Alastair Reynolds takes the reader on an epic journey across time. Tinging his new tale, Eversion, with hints of Verne, Lovecraftian cosmic horror, O’Brien, and 50s sci-fi Reynolds introduces us to Silas Coade, ship’s doctor,
We slide through time, across a variety of vehicles, sailing ships, airships, and spacecraft, but it is always the same ship, the same crew, and the same mission. They are heading towards an encounter with a strange artifact known as the Edifice.
And each quest threatens to end in failure and destruction.
Reynolds, whose talent for creating space opera tinged with hard science fiction is unparalleled and is on full display here even when Coade finds himself exploring ice-covered parts of Earth and delving into a frightening unknown.
As the story progresses it contemplates the idea of what it is to be human, compassionate, and the meaning of sacrifice and exploration. Coade is unsure what the shifts in time, place, and narrative mean for him, but with the help of Ada, the lone female member of the crew, who has a strange draw for him, he may be able to finally understand what is going on.
Both Coade and Reynolds slip easily into whatever time period they are inhabiting, even as other things start to impinge on it, rising up to threaten that reality like an iceberg from the depths. As Coade slides through time, we not only relate to him but the crewmembers he develops a friendship with, even if they change from time period to time period.
All of it leads to the real cause of the perceived time fracture and narrative, and Reynolds delivers every sentence of it with the thrust of a Saturn V rocket. He embraces each of the time periods Coade inhabits, bringing them vividly to life. I laughed aloud and delightedly with the 50s ers science fiction aspect as I could see every moment of it in my mind’s eye, and it was brilliant.
Reynolds has quickly become a favorite writer of mine, and I look forward to his stories, but this one may be my choice as the best of the bunch. The sense of trepidation, exploration, discovery, horror, and humanity is top-notch and so well-told.
It would be easy to be unanchored in time and drift through the narrative without any real comprehension, but Reynolds ensures the reader is strapped in tight and lets little bits of dialogue or description allow the reader to orient themselves even as the plot races along, upping the dread and the worry as Coade draws closer to the Edifice and discovers its true nature, as well as his.
Eversion is a fantastic read, and I loved exploring the Edifice alongside Coade even as we slipped through time together. Check this one out, and you won’t be disappointed.
Eversion is available now from Orbit Books!