Short Story: GALACTIC NORTH (from Galactic North), by Alastair Reynolds

Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space trilogy is one of the most intriguing (and challenging!) reads I ever encountered, but it happened several years ago so that time has blurred my memory of it considerably, and the complexity of the narrative context in which this space opera series is set made it difficult for me to retain more than a few of the myriad details of that multifaceted tapestry. A re-read is something I might enjoy one of these days, and I think this collection of longer stories from that same universe might be the best way to re-introduce myself with the characters and the wide, sweeping background they are moving in.


Sadly enough, this last story in the collection – and the one that gives it its name – proved to be the one I enjoyed less, despite its interesting premise: it starts with the drama of a ship, carrying a huge number of people in suspended animation, that’s attacked by pirates who proceed to kill the sleepers to retrieve any implants they might be carrying. The ship’s captain, barely escaping with her life, starts a long chase of the pirates and of her former first officer who joined them.

The dogged pursuit goes on along centuries and then millennia, as the two cheat time through suspended animation first and then through other means devised to sustain their conscience, while the galaxy is threatened by the expansion wave of sentient machines intent on creating Dyson spheres around suns, all the while destroying the organic life in those systems.

While both the chase and the encroaching danger are fascinating themes, for some reason I felt removed from the characters depicted in this story: it might be because I could not connect with them, since they seemed to me only approximately sketched – unlike other characters in preceding stories – and also because the narrative form, which is a series of events stretched across a huge time-span and presented in loosely related flashes, did not help either.

Still, the concept remain fascinating and it ties well with other threads in the Revelation Space trilogy, which convinces me that a re-read of Reynolds’ main work is in order, since I’ve come to believe that a revisitation might offer insights that eluded me in that first, now long-past first read.


My Rating:

18 thoughts on “Short Story: GALACTIC NORTH (from Galactic North), by Alastair Reynolds

  1. For me, the time gaps were just too much for me to feel any intensity. Plus the attitude of the main characters seemed to be “Oh well, we’ll just wait it out until things are better” rubbed me the wrong way.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This reminds me how long it’s been since I’ve read anything by Reynolds, which is far too long. I absolutely loved the early Revelation Space novels. I’ve continued collecting his books, including this anthology, just need to get back to reading them! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Huh, I think I’d feel the same way as you regarding this story – too big time and space gaps and not enough character development can kill even the best story for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A shame that it was the last story and it didn’t end with a bang, but I agree the concept is fascinating. Still, feeling removed from the characters is what would kill it for me, for me it’s gotta be ALL about the characters!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This last story sounded more like an afterthought more than anything else, and I’m sorry that it spoiled the overall effect of the anthology: still, I’m very happy to have read it, and to have confirmed that this author can still enthrall me… 🙂


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