From the author of the Revelation Space series comes a tale of interstellar war from the perspective of Scur, a tortured and battle weary soldier. She and several other prisoners from both sides of the conflict, soldiers and civilians alike, awake to find themselves on board the prisoner transport ship Caprice, which has become lost in space. One such passenger is enemy combatant, and Scur's torturer, Orvin. Soldiers, crew and civilians have to find a way of working together in order to survive, but with thoughts of vengeance towards Orvin and a barely contained bloodlust Scur finds this doubly difficult.
Alistair Reynolds' novella Slow Bullets is something of a departure from his usual offerings. It has similarities to his Revelation Space series but this adventure is very much a stand-alone tale set in its own universe. What Reynolds fans will find familiar however is his wonderfully developed characters. Scur is the narrator but just how reliable is she and are her observations actually hers or are they products of the conditioning she has gone through to make her an effective killing machine. There's also the characteristic razor sharp dialogue, attention to scientific detail and a plot that rattles along with nary a chance to draw a breath. Despite its sparse page count, and the fact that it is set hundreds of years in the future,
there is much in this novel that mirrors the bleak world view that currently prevails. Although it’s set against the backdrop of an all-consuming war with the collapse of civilisation imminent, it's also a story of hope that perhaps humankind can put aside its differences when the there is everything to lose.
The only flaw to this work is that there is clearly a full novel, or even series, just waiting to erupt from its novella confines. What were the reasons behind the war? How did civilisation take such a destructive path and just what becomes of the Caprice? All these points are worthy of further exploration and hopefully Mr. Reynolds will do just that at some point in the not too distant future.
SLOW BULLETS / AUTHOR: ALISTAIR REYNOLDS / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW