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Galactic North (Gollancz S.F.) [Hardcover]

Alastair Reynolds
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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'You realise you might die down there,' said Warren. Read the first page
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4.0 out of 5 stars Revelation Space Compass Feb. 20 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Alastair Reynolds presents eight stories from his Revelation Space universe. They are a good introduction to this universe and some of its defining early history. Readers encounter his various techno-socio-political factions--Conjoiners, Demarchists, Ultras, and such--and enough background to jump less painfully into his longer novels.

My two favorites:

"Glacial" stands alone as a classic science fiction mystery. We look over Nevil Clavain's shoulder as he puzzles out the reason everyone on a remote, ice-covered planet suddenly died. As a fan of other Nevil Clavain stories, I have conflicting feelings about encountering Nevil, Galiana and Felka as an odd, but close-knit little family.

"Nightingale" smuggles us along as a carefully-picked assault team works to bring a war criminal to justice. Any mission the whole team can walk away from is a success, is it not?

This book is recommended to science fiction fans, particularly those who enjoy hard science fiction and complex space opera. It is required reading for Alistair Reynolds fans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Don't read this one if your not familiar with the universe of this author. Even being a great fan of Alastair Reynolds, "Galactic North" was not so great. It didn't enrapture me like his greater works have. Some stories were more gripping then others. Some had hidden elegance that was not revealed until you had finished and reflected upon it. Do buy and read it if you love this author's work but this shouldn't be your first or even second Alastair Reynolds book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Future in Smaller Doses April 27 2008
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on
Galactic North (2006) is a collection of SF stories set in the Revelation Space universe. It contains eight stories and an Afterword by the author.

Great Wall of Mars is a Conjoiner story about Nevil Clavain and Galiana in the home nest. Glacial relates another Clavain and Galiana tale about a failed outsystem colony. A Spy in Europa recounts a Demarchist tale about an enemy agent who gives his all. Weather describes the rescue of a Conjoiner from a pirate ship and how she returns the favor.

Dilation Sleep tells of a refugee from Yellowstone who operates on a crewmember with the Melding Plague. Grafenwalder's Bestiary features a collector of rare beasts in the Yellowstone Rust Belt. Nightingale is about a mission to retrieve a Sky Edge war criminal from a lost hospital ship. Galactic North takes a ramliner captain on a millennia long pursuit of a pirate ship.

These stories convey various short subjects within the RS milieu. It covers all the several technological/political groups found within the novels, but develops their characteristics in greater detail. Since the novels are packed with strange technologies and politics, this collection makes a great introduction to the longer works. Enjoy!

Highly recommended for Reynolds fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of lightspeed ships, exotic technology and outsystem colonies.

-Arthur W. Jordin
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short stories set in the Revelation Space universe June 7 2007
By Woofdog - Published on
This review may contain spoilers.

This book presupposes some familiarity with the Revelation Space series, as some stories lose a lot of their meaning or significance if you don't understand persons or events referred to. Others depend much less on any familiarity with RS.

Along with the recent publication of The Prefect, Alistair Reynolds has begun publishing in the RS universe again. Stories here include background stories on Nevil Clavain, Felka, and Galiana, stories set in the Sol System, a story set on Yellowstone post-plague, one on Sky'e Edge, and a somewhat bizarre story which finally gives more than a name to Greenfly, (which was tossed into the very end of Absolution Gap with no explanation whatsoever, one of several defects in that title,) though the temporal telescoping in the last story reminds me more of something Poul Anderson might have written.

I wonder if Reynolds himself had decided on the origin of greenfly when Absolution Gap was published; the 4-page epilogue which substituted for actual resolution of that book gives few if any clues...

This is an enjoyable collection, well worth getting!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something of a Revelation June 26 2010
By sft - Published on
Galactic North is redolent of some of the best space opera from the 50s and 60s. Reynolds's nicely-honed baroque pulp fiction is brimming with inventiveness and is grandiose in scope. He creates convincing worlds that you will want to explore and technologies that are truly ingenious. His writing style is evocative while remaining clear and controlled. My two reservations are that his characters are rather clichéd and the denouements are sometimes disappointing. The bottom line, however, is that this is an entertaining and well-written book. I shall be reading more. And that says something, as space opera is a genre I'm not normally partial to.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sprinkling of Gems July 28 2008
By Avid Reader - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although Reynolds is best know for his detailed, long and literate space operas, I found this collection of related tales quite satisfying. Think of a series of vignettes stringing into the future with occasional references to the past and that's the nature of this book. Each tale is a complete story in itself although knowing a little background is helpful.

Many of the stories are simply mysteries to be solved; others highlight a new direction for mankind or choices we will one day be forced to make. All of them draw the reader into the action and the characters until, at the end, a sort of surrealistic haze covers the landscape. He has gone beyond words and yet there they are, describing almost unimaginable creatures and events. Yet, after all is said and done, after all the smart matter, new intelligences, nanotech, discovery of the inner secrets of the universe, it is still the human relationship that excites and drives and makes us want to read more.

My Grade: A
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stories From A Talented Scifi Writer April 19 2011
By themarsman - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Galactic North is a compilation of eight stories set in the Revelation Space universe. Each of the eight stories has Reynolds' unique fingerprint...dark, frequently noir-ish, often goth-esque scifi tales brimming with far future human cultures spread through numerous star systems and their -- both good and ill -- interconnection with advanced technology.

Amongst my favorite stories in this collection is Weather, which details the rescue of a Conjoiner separated from the rest of her collective and how she helps a stranded lighthugger get out of a sticky situation. This tale also elaborates on and gives us some much desired details of the mysterious Conjoiner drive that has allowed Humanity to approach near-light speed and thus colonize multiple star systems in a relatively short period of time...a mere few centuries.

Also amongst my favorites is Grafenwalder's Bestiary, which tells the story of illicit collector of all things organic and rare, Carl Grafenwalder. His penchant for collecting anything living that is exceptionally rare or virtually unique leads him on a quest -- a quest that he himself doesn't always understand -- for a creature that is thought to be only a myth. But his hunt for this creature of quasi-myth leads Grafenwalder into a predicament he never could have imagined.

Reynolds acknowledges in the afterward that some of the stories featured in this collection were written very early in the evolutionary process of developing his Revelation Space universe. Because a handful of these stories were written almost two decades before publication of this collection, it makes the author's growth as a writer especially stark. His earliest stories show promise (amongst them, Dilation Sleep, the earliest published work in Reynolds' Revelation Space setting), but there is definitely a clear demarcation between his earliest works and his more later material. Which isn't necessarily a bad see an author's growth in his craft. But nonetheless, I couldn't help wishing that some of the stories had been fleshed-out a bit more. None of this detracts from what the author has created, an artfully constructed future history with its own personalities, cultures and worlds that -- when everything is said and done a few thousand years from now -- may end up being remarkably like what Humanity's actually expansion into the galaxy may look like. Alastair Reynolds has crafted a universe where the dilapidated and the vaunted nest side by side together; a universe where the believable and the extreme are merely two sides of a coin that Reynolds has tossed madly into the air...gyrating and gesticulating wildly, I am enjoying the coin's arc through space...directly towards me.
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