Let that hyperdrive fire up, Buck. Let's FLY...I prefer thinking "Chasm City" is all about redemption to avoid getting tangled up in the details.... ( )
  antao | Aug 17, 2019 |
Amazing dark space opera, with a story spanning large time period and exploring very baroque places. The story has a lot of unexpected twists and characters are very believable, vivid and evolving on their way. It almost feels like there are powerful, mysterious and unstoppable forces pushing the action forward. The story is about a mercenary, Tanner Mirabel who is on a mission to avenge his former employer. Besides his mission, he also starts getting strange dreams about the expeditions that settled his home planet, in the early days of space colonization. Alien civilizations, memory loss and recovery, viruses that infect buildings all are intertwined to make a great story ( )
  vladmihaisima | Feb 25, 2019 |
This book had one great thing going for it, I did not want to put it down. It reminded me of some of Peter F. Hamilton's scifi - complicated, advanced science set in a complex and colorful world. This is really the story of one confused man, pursuing a vendetta against another across space and time. The setting, Chasm City, is a domed city on a world with a hostile atmosphere but a strangely convenient canyon that provides easily available atmosphere to those living in the dome. It is also the site of a strange cyber-biotic plague that destroys cyber enhancements or makes them go berserk. Chasm City is a highly divided society - the poor do without cyber in The Muck while the rich manage to deal with the plague in The Canopy.
Overall, I found this to be a very interesting sci-fi thriller, with some societal commentary thrown in. At times I was puzzled about why he'd put Chasm City together the way he did and I'm not certain I bought his redemption theory, but it definitely was fun to read.
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  Karlstar | Jan 15, 2019 |
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Chasm City
Series: Revelation Space #2
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 708
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis: Spoilers

Tanner Mirabel wakes up with his memories scrambled. All he really knows is that he has to track down and kill one Argent Reivich, the man who killed his boss and boss's wife. Tanner is now on Chasm City, light years from Sky's Edge and he is without allies, without money and without much information. Thankfully, his memory is slowly coming back.

Tanner gets involved in problems on Chasm City when he's kidnapped and used for a Hunt. The rich immortals living on Chasm City are bored and the Hunt is one way they alleviate such boredom. Between some unexpected allies and his own military background, Tanner turns the tables and suddenly has some allies, some money and some serious firepower. Unfortunately, while his memory is returning, other memories are also returning, the memories of Sky Haussman, the founder of Sky's Edge. Which is impossible as Sky was crucified and killed a LONG time ago. Maybe Tanner is just going insane.

Tanner tracks Reivich down to an asteroid where Reivich is undergoing a Deep Scan, one where he will destroy his body but upload his mind. During all of this more and more memories are returning and Tanner finds out that the real Tanner is hunting HIM. Tanner is Kahuella, a war criminal from Sky's Edge. There is a showdown between the two Tanners and “our” Tanner wins when he releases an unknown ability, the ability to bite with envenomed fangs and kills the original Tanner. ALL of “our” Tanner's memories come crashing back and he realizes he is Sky Haussman and that the dreams of Haussman he's been having aren't from a bio-plague but true memories.

Tanner chooses to remain as Tanner and start a security company on Chasm City and give the Hunt the set of rules we are familiar with from the previous book.

My Thoughts:

In-freaking-credible! I enjoyed this read so much that I'm not really sure what to focus on. The only downside I guess.

I didn't give this 5stars because I'm not sure how this will hold up to a re-read. 75% of the tension was not knowing what was going on with Tanner and his memories and now that I know, I don't know how that will affect future re-reads. And that is it.

This had everything I wanted in a good Science Fiction story. Aliens, sentient and otherwise, weapons of mass destruction and little weapons, a grand amount of fighting and death and carnage that really racks up the body count. It was very similar to a Polity novel but Alastair's style is so different from Neal Asher that there is NO mistaking the difference or feeling that you're retreading territory.

The Sky Haussman episodes felt very much like history lessons but there was enough intrigue going on that it didn't come across as boring info dumps. I have to admit though, most of the time info dumps don't bother me, except when they do. I still haven't figured out what the difference is though.

Alastair handles the time differentials skillfully. This book pretty much takes place at the same time as Revelation Space and so we get ties to make that book slightly fuller and here we find out information to make a re-read of RS richer.

Tanner makes for a great character. He's driven, has a great skill set, has a conscience and still isn't above killing people who are gunning for him. Following him as he remembers things was great fun. The whole memory thing was wicked weird, as the very idea was unsettling. If the mind can be so easily mucked around with, nothing is then sacred. But then, most materialists believe that the mind is just a series of synapses and electrical responses that can be transposed onto another medium “once we know enough”.

Apparently this was a novella first before it was expanded to this full length novel. So check the length of the one you're reading if you're not sure. I read the full novel and am not sure I'd want to try this as a novella.

★★★★½ ( )
2 vote BookstoogeLT | Nov 7, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alastair Reynoldsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carr, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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