06 February 2010

SF Signal Meme: What Book Are You Reading Now?

I haven't done something like this before, but thought I would follow the meme started by John DeNardo at SF Signal, What Book Are You Reading Now?

(1) What book are you reading now?
Redemption Ark, by Alastair Reynolds.

(2) Why did you choose it?
Last year, I read and loved Revelation Space and Chasm City, so I want to continue with and finish Reynolds' Revelation Space trilogy (Absolution Gap is on deck). As well, I am now a dedicated fan of Reynolds' work, so I want to see if I can get caught up with all his novels in the next, say, year or there about. Finally, after recently reading some Earth-based, near-future SF (Beggars in Spain, Snow Crash), I was in the mood for a far-future space opera.

(3) What's the best thing about it?
I'm just about 100 pages in, so obviously I can't speak to the novel as a whole, but Reynolds is doing in Redemption Ark what I enjoyed in Revelation Space: shifting between a variety of point-of-view characters, moving the reader not just among different perspectives but different parts of the setting (geographically, politically, historically) ... not to mention different subjective timelines. Though it's early chapters yet, I'm already curious about the relationships and tensions between the Conjoiners and Demarchists, because the characters are intriguing, distinct. Then there's Reynolds' always fascinating far-future tech and neo-cyberpunk sensibility.

(4) What's the worst thing about it?
Again, I'm only about 100 pages in, but I will say that some of the shifts between different point-of-view characters are not signalled clearly enough, especially when they occur within the same chapter. I've found myself disoriented a couple of times (but I found my way quickly enough). Also, I'm not sure why, but it's taken me at least three or four attempts to start and make significant progress into each Reynolds novel I've read. I wonder if it's about becoming accustomed to Reynolds' style or about the density of information Reynolds establishes right away? Or, both? In any case, once I really get going, putting down a Reynolds novel is not easy.

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