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Elysium Fire (The Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies, 2) Kindle Edition
"Reynolds combines depth in characterization and dazzling hard-science applications to keep the reader turning pages."―Booklist
"Elysium Fire is a tremendously assured read, a fast-paced page-turner that delivers a well thought out story and characters you'll come to care about."―The Guardian (UK)
"A swashbuckling thriller--Pirates of the Caribbean meets Firefly--that nevertheless combines the author's trademark hard SF with effective, coming-of-age characterization."―The Guardian on Revenger
"Revenger is classic Reynolds-that is to say, top of the line science fiction, where characters are matched beautifully with ideas and have to find their place in a complex future. More!"―Greg Bear on Revenger
"A leading light of the new British space opera."
―Los Angeles Review of Books on Alastair Reynolds
"One of the giants of the new British space opera."
―io9 on Alastair Reynolds
"[Reynolds is] a mastersinger of the space opera."
―The Times (UK) on Blue Remembered Earth
"Heir to writers like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Reynolds keeps up the tradition of forward thinking... An immensely thrilling, mind-bending piece of work."
―AV Club on House of Suns
"[Reynolds] is the most gifted hard SF writers working today."
―Publishers Weekly on Beyond the Aquila Rift --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B073P43TMS
- Publisher : Orbit; 1st edition (January 23, 2018)
- Publication date : January 23, 2018
- Language : English
- File size : 1503 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 415 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #182,705 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Possibly it is my memory is playing tricks, but it remains that the protagonist, Inspector Dreyfus, is the classic 'strong, silent, competent' archetype male lead that drives many sci fi adventure/mysteries, and it helps that he has both a painful past holding him back, and a literal ghost in the machine hounding his moves. I'm not sure I'd describe him as "one of Alastair Reynolds most popular characters", which the blurb does, but he's interesting enough and certainly gets it done.
The mystery here is why people are inexplicably dying, and whether Dreyfus - and his fellow Prefect's - can figure out how to stop it before the apparent contagion decimates the population and the Glitter Band descends into chaos. We are privy to an interesting backstory that is both deceptive and insightful. And I liked that it looped around nicely in a way that reminded me of the movie "Predestination".
Dreyfus and crew have a middling level of high-tech gadgets and weapons, but this is primarily an intellectual puzzle, not an action adventure. There is action, and quite a lot of it, but don't expect military-grade warfare or personal super-suits. It is the fact that Dreyfus is vulnerable and easily damaged that adds tension to the plot. He also relies a lot on intuition, which tips him into continual conflict with the boss as he can't call out the 'why' of his reasoning, but is ultimately justified, so he comes out vindicated...kind of. That looping ending includes a nice Möbius twist that was hard to see coming. In fact, you have to pay attention to unravel it, even with the narrative providing an explanation.
There are a lot of baddies and red herrings and misdirection in "Elysium Fire" and that makes it a good mystery. The sci fi is an interesting background for the characters to act against, but this is not particularly powerful sci fi in the sense of making a statement about the meaning of life. Instead, it's a gritty, personal journey and motivation so the emotional content resonates in the here and now, even if the police have AI whip-hounds and space ships.
Definitely one for Reynolds fans, and for anyone who likes locked-box sci fi mysteries. My only gripe is the price of the Kindle version. Reynolds is good, but this is way more expensive than comparably excellent novels from the likes of M.D. Cooper or M. R. Forbes.
However, as the book progresses, the story starts to founder. First, there’s far too much reliance on the previous instalment. That book came out many years ago and I don’t remember many of the details, and yet the reader is expected to be up to speed with every nuance and episode from volume one. I shouldn’t have to go back and re-read the first book to enjoy and understand this one - a little exposition would have gone a long way. But more crucially, what starts off as a global crisis eventually fizzles down to a far more mundane and predictable story, plus the eventual resolution is not especially satisfactory.
I’ll keep reading Reynolds, and there are good signs of great things to come, but this was not quite the book I had hoped for.
When I first read Revelation Space and the other novels in the Revelation Space universe, I thought Reynolds was desperately in need of an editor. His plots were interesting and his ideas intriguing, but his characters were among the flattest I've ever experienced, and his storytelling skills lacked much. He couldn't seem to provide decent tension to draw the reading through the story. I only kept reading because I was travelling and bored.
The Prefect brought me back to Reynolds. His publisher definitely gave him a developmental editor for that one.
And Elysium Fire is AMAZING. One of Reynold's modes is starting with three different stories and weaving them together until the become one story in the fourth quarter of the book. In Elysium Fire, he weaves together the present and the near past instead. Giving the reader little kernels of the story before the investigators figure it out gave me a great deal of enjoyment.
Even though you think you know how the story is going to end, the way everything is tied up in the final pages is very satisfying.
I hope he keeps up this trend.
That's not my primary problem with the novel. The characters are fine, the settings are familiar, but the plot is incredibly contrived. I didn't see the Big Twist coming, but I found it so nonsensical that I'd have given it an eyeroll had I been 10 years old. I gave it a "huh, so that's it, then," and the book just kind of lurched to a stop.
I forgot the details of The Prefect but that didn't matter relative to this book.
If you want something short and disposable, this works. You'll forget you ever read it in a month. However, Reynolds has done much better, and newcomers to his work should seek out a different novel of his.
Top reviews from other countries
This is a sequel to Reynolds’ 2007 novel, the Prefect, now renamed Aurora Rising and features the same central character, Inspector Dreyfus of Panoply, the small consensual security force protecting the Glitter Band.
A wave of mysterious deaths has started to strike at random, and appears to be increasing exponentially. Panoply is racing to find the cause before panic sets in, threatening the cohesion of society. Their task is complicated by a populist agitator, seeking to encourage individual habitats to withdraw from the federal society binding them together. A separatist, who is also vastly wealthy while pretending to be a man of the people, is a clear pointer to this being part a growing thread of post-Brexit, post-Trump SF.
It is also, like Christopher Brookmyre’s recent Places in the Darkness, a very successful combination of genres. The background is a piece of excellent SF. The foreground is a top notch detective story.
Overall, Elysium Rising is a highly satisfying piece of work. It is well plotted with a tight, internally consistent narrative. It does what all good SF does. It creates a highly fantastical, speculative scenario, but then populates in with very human, credible characters.
While Reynolds’ recent Poseidon’s Children sequence were entertaining enough, his strengths lie in this darker, almost gothic universe.
I very much enjoyed this return to the Glitter Band, before the melding plague turns it into The Rust Belt. Tom Dreyfus is much as he was before, a bit more worn, a bit more careful. Sparver and Ng and Aumonier and others reappear, and have grown as well.
The plot starts out at a great pace, with two interwoven story threads: The current emergency, and a tale of two teens from 30 years or so before the current action. Perhaps you might think you have solved the central mystery at some point in the book (but you haven't), and the pieces of the puzzle are presented well in succession, gradually building a picture of the crime and it's origins.
By 3/4 of the way through the book, you realise that the ending is going to be more complex in it's origins than you might have first thought. The ending itself is a bit flat, a bit rushed, with an info-dump a la Agatha Christie summations - not my favourite way to come to a solution in a mystery.
As always, Reynolds' prose and plotting are good, his technology is wonderful, and the characters are interesting and sympathetic.
This is a grand addition to the Revelation Space we all love from Reynolds. 4.5-stars, minus 0.5 for the somewhat flat ending.
Notes and quotes:
Yet there was something different about it today –a kind of pearly glimmer to its details, an inherent lack of focus, as if he saw it through tear-stained eyes. Fine, glinting threads seemed to bind its elements, as if a spider had been crawling around it overnight, trying to fix a web to its endlessly shifting geometry.
A tale of hereditary power, of arrogance in the face of the inevitability of human flaws, of the hubris of kings, of the futile denial of entropy itself.
That was the trouble with having a gift, though –however fairly or unfairly it had been acquired. Sooner or later one felt obliged to use it.
The first Dreyfus novel was just over 500 pages long, but left the reader wanting more. It could have expanded easily by another 200 pages Sadly, the new novel featuring Dreyfus and the other Panoply operatives is about 100 pages shorter than its predecessor, but feels like it should have been another 100 pages shorter. As other reviewers have said, the pace plods, in an irritating, episodic style, resembling a TV cop show. The mystery is intriguing, but seems to unfold at an interminable snail's pace. This is the only Reynolds I have read where I felt an almost irresistible urge to skip over parts to get back to the more interesting bits.
When the focus is on Dreyfus, things are fine. The other characters Reynolds has revived from the first book just aren't as interesting. Parts of the plot are either badly explained, or don't make any sense. The denoument is quite spectacular, but the climactic showdown between the Voi twins, and its conclusion, is eerily reminiscent of the end of Cronenberg's 'Scanners' - again, the first time I have come across something in a Reynolds novel or story that didn't feel wholly original.
I will still look out for Reynolds work with interest, but - please - no more 'Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies'.
In some ways its just a detective story, but the context of the Revelation Space universe gives it an interesting twist. The ending itself is not entirely surprising, but satisfying nonetheless.
I would love Mr Reynolds to revive some of the edgier themes in this series - civilisation limiting, the ultras etc, but would certainly be content with another in the Dreyfus series.