Thursday, February 16, 2017

Slow Bullets - Alastair Reynolds

Sent to me by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: 16/02/17

Publisher: Gollancz

ISBN: 978-1473218420

Format: Hardback, 182pp

Genre: Science-Fiction

Rating: 4/5

Summed up in a word: Survival

First Impressions: Science fiction is one of the main reasons that I got into book blogging and it seems that I barely get a chance to read any at the moment so it was nice to dive back in. Slow Bullets is a novella by SF legend Alastair Reynolds. There is so much plot and definition packed into this small 182 page space survival adventure. Thank you to Stevie at Gollancz for sending me a review copy, it is always much appreciated. Gollancz are bringing us plenty of epic sci-fi/fantasy books in 2017, check out their book page at

Book Synopsis: From the author of the Revelation Space series comes an interstellar adventure of war, identity, betrayal, and the preservation of civilization itself.

A vast conflict, one that has encompassed hundreds of worlds and solar systems, appears to be finally at an end. A conscripted soldier is beginning to consider her life after the war and the family she has left behind. But for Scur—and for humanity—peace is not to be.

On the brink of the ceasefire, Scur is captured by a renegade war criminal, and left for dead in the ruins of a bunker. She revives aboard a prisoner transport vessel. Something has gone terribly wrong with the ship.

Passengers—combatants from both sides of the war—are waking up from hibernation far too soon. Their memories, embedded in bullets, are the only links to a world which is no longer recognizable. And Scur will be reacquainted with her old enemy, but with much higher stakes than just her own life. (Goodreads Synopsis)

The Review - If the human race is about to go extinct, what do we save?
Slow Bullets is an explosive science fiction novella from SF legend Alastair Reynolds. Set in his extensive 'Revelation Space' universe, we follow a female conscripted soldier who is left for dead by a venomous adversary called Orvin. After saving her own life, Scur loses consciousness and eventually wakes up on a spacecraft with no memory of how she came to be aboard the vessel. 

On the ship are thousands of humans frozen in hibernation chambers. Scur isn't the only individual awake and quickly becomes involved in an on-board dispute. She soon finds out that the ship is a prison escort vessel heading for a distant galaxy to dispose of its contents. A massive systems failure has left the ship in ruin and the convicts are beginning to wake up, angry, confused and free to revolt. Threatening to blow up the ship to stop the violence, Scur manages to contain any more fighting. Once everyone is united, they set out to find the truth about what is happening aboard the Caprice.

I was amazed about the amount of plot that AR managed to fit into 182 pages. Scur is a survivor and nothing will stop her from getting home. She was not meant to be part of this war, and finding herself on a prison ship heading for oblivion kicks her into overdrive. Dealing with revolts, schizophrenic machinery, memory loss, revenge, scientific uncertainty and religion. At its core, Slow Bullets is a survival tale that relies heavily on science-fiction to draw the reader into a complex, brief and interesting tale. AR addresses an important and relevant question here, what would we need to prioritise in order to survive an extinct event?

I recommend Slow Bullets to all SF fans. It would suit those who like brief but engaging plot lines with small amounts of character development. AR's focus is on both plot and a detailed science fiction setting. It was great to read a SF book that was not trying to be over-complicated but instead just being enjoyable and thought provoking. I don't really have any negative comments on Slow Bullets or AR's work. My one significant issue with this book (which is pretty common) is that I didn't appreciate the fact that the whole progress of the plot relied on one person who needed to be awake, alive and have the right knowledge and technical know-how.

Overall I think Slow Bullets is worth your time and money. It is a great addition to the genre, with all the conflict, science, technology and space that any SF could want in a novella. I have given the book 4/5 stars as I thought the story was memorable, enjoyable and filled with conflict, graphic imagery and scientific detail. Pick it up and enjoy. Thank you for reading this review. There are plenty more at Always Trust In Books in a wide range of genres.

Pick up Slow Bullets here: Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads 

About the Author: Alastair Reynolds, former scientist and now full-time writer. Most of what he writes is science fiction, with a strong concern for scientific verisimilitude (although he is prepared to break the rules for the sake of a good story). He has lived in England, Scotland and the Netherlands where he worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency until 2004, but now makes his home back in his native Wales. (Image and Bio from Goodreads)

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