Thursday, March 22, 2018

Review: Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds

Title: Elysium Fire
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Pages: 408
Series: Prefect Dreyfus Emergency #2
Publisher: Gollancz
Published: 15 January 2018
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Review copy from publisher

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

One citizen died a fortnight ago. Two a week ago. Four died yesterday . . . and unless the cause can be found - and stopped - within the next four months, everyone will be dead. For the Prefects, the hunt for a silent, hidden killer is on . . .

Alastair Reynolds has returned to the world of The Prefect for this stand-alone SF mystery in which no one is safe. The technological implants which connect every citizen to each other have become murder weapons, and no one knows who or what the killer is - or who the next targets will be. But their reach is spreading, and time is not on the Prefects' side.

After more than a decade Alastair Reynolds returns to the world of The Prefect and it's about damn time! Elysium Fire is set two years after the events of The Prefect (recently relaunched as Aurora Rising) and follows Prefect Dreyfus and his team Thalia Ng and Sparver Bancal as they face another threat to the stability of the Glitter Band. All across the ten thousand habitats citizens are dropping dead without warning. There is seemingly no connection between the victims, the rising death-toll threatens to push the already strained relations between the Prefects and the citizenry to the breaking point. It is up to Dreyfus and his team to figure out what is going on and to put a stop to it before it is too late.

All the familiar characters we've grown to love return for this second outing. The characters are older and wiser, scarred by their previous actions they are more conflicted and yet this makes them even more determined to carry out their mandate of upholding the tenets of the democracy that allows the Glitter Band to function.

Elysium Fire is a far more intimate story in scope, the relationships and interactions between Dreyfus and his team takes the forefront as they struggle to make sense of this newest emergency. While the first novel focused on a larger scale with ever-expanding implications, Elysium Fire takes a much more personal route. It is the actions of a few that puts the Glitter Band in jeopardy, but it is also the actions of the small team of Prefects willing to take a final stand that makes all the difference.

"And while a single one of us still breathes, you'll know there's still someone willing to make that final stand. Still Someone guarding the gates of utopia." (p 290) 

When I first read The Prefect I was amazed with the scope of it all and Elysium Fire takes that groundwork and sketches in even more intricate details.  Reynolds plays around with some truly breathtaking ideas - the machinery of governance and democracy, policing a society distributed throughout thousands of habitats, artificial intelligence, identity and the implications of altering memories. I could go on, but suffice it to say that there's a lot to unpack and the technologies underpinning it all are simply astounding.

As the mystery is slowly unraveled Dreyfus and his team manage to connect seemingly disparate clues and events to uncover the truth of an unexpected atrocity at the very center of everything. The ending ties up everything in a satisfying manner and it is heartening to see Dreyfus's compassion shining through at the end.

Elysium Fire was a great return to a world I never truly left behind. Having recently re-read The Prefect (Aurora Rising) it felt like coming home. Let's hope we don't have to wait another ten years for the next installment.I suddenly have the urge to read the entire Revelation Space series again...

The Verdict:
Elysium Fire is triumphant return for Alastair Reynolds to the world of Prefect Dreyfus. It takes a far more personal look at Dreyfus and the Prefects as they face the world in the aftermath of the Aurora event. The pacing is slower than the first novel, but it allows more time to engage with the characters on a deeper level. If you love big ideas, amazing technologies and concepts which will set your brain abuzz then Elysium Fire is highly recommended.

The Rating: 7.5/10 (Very Good)

Thanks to Charlene from Jonathan Ball Publishers for the review copy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

New Arrivals: Birthday Edition

While the plan is to cut back severely on my book purchases during the year to focus on titles I already own I decided to spoil myself somewhat during my birthday month. I picked up a few novels and  a couple of graphic novels. If you don't spoil yourself who will?

For Review

I was also fortunate enough to receive some review copies from the awesome folks at Jonathan Ball Publishers.

The titles I received were:
Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds
Shroud of Eternity by Terry Goodkind
The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye by David Lagercrantz
Hero At The Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

I've already finished Elysium Fire (a review will be up later this week), but since the rest are later titles in a series I'll first have to track down the rest of the series before I can consider getting to them.