Title: Slow Bullets | Series: Standalone | Author: Alastair Reynolds | Publisher: Gollancz | Publication date: February 16th 2017 | Num. Pages: 192 | Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
4 stars – Another brilliant Space Opera from a master of the genre
Many thanks to the publisher Gollancz & Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review
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.
Slow Bullets is the second book by Alastair Reynolds that I have read, it was only 192 pages, but it was 192 pages of yet another brilliant space opera by the master. This novella took place in an alternate world to ours and mostly in space; there is one main character Scureyla or Scur as she is known throughout the novella. The novella reads a lot like a memoir rather than a story with the narrator Scur bringing you back to various points in her life as a forcibly conscripted military individual on her home planet.
The story starts with a brief mention of a broken law in the form of poetry before it is moved on to the actual story, where Scur is captured during a ceasefire by the war criminal Orvin who ultimately tortures and comes very close to killing her. From there things get more space opera-ery and less horror movie; Scur reawakens after passing out on a skipship (a type of transport vessel) that is now a prison, she’s been in hibernation for the past god knows how long and the world around her is not how it once was.
There was multiple sides to the war and these sides have spilled over into the prison ship the Caprice and everyone is fighting amongst each other in fear. Scur comes across a member of the crew named Prad who she eventually befriends after some rather jumpy starts; together they start to put the deteriorating ship to rights including separating out the three ‘factions’ of the war.
We do not choose our friends in life; life does that for us.
There’s a bit that’s slightly harsher than I would have expected given how “generic” it seemed at the start but there was a sweet little twist towards the end that threw me entirely. Orvin didn’t die 1000 years ago like Scur thought, instead he was with her on the Caprice and the twist relates to him – that’s all I’m saying.
There’s a strong religious undertone to this novella which was a touch off-putting, particularly with the eventual mini religious war that ensues between the factions. This book has been previously published and it has been mentioned a few times that it’s quite generic, to begin with it is, but the ending of this novella is what makes the entire thing brilliant.
Until then, whoever I was, whatever I did, whoever you are, think well of me.
I called myself Scur. I was a soldier in the war.
I set my hands to these words.
It was certainly a good slice of Alastair Reynolds work and was definitely written along the same lines of the other book of his I’ve read Revenger, although short and sweet, there were no loose ends that can sometimes be present, the dialogue was a touch mis-matched but was ultimately well-rounded and proved a good thing.