Saturday, July 9, 2016

Science Fiction: Deep Navigation By Alistair Reynolds

(Drivebycuriosity) - Alistair Reynolds is one of the brightest stars on the firmament of contemporary science fiction. The British author, who has a PhD in physics, started his career as research astronomer for the European Space Research and Technology Centre (part of the European Space Agency) until 2004 when he left to pursue writing full-time ( wikipedia). Since then he spezializes in  hard science fiction and space opera. The short story collection "Deep Navigation" shows his mastership ( amazon ).

The 15 stories are pure hard science fiction - they all are based on science. Reynolds shows the skill to transform a scientific concept into a thrilling plot.  One story is a based on the laws of thermodynamics which leads to dramatical results (I don´t say which, this is a spoiler free blog), another story is build on quantum physics. One story involves evolution, especially how some alien spezies adapted to extreme & exotic environments. Some stories deal with the hypothesis of a multiverse, a hypothetical set of finite and infinite possible universes, including the universe in which we live ( wikipedia) or play with the idea of a singularity, when intelligent machines have overtaken the earth.

 I enjoyed reading all 15 stories. 3 of them are my favorites:

"The Fixation" is set in an alternate world, a very modern Persia. Museum agents are restoring a very ancient machine. Someone has a fascinating idea how to refurbish the device.

"Monkey Suit" is about an engineer who is repairing the hull of a huge spaceship in outer space - a very tedious, dangerous & responsible task. Reminds me of Stanislaw Lem`s space pilot Pirx stories, but much more advanced.

"Byrd Land Six" is a thriller set in a scientific base on Antartica.

There are more remarkable stories:

"Stroboscopic": A professional player participates in a dangerous game with alien arthropods.

"The Fury": The bodyguard of the galactic emperor investigates his boss` assassination

"The Star Surgeon`s Apprentice" is an adventure story set on a space ship. 

Reading Alistair Reynolds is highly recommended for all lovers of real (hard) science fiction and this short story collection is a good entry point.

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