Grade: Γ– A good or even fantastic book within the genre, possibly worth reading regardless of which genre’s you like, but has a setting or style that is likely to be unappealing to individuals who are not fans of a given genre. This is the highest grade that many very good books that are part of a series can receive, since series require an investment in reading that normally only appeals to fans of that genre.
Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days is a collection of two novellas by Alastair Reynolds. Each story stands alone, though is subtly linked to one another and to his Revelation Space series. To that end, it is an enjoyable book all on its own, but will probably be enjoyed more by those who are fans of his World.
Set in the 24th to 25th centuries, this is a Hard Science Fiction setting where interstellar travel exists, but is limited by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. To that end, space travel takes huge amounts of time, and is only endurable through stasis and time dilation. Nanotechnology has reached Ultratech levels, but has (or will) become limited by the horrible Melding Plague that causes it to effectively become cancerous in its growth.
Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days is an enjoyable pair of short fiction tales, each story standing on its own and highlighting some of Alastair Reynolds’ ability to combine his vivid imagination with hard(ish) science. The first story chronicles the repeated attempts by a team to try to penetrate a tower which is rumored to hold a secret of great value. The second tale takes place on a water-world inhabited by one of Reynolds most fascinating creations: a pattern juggler. Alone each story is enjoyable, but together they make a great volume.
The first story, “Diamond Dogs,” is probably the lesser of the two tales. Taken on its own, the plot is somewhat limited, and for me, the twist at the end really just wasn’t that big of a twist. Knowing what any fan of Reynolds already knows, however, the stakes are much higher than the character can guess. As a result, I think this fun story becomes much better if you have already read the Inhibitor series.
The second tale, “Turquoise Days” is very much the better of the two. It allows Reynolds to play with one of his more inventive creations, the Pattern Jugglers, and as such really brings much of his world to life. The Pattern Jugglers are a biotechnological set of organisms that recording the minds and memories of anyone who communes with them. As such they are vast reservoirs of information, though exactly how they came into being is not part of that information. This story follows a team that is trying to study them, and… well saying more will give away too much.
Though this book does not directly involve any characters from his other volumes, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Reynolds. Indeed, I would even suggest it for anyone who is interested in picking up some very entertaining novellas. They are very much Science Fiction, and so are unlikely to appeal to someone who does not enjoy it. If you do like Sci-Fi however, give this book a try.
- Absolution Gap, Alastair Reynolds (Orion Publishing, 2003) (sophyanempire.wordpress.com)
- Redemption Ark, Alistair Reynolds (Gollancz, 2002) (sophyanempire.wordpress.com)
- ‘At Budokan’ by Alastair Reynolds (everythingisnice.wordpress.com)
- Science fiction geeky? Tell that to Simon le Bon (guardian.co.uk)
- Solaris Rising (adamroberts.com)
- The 12 Blogs of Christmas: Eleven. Favourite Fiction of 2011. (paulcornell.com)
- Excession, Iain M. Banks (Orion, 1996) (sophyanempire.wordpress.com)
- Shorties (Geeky Holiday Songs, A North Korea Reading List, and more) (largeheartedboy.com)
- A reading list: Generation Ships (mentatjack.com)