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Minireview: Galactic North, by Alastair Reynolds

Alastair Reynolds is best known for his novels, especially the “Revelation Space” loose series of books, but he’s also an excellent short story writer. This collection is his first (I’m not counting the dual-novella “Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days” book), and collects some of his older stories; some of them are precursors to ideas and themes he later expanded into novels.

I like Reynolds a lot in general, and the stories here are almost uniformly excellent. Some I had read earlier in Dezois’ “Best SF of the Year” collections; the excellent “A Spy in Europa” was one of these, as was the titular “Galactic North”. “Grafenwalder’s Bestiary” also seemed familiar, I think I’ve read it before. On the other hand, many of these stories were new to me and some were quite excellent (especially the tense “Nightingale”, where a covert team goes out to explore a “ghost ship” vanished during a war). The stories here are all in the same genre (hard scifi, with tinges of the “new British space opera” style), and are very much worth reading. Reynolds has always been an “idea man” and not always all that hot on deep characterization – in a way he’s the modern version of Arthur C. Clarke in that regard. The short story form plays up to his strengths, as it did for Clarke.

Excellent collection, recommended.

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