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Elysium Fire Hardcover – 30 January 2018
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- Publisher : Gollancz; 1st edition (30 January 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 488 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0575090588
- ISBN-13 : 978-0575090583
- Dimensions : 15.7 x 3.6 x 24.1 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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This is a sequel to Reynolds’ 2007 novel, the Prefect, now renamed Aurora Rising and features the same central character, Inspector Dreyfus of Panoply, the small consensual security force protecting the Glitter Band.
A wave of mysterious deaths has started to strike at random, and appears to be increasing exponentially. Panoply is racing to find the cause before panic sets in, threatening the cohesion of society. Their task is complicated by a populist agitator, seeking to encourage individual habitats to withdraw from the federal society binding them together. A separatist, who is also vastly wealthy while pretending to be a man of the people, is a clear pointer to this being part a growing thread of post-Brexit, post-Trump SF.
It is also, like Christopher Brookmyre’s recent Places in the Darkness, a very successful combination of genres. The background is a piece of excellent SF. The foreground is a top notch detective story.
Overall, Elysium Rising is a highly satisfying piece of work. It is well plotted with a tight, internally consistent narrative. It does what all good SF does. It creates a highly fantastical, speculative scenario, but then populates in with very human, credible characters.
While Reynolds’ recent Poseidon’s Children sequence were entertaining enough, his strengths lie in this darker, almost gothic universe.
I very much enjoyed this return to the Glitter Band, before the melding plague turns it into The Rust Belt. Tom Dreyfus is much as he was before, a bit more worn, a bit more careful. Sparver and Ng and Aumonier and others reappear, and have grown as well.
The plot starts out at a great pace, with two interwoven story threads: The current emergency, and a tale of two teens from 30 years or so before the current action. Perhaps you might think you have solved the central mystery at some point in the book (but you haven't), and the pieces of the puzzle are presented well in succession, gradually building a picture of the crime and it's origins.
By 3/4 of the way through the book, you realise that the ending is going to be more complex in it's origins than you might have first thought. The ending itself is a bit flat, a bit rushed, with an info-dump a la Agatha Christie summations - not my favourite way to come to a solution in a mystery.
As always, Reynolds' prose and plotting are good, his technology is wonderful, and the characters are interesting and sympathetic.
This is a grand addition to the Revelation Space we all love from Reynolds. 4.5-stars, minus 0.5 for the somewhat flat ending.
Notes and quotes:
Yet there was something different about it today –a kind of pearly glimmer to its details, an inherent lack of focus, as if he saw it through tear-stained eyes. Fine, glinting threads seemed to bind its elements, as if a spider had been crawling around it overnight, trying to fix a web to its endlessly shifting geometry.
A tale of hereditary power, of arrogance in the face of the inevitability of human flaws, of the hubris of kings, of the futile denial of entropy itself.
That was the trouble with having a gift, though –however fairly or unfairly it had been acquired. Sooner or later one felt obliged to use it.
The first Dreyfus novel was just over 500 pages long, but left the reader wanting more. It could have expanded easily by another 200 pages Sadly, the new novel featuring Dreyfus and the other Panoply operatives is about 100 pages shorter than its predecessor, but feels like it should have been another 100 pages shorter. As other reviewers have said, the pace plods, in an irritating, episodic style, resembling a TV cop show. The mystery is intriguing, but seems to unfold at an interminable snail's pace. This is the only Reynolds I have read where I felt an almost irresistible urge to skip over parts to get back to the more interesting bits.
When the focus is on Dreyfus, things are fine. The other characters Reynolds has revived from the first book just aren't as interesting. Parts of the plot are either badly explained, or don't make any sense. The denoument is quite spectacular, but the climactic showdown between the Voi twins, and its conclusion, is eerily reminiscent of the end of Cronenberg's 'Scanners' - again, the first time I have come across something in a Reynolds novel or story that didn't feel wholly original.
I will still look out for Reynolds work with interest, but - please - no more 'Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies'.
In some ways its just a detective story, but the context of the Revelation Space universe gives it an interesting twist. The ending itself is not entirely surprising, but satisfying nonetheless.
I would love Mr Reynolds to revive some of the edgier themes in this series - civilisation limiting, the ultras etc, but would certainly be content with another in the Dreyfus series.