Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds

(discussed August 21, 2003)

On a ten-point scale (1=bad, 10=good), the people who read the book gave the following ratings: 5 (Chris), 5 (Lisa), 7 (Dru), 7 (John), 7 (Judy), 8 (Ignacio), 8 (Julie), 9 (Abe), 9 (Damien), 9 (Raja)
Average: 7.4

Alastair Reynolds has a website at . The content on the site is pretty nice (notes on his various writings, and his comments on hard SF writers past and present), but his web host, Tripod, forces an annoying popup banner window while you browse the site.

The book was "sponsored" by Ignacio Viglizzo and Raja Thiagarajan.

Raja says

Chasm City is set in the same universe as two other novels: Revelation Space and Redemption Ark, and six shorter stories: "A Spy in Europa", "Galactic North", "Great Wall of Mars", "Glacial", "Diamond Dogs", and "Turquoise Days". You can read "A Spy in Europa" online at the Infinity Plus website.

While I enjoyed Revelation Space (his first novel), I pushed for the group to read Chasm City instead because (a) I think it's a better novel, (b) I think it stands alone quite well (Revelation Space points strongly to a sequel), and (c) it comes first among the novels, in terms of internal chronology (Chasm City's Epilogue has a short scene pointing to the start of Revelation Space).

If you plan to read more stories set in this universe, I recommend that you read Redemption Ark last--it's a "sequel" to not only Revelation Space but also to "Galactic North", "Great Wall of Mars", "Glacial", and Chasm City. (At least, those were the references I recognized when I read it; I wouldn't be surprised to find I'd missed references to the other short stories.)

Reynolds's next novel, Absolution Gap, "concludes the loose sequence of novels relating directly to the Inhibitors." (That would place it after Redemption Ark.) "That doesn't mean that there won't ever be another novel set in the same universe as these books. Any further books, however, will be more like Chasm City, standing on their own and with only background references to the Inhibitor theme."

Both Chris Stanley and Lisa Bradley finished the book later and emailed their votes in. Interestingly, both said that a better book "could have been distilled from it." However, they disagreed about which part they liked; Lisa (and several others) thought the first part was more interesting, while Chris wrote "...I found the whole thing boring except the last 50 pages or so." and "It's as I always suspected. *I'm* the weird one." ;-)