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2057. Bella Lind and the crew of her nuclear-powered ship, the Rockhopper, push ice. They mine comets. But nothing can prepare them for the surprises in store when Janus, one of Saturn's ice moons, spins out of control.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St. Andrew's Universities and has a Ph.D. in astronomy. A former astrophysicist for the European Space Agency, he lives in the Netherlands, near Leiden. He is now writing full-time.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
“A believable and interesting cast of characters, and the political intrigue both on board the Rockhopper and among the various forms of alien intelligence they eventually meet will keep readers guessing.”
—The Rocky Mountain News
“A fantastic tale of survival and adaptation to strange surroundings. Wow!”
—The Weekly Press (Philadelphia, PA)
“Spectacular . . . [Reynolds] has a genius for big-concept SF and fans of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama and Larry Niven’s Ringworld will love this novel.”
“It’s often possible to guess at what lies ahead, but such guesses only flesh out so much of the story. As a result, there’s still a wonderful sense of exploration that echoes the experience of the Rockhopper’s crew. In any case, the story is so well-paced that it’s preferable to just put your feet up and go along for the ride than to try and second-guess the author. Pushing Ice is a brilliant read and demonstrates that Reynolds is continuing to travel from strength to strength. It comes highly recommended to all readers of SF, no matter their individual predilections.”
“Pure space opera . . . the beauty of the piece isn’t in the decidedly familiar plotlines but in the way that the writer re-works them . . . Reynolds takes in all of these great ideas and plays with our assumptions, producing a surprising ending that is more upbeat than most pieces of space opera, arguing that the fact that intelligent life exists in a cold and hostile universe is a fantastic and beautiful thing that should be celebrated rather than mourned . . . The combination of the nicely re-thought familiar plot devices and Reynolds’ solid prose and beautifully crafted pacing make reading this book not unlike enjoying a really well made version of your favorite comfort food.”
—Revolution Science Fiction
“Reynolds . . . does not take the expected route . . . Pushing Ice is very well done indeed . . . well worth a read.”
“Where this transcends the average ho-hum space opera is the über-text that contemplates the incomprehensible immensity of the universe and the relative insignificant presence—yet nevertheless unique fact—of human existence . . . entertaining and . . . hopeful.”
“Reynolds possesses the true and awesome widescreen SF imagination . . . an exciting, thought-provoking novel.”
“Century Rain fuses time travel, hard SF, alternate history, interstellar adventure, and noir romance to create a novel of blistering power and style.”
“For Reynolds’s efforts, the reader is treated to concepts that engage on a galactic scale and snippets of humor in touchy situations. Yes, the pace is easy, but it belies a low hum of excitement that crescendos to a counterpoint of science and humanity saving one or two worlds.”
—The Kansas City Star
DIAMOND DOGS, TURQUOISE DAYS
“A tale of blood and brainpower . . . nonstop thrills.”
—Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine
“Astronomer Reynolds’s two far-future space exploration novellas . . . confirm his mastery of noir SF . . . brilliantly executed parables.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
One of the Best SF Novels of the Year, Locus
One of the Top Ten Science Fiction Novels of the Year, SF Site
“Reynolds’s plot rapidly builds momentum, hurtling to a stunning conclusion. Cinematic imagery and strong characters ably carry this juggernaut of a story, with Big Ideas strewn about like pebbles on a beach.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A book of great fascination, rich description, and memorable action.”
Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year, Chronicle
One of the Best SF Novels of the Year, Locus
“The best of the new breed of space opera. Wild action on a grand scale spans well-imagined and developed worlds—bold and new with sharply defined differences in both characters and the changed definitions of humanity.”
—The Denver Post
“Clearly one of the year’s major science fiction novels . . . The book Reynolds’s readers have been waiting for.”
Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year, Chronicle
One of the Best First Novels of the Year, Locus
“A terrific treat. I was hooked from page one . . . Ferociously intelligent and imbued with a chilling logic—it may really be like this Out There.”
—Stephen Baxter, co-author of
The Light of Other Days
“Intensely compelling; darkly intelligent; hugely ambitious.”
—Paul J. McAuley, author of Whole Wide World
Ace Books by Alastair Reynolds
DIAMOND DOGS, TURQUOISE DAYS
Table of Contents
“Stars have their moment, then they die.”
Her name was Chromis Pasqueflower Bowerbird and she had travelled a long way to make her case. The faint possibility of failure had always been at the back of her mind, but now that her ship had actually delivered her to the Congressional capital world, now that she had actually frameshifted to New Far Florence across all those dizzying light-years, the faint possibility had sharpened into a stomach-churning conviction that she was about to suffer imminent and chastening defeat. There had always been people eager to tell her that her proposal was doomed, but for the first time it occurred to her that they could be right. What she had in mind was, even by her own admission, a deeply unorthodox suggestion.
“Well, it’s certainly a nice day for it,” said Rudd Indigo Mammatus, joining her on the balcony, high above the cloud-girdled tiers and gardens of the Congress building’s footslopes.
“Abject humiliation, you mean?”
Rudd shook his head good-naturedly. “It’s the last perfect day of summer. I’ve checked: tomorrow will be cooler, stormier. Doesn’t that strike you as suitably auspicious?”
“I’m worried. I think I’m going to make an idiot of myself in there.”
“We’ve all made idiots of ourselves at some point. In this line of work it’s almost obligatory.”
Chromis and Rudd were politicians, political friends from different constituencies of the Congress of the Lindblad Ring. Chromis spoke for a relatively small grouping of settled worlds: a mere one hundred and thirty planet-class entities, packed into a volume of space only twenty light-years across. Rudd’s constituency, located on the edge of the Ring—where it brushed against the fractious outer worlds of the Loop II Imperium—enveloped a much larger volume of space but only a third as many planet-class entities. Politically, they had very little in common, but by the same token they had very little worth squabbling over. Once every five hundred years, when the representatives were summoned to New Far Florence, Chromis and Rudd would meet to swap world-weary tales of scandal and chicanery from their respective constituencies.
Chromis fingered the ring on her right index finger, tracing the interlocking, hypnotically complex design embossed into its surface. “Do you think they’ll go for it? It’s been eighteen thousand years, after all. It’s asking a lot of people to think back that far.”
“The whole point of this little exercise is to dream up something to commemorate ten thousand years of our glorious Congress,” Rudd said, with only the slightest trace of irony. “If the other representatives can’t get off their fat backsides and think back another eight thousand years before that, they deserve to have the reeves set on them.”
“Don’t joke,” Chromis said darkly. “I heard they had to send in the reeves on Hemlock only four hundred years ago.”
“Messy business, too: by all accounts there were at least a dozen non-recoverable dead. But I wasn’t joking, Chromis: if they don’t bite, I’ll personally recommend a police action.”
“If only everyone else felt the same way.”
“Then damn well go in there and see to it that they do.” Rudd offered his hand. “It’s time, anyway. The last thing you want to do is keep any of them waiting.”
She took his hand chastely. Rudd was an attractive man, and Chromis had it on good authority that she had many admirers in the Congress, but their friendship was strictly platonic: they both had partners back on their home-worlds, held in stasis cauls until they returned from New Far Florence. Chromis loved her husband, although many days might pass between thoughts of him. Without his help convincing one hundred and thirty worlds that this was something they had to support, the memorial plan would have stalled long ago.
“I’m really worried, Rudd. Worried I’m about to screw up nearly a thousand years of preparation.”
“Keep your nerve and stick to the script,” Rudd said sternly. “No last-minute clever ideas, all right?”
“Same goes for you. Remember: ‘intended recipient’.”
Rudd smiled reassuringly and led her into the stratospheric vastness of the meeting room. The chamber had been constructed in the early centuries of the Congress, when it had aspirations to expand into territory now occupied by neighbouring polities. Space not being at a premium on New Far Florence, the hundred-odd representatives were scattered across nearly a square kilometre of gently sloping floor space, and the ceiling was ten kilometres above their heads. Slowly rotating in the middle of the room, lacking any material suspension, was the display cube in which their enlarged images would appear when they had the floor. While it waited for the session to begin, the cube projected the ancient emblem of the Congress: a three-dimensional rendering of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of a naked man encompassed within a square and circle, his limbs drawn twice so that he stood upon, and touched, both shapes.
Chromis and Rudd took their positions on either side of the floor. The last few delegates were arriving by transit caul: black humanoid shells popped into existence in the chamber before dissipating to reveal the occupants within. The femtomachinery of the cauls merged seamlessly with the local machinery of the Congress building. Every artificial object in the Congress of the Lindblad Ring—from the largest frameshift liner to the smallest medical robot—comprised countless copies of the same universal femtomachine element.
Routine business consumed the first hour of the meeting. Chromis sat patiently, shuffling mental permutations, wondering whether she should consider a change of approach. It was difficult to judge the mood of the gathering. But Rudd’s advice had been sound. She held her nerve, and when she had the floor she spoke the words she had already committed to memory before leaving home.
“Honoured delegates,” she began, as her magnified image appeared in the display cube, “we are nearing the ten thousandth year since the founding of our first colony—the beginning of what we now recognise as the Congress of the Lindblad Ring. I believe we are all of a mind in one respect: something must be done to acknowledge this coming milestone, something that will reflect well upon our administration, especially in light of the similar anniversaries that have recently been celebrated in two of our neighbouring polities. There have been many suggestions as to how we might mark this occasion. A civic project, perhaps, such as a well-deserved terraforming or a timely stellar rejuvenation. A Dyson englobement—purely for the hell of it—or the frame-shifting of an entire world from one system to another. Even something as modest as the erection of a ceremonial dome or an ornamental fountain.” Chromis paused and looked pointedly at the delegates who had proposed these latter projects, hoping that they felt suitably abashed at their dismal lack of vision.
“There have been many excellent proposals, and doubtless there will be many more, but I wish to suggest something of an entirely different magnitude. Rather than creating something for ourselves, a monument in our own galactic backyard, I humbly suggest that we consider something altogether more altruistic. I propose an audacious act of cosmic gratitude: the sending of a message, a gift, across space and time. The intended recipient of this gift will be the person—or the descendants of the person—without whom the very fabric of our society would look unrecognisably different.”
Chromis paused again, still unable to judge the mood of the delegates, the blank faces of those close enough to see conveying neither approval nor disapproval. She took a deep breath and pressed on. “Doubtless we would have achieved some of the same advances eventually—but who is to say that it wouldn’t have taken tens of thousands of years rather than the mere handful of millennia it actually took? Instead of a mosaic of polities spread across nearly twelve thousand light-years of the galactic disc, we might very well be confined to a handful of systems, with all the risks that such close confinement would inevitably entail. And let us not forget that the insights that have allowed us to leapfrog centuries of slow development were given to us freely, with no expectation of reward. Our Benefactor sent that data back to Earth because it was the right thing to do.” Here Chromis swallowed, uncomfortably aware that some might be thinking—not without cause—that the very same data had almost wiped out humanity as it struggled to assimilate dangerous new knowledge. But at a remove of eighteen thousand years, such thoughts were surely churlish. Fire had singed more than a few fingers before people learned how to use it.
She heard a few unconvinced grumbles, but no one chose to interrupt her. Chromis steeled herself and continued, “I know that some of us have forgotten the precise nature of that act of charity. In a moment, I hope to jog our collective memory. But first let me outline exactly what I have in mind.”
She craned her neck to look at the display cube. On cue, her image was replaced by a simulation of the galaxy, as if viewed from far outside: ancient and huge, littered with the humbling relics of the Spicans but empty of life—so far as anyone knew—save for the smudge of human presence spreading out from one spiral arm, like an inkblot.
“The Benefactor and her people are still out there somewhere,” Chromis said, “almost certainly beyond the Hard Data Frontier—perhaps even outside the galaxy itself. But unless the universe has more tricks up its sleeve than we suspect, they can’t be more than eighteen thousand light-years away, even if they’re still moving away from us. And perhaps they’ve already arrived wherever...
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