SLOW BULLETS

PrintE-mail Written by Tony Jones

BOOK REVIEW: SLOW BULLETS / AUTHOR: ALASTAIR REYNOLDS / PUBLISHER: TACHYON / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 9TH

Running at around 192 pages, Alastair Reynolds long novella (40,000 words) Slow Bullets is an odd read. Modern readers are used to being spoiled with hundreds of pages of narrative, character development, prose and a sense of bulk. With this story, Alastair Reynolds needs to tread a middle ground between the economy of the short story and the enjoyment of rounding out characters and plot over screeds of text.

Fans of Alastair Reynolds’s Revelation Space stories will recognise much of the world of Slow Bullets; much but not all. The central figure (but not quite hero) is Scur, a soldier from the dying days of a war in our far future whose last act was to be caught and tortured by enemy soldier Orvin. The story shifts without warning to Scur waking up from cryo-sleep on board the spaceship Caprice. Here we have something different – in this world it is possible to travel faster than light, though this is not without its perils.

Over the rest of the story several ideas are joined together, including survival, revenge, system engineering, entropy, alien super races and religious intolerance. Hovering across all of the concepts is the slow bullet of the title – a sophisticated piece of technology that can be injected into a person and set to tunnel its way towards any part of the body at any speed and with as much or as little pain as the programmer desires. All soldiers have these as they act like dog tags recording the whole history and identity of each of them.

Although the story does come together, it does have a tendency to jump between ideas. There is enough imagination in Slow Bullets to have created at least one modern-length book and, even though Slow Bullets is a good read, many will reach the end and wish there had been more.

Tachyon Press are releasing Slow Bullets on June 9th in all the usual formats and any fan of Alastair Reynolds work should pre-order now.
 

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