Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days - Alastair Reynolds

Reviewed for Usenet (or see Google archive).

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days
Tales from the Revelation Space universe
Alastair Reynolds
Gollancz Hardback
ISBN: 0575075260 (Amazon link)

This is going to a very short review, as I think short stories are best experienced as unfolding "What is this about?" events. With a novel, you are being asked for more time so some mild spoilers are fine to decide whether or not to invest. I'm also assuming most people interested in this are probably familiar with one of Alastair Reynolds' novels so I'm not going to explain, eg the Ultras, or the Pattern Jugglers. (However, I don't think reading this book first would pose any problems.)

There are two stories in this slim hardback; the first and longer is Diamond Dogs, a fantastic little set piece which skilfully blends old and new tropes. It's one of my favourite shorts. It's about, well, that would be a spoiler really. It's about a quest to investigate a Big Dumb Object abandoned on an alien world. It's also a haunted house story. With likeable characters, vivid setting and genuinely shocking plot I recommend this highly.

The second story is short and weaker in my opinion. It's Turquoise Days, and is set on an ocean planet colonised by the Pattern Jugglers. We follow the story of a young female scientist who works on the jugglers; starting from her early experiences with her sister, who is highly susceptible to the Juggler lifeforms and finishing with Exciting Events on a large scale juggler experiment. The Exciting Events are occasioned by the visit of an Ultra ship to this colony, which has an isolationist policy. For my money the plot in this one felt forced, and I didn't enjoy it much. However, the characterisation and writing are good, it's only the plot that I think felt forced.

Posted: Sat - February 22, 2003 at 11:22 PM