Review: Zima Blue and Other Stories

Zima Blue and Other Stories
Zima Blue and Other Stories by Alastair Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having tried to struggle through the overwritten sludge that is China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station it was an absolute joy to drop that brick of a book at page 140 and immerse myself in these beautiful short stories of Reynolds. I’d gone cold on Reynolds recently having struggled with his House of Suns novel. This was partly to do with the fact that it was an audio book and that the guy reading it had all the presence of a hat stand. That aside Zima Blue has reawakened my faith in Reynolds to tell a damn good tale and to tell it well. I don’t read a lot of sci- fi, well not as much as I used to, and that’s mainly because I found a lot of it was quite soulless and cold, with ideas given precedence of characters. Reynolds loves a big idea and there are plenty of those here but he also takes the time to draw out believable characters that you can care about, characters that you want to stick with. He leads you deftly through these tales, always showing, never preaching and handles the science in a clear and concise manner that I found easy to grasp ( and I’m no scientist. ) Many of the stories deal with our take on reality weather that’s alternate earths that are contacted through a research lab in Cardiff ( Signal to Noise & Cardiff Afterlife ) or characters that push the barriers of comprehension by augmenting their own mental abilities ( Understanding Space and Time & the title story Zima Blue. ) I particularly like the stories that were sent in the present day with no overt sci-fi bent ( Digital to Analogue & Everlasting. ) I found the brief notes at the end of each story very useful as they give you an insight into the creative process and the vagaries of publishing. Each note details what lead up to the story, how the idea was developed and when and how it was finally published. If you like science fiction and you like short stories then this book is for you. I’ll definitely give Mr Reynolds’ novels another go after this.

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