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Century Rain

by Alastair Reynolds

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MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,762368,343 (3.72)80
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's too late--for the past and the future of two worlds.… (more)
  1. 20
    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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» See also 80 mentions

English (35)  French (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Áhugaverð saga þar sem mannkynið hefur lifað af tæknihamfarir eftir að hafa reynt að stjórna náttúruöflunum með nanótækni. Eftir að nanótilraunirnar mistókust og allar tilraunir til endurbóta gerðu bara illt verra þar til nanóvélarnar byrjuðu að eyða öllu lífi flýði mannkynið jörðina en skiptist þá í tvo hópa. Annar hlutinn afneitaði þessari hættulegu tækni á meðan hinn þróaði hana enn frekar. Sagan fjallar um afrit af jörðinni sem finnst og býður upp á möguleikann að bæta eða eyðileggja það sem hefur gerst og áunnist. En einhver öfl virðast hafa illt í hyggju og sitja á svikráðum. Framtíðarsagan gerist því að hluta til á jörðu sem á 6. áratuginum og verður að morðrannsókn og njósnasögu. ( )
  SkuliSael | Apr 28, 2022 |
I’ve read hundreds of science fiction works and at least a dozen penned by Alastair Reynolds. I’ve found him to be an outstanding writer of “hard” science fiction, one of the absolute best. Unfortunately, this is not science fiction, or is, at best, only marginally so.

To be honest, I’m not sure what it is. It has elements of time travel, alternative history, noir detective murder mystery, even a little Stephen King thrown in for effect. And yes, there are elements of science fiction, but not nearly the kind of hard science fiction that Reynolds is known for. It is not until the final 100 pages that we get the Alastair Reynolds that you may be familiar with through his other work.

Bottom line, if you are looking for science fiction, look elsewhere. If you enjoy the kind of noir detective fiction done best by such writers as Dashiell Hammett, you can find it done far better elsewhere. This just did not work for me.

As an aside, this is the second recent work, the other being Pushing Ice, that I felt was somewhat “bloated”, in need of editing. Both would have been more enjoyable had they been about 100 pages tighter. Perhaps this is a result of having read so many Reynolds books lately, but in any case, both stories dragged noticeably at times. Maybe it’s time to give Reynolds a rest. ( )
  santhony | Feb 2, 2021 |
For some reason I had missed this novel from Alastair Reynolds, published not long after the author’s famous Revelation Space saga, and once I read the synopsis of the story I was more than intrigued because it sounded quite unlike my previous experience with Reynolds’ works.

Century Rain is a story of two very different halves destined to mesh together: the first half follows humanity in the 23rd century, as it exists on arcologies in space, since Earth has been rendered uninhabitable by the Nanocaust, an extinction event that obliterated all life on the planet in one single, devastating sweep. Humans have divided into two factions, the Slashers, who embrace technology to the point of integrating it into their bodies, and the Threshers, who use technology but refuse to undergo such merging. Verity Auger is a Thresher archeologist trying to recover the vestiges of the past from ice-encrusted Earth and she is enrolled by her superiors for a very peculiar mission - not exactly on Earth but on a weird facsimile of it. Here the other half of the novel comes into play: scientists have discovered a sort of wormhole leading to a 1959 version of Paris, one where history followed a very different course, as the failed Nazi invasion of France did not develop into World War II and scientific progress seems to have been halted. In this alternate Paris, expatriate Wendell Floyd, a struggling jazz musician, makes ends meet by working as a private detective: the latest case he took concerns the suspicious death of a young woman, and in the course of his investigation he will cross paths with Verity Auger and discover a heinous plot concocted by some fringe elements in the Slasher faction.

Blending such different story-lines can deliver an intriguing novel, but in this case - much as I reasonably enjoyed the book - I’m afraid Reynolds fell somewhat short of the mark: I’ve come to believe that in trying to do too much he ultimately defeated the purpose of the idea, and that if he had stayed with only one of the narrative threads, Century Rain could have turned into a much more spectacular work. The future half of the novel shows us a fascinating view of humanity, relegated in space by the disaster that destroyed Earth, and trying to repossess what remains of the past while being still torn by internal conflicts that oppose two widely different ways of exploring one’s potential. Once the theme of the “bad” Slasher faction comes into play - even though its motivations remained a little cloudy for me - there is a great potential for showing the effects of unchecked technology and of the evolution of mankind outside of its birth world: unfortunately, this narrative thread became at some point bloated by huge info-dumps that slowed the pace considerably and, in my opinion, took much of the wind out of the book’s proverbial sails.

The alternate history half of Century Rain is the one that held the greatest appeal for me: here the pacing is much swifter, and following Floyd’s investigation it’s possible to learn much about this version of Paris, and the bleak political climate one can breathe there, where a xenophobic movement seems bent on creating a reign of oppression and fear that lays a dark veil on the City of Lights. I instantly connected with world-weary (but gifted with a quirky brand of humor) Wendell Floyd and his struggle to survive in a world where the music he loves is under threat of banishment, and where the ugliness of the Nazi Germany we know seems to seep, slowly but surely, into the gracefully lively Parisian atmosphere, under a different name and identity. And then there are the fascinating changes in the course of history: having missed WWII, this world did not experience the death toll of millions from the conflict, but on the other hand it did not enjoy the scientific progress fueled by wartime needs, and this version of Earth looks a little stagnant, a little… frayed around the edges, for want of a better definition.

Once the two threads merge, the story loses some of its steam and becomes mired in the sort of madcap adventure we usually see in the Bond movies, but without the tongue-in-cheek self-mockery that’s often part of that franchise. There are a few details that I struggled with as well, like Floyd’s too easy acceptance of the existence of a different temporal line a few centuries beyond his own: I would have expected a few problems with “future shock”, but there were none, not even when he finds himself in the wormhole-traveling contraption used by Verity to reach the alternate Paris. And then there is the romantic relationship between Verity and Floyd: while it starts well enough, with suspicion and mistrust from both parts, and then moves toward a tentative alliance laced with humorous repartees, I never felt a real connection between the two of them - it was as if we were being told the two were falling in love, not shown, and there was never a real feel of an emotional attachment between the two of them, to the point I wondered more than once if it had been put there just to check another item on a list.

It does not help, either, that the book feels too long - or rather, it indulges far too much on the kind of “as you know, Bob” exposition that often annoys me, and moves far too swiftly over items of interest like the way history changed, in the alternate Earth, after the failed invasion of France, or the origins and development of the Thresher and Slasher factions in the future.

Still, despite the length and pacing problems, Century Rain was a moderately enjoyable novel, although not on the same level as other Reynolds works - but at least I’m glad I explored this one as well. ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Nov 20, 2020 |
I suppose Reynolds can be admired for hinting at so many interesting ideas about existence and reality into his book, but he must be faulted for exploring very few of them. More importantly, while I was curious to find out what happens as a matter of plot, I was never sure for whom to root. Part of the problem lies at the twin-protagonist situation Reynolds attempts to create, and the relationship that develops between those protagonists. Focusing on just one of the two and allowing the reader more access to the thoughts and feelings of that one might have served us better -- as it is, I never felt all that affected by the love supposedly shared by the protagonists, and thus was hard pressed to care too much about (here is where the spoiler comes in) their eventual separation. I suppose Reynolds was aiming for something like what happens at the end of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, but he didn't pull it off.

Now, I've said all this bad stuff, but it was still somewhat compelling and packed with adventure. Both of our protagonists were sufficiently hard-boiled to satisfy my detective-story cravings, even if one of them was stifled in her expressiveness by a plot device for about half of the book. ( )
  wearyhobo | Jun 22, 2020 |
This might become one of my favorite Alastair Reynolds novels. Why? Because he manages to turn one hell of a tale out of a kitchen sink worth of ideas. Great characters, from an ex-jazz musician/gumshoe from an alternate-timeline 1959, to a complex archeologist 300 years in the future sifting through the remains of a nanotech-eaten Earth, to wormholes, body-snatching, one hellofacool mystery, with murder, Casablanca vibes, and a nail-biting space battle that reminded me of Iain M. Banks and Neal Asher in a huge way. Or, if I'm being literal to a fault, it reminded me of Alastair Reynolds at his best. :)

There's so much I could say about this book, but let me boil it down to the basics.

This particular Earth is caught in amber. Caught in a pre-nuclear, pre-computer state. And it is being kept that way. Was kept that way for 300 years until the future factions (heavy nanotech or purist humans) unlocked frozen Earth. Roll with this, Reynolds explains it all a lot better than me. :)

Enter in the conflicting factions to this lesser-tech Earth and follow the Noir gumshoe across Paris, murders, awesome alternate Earth worldbuilding, and fantastic characterizations.

Any one of these elements are noteworthy and a cool read, but Reynolds went all-out ambitious and tied EVERYTHING together in a huge way and I loved it. :) Really perfect for mystery lovers AND hardcore missile/laser beam fanatics. Oh, and horror fans, too. Creepy undead children. :) And didn't I mention body-hopping?

lol, I had too much fun with this. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alastair Reynoldsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carr, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fiore, AnnetteCover Designsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haas, DominiqueTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kempen, BernhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zahirovic, SandaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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's too late--for the past and the future of two worlds.

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