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Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days

Alastair Reynolds

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Gollancz

Published : 2003

Copyright : Alastair Reynolds 2003

ISBN-10 : PB 0-575-07516-3
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-575-07516-0

Publisher's Write-Up

Two scintillating stories from science fiction's hottest new talent.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into interstellar space...

Alastair Reynolds burst onto the SF scene with the Arthur C. Clarke Award-shortlisted Revelation Space, British Science Fiction Award-winning Chasm City, and Redemption Ark. Now experience the phenomenal imagination and breathtaking vision of 'The most exciting space opera writer working today' (Locus) in these two tales of high adventure set in the same universe as his novels. The title story, Diamond Dogs, tells of a group of mercenaries trying to unravel the mystery of a particularly inhospitable alien tower on a distant world; Turquoise Days is about Naqi, who has devoted her life to studying the alien Pattern Jugglers.

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Review by Paul Lappen (300605) Rating (9/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
The first of these two novellas, set in the author's 'Revelation Space' universe, is about an alien tower, obviously part of a long-dead civilization, on a desolate planet. Decomposed bodies and body parts around the base show that extreme care is a very good idea. A man named Childe assembles a group of people to explore the tower from the inside, including Richard Swift, an old friend, and Doctor Trintingnant. The doctor is famous, or infamous, for removing organs or limbs from people, and replacing them with their artificial equivalent, not always with the patient's consent. Therefore, he experimented on his only willing patient, himself.

The tower consists of a series of rooms. Entrance to the next room is gained by solving a very high-level mathematical puzzle. After a while, the tower begins to impose a time limit on the decision-making process. After retreating from one disastrous room, where one member is killed, and several limbs are chopped off (happily replaced by the doctor), the rest of the group says no more. Childe and Swift determine that artificial limbs and organs are less prone to attack by the tower than organic, so they have Dr. T turn them into something like an artificial greyhound dog, and return to the tower. In examining the bodies around the base of the tower, the doctor determines that, genetically, they all come from the same person. The question is also raised as to how Childe knew just what sort of people would be needed to explore the tower, if, as he claims, this is his first visit.

The second story takes place on Turquoise, a planet whose ocean is inhabited by Pattern Jugglers, a one-celled aquatic organism capable of recording the memories of any being who joins their collective consciousness. Naqi Okpik is among those studying the Jugglers, until Mina, her sister, becomes part of the Juggler consciousness.

One day, an interstellar trading vessel stops by for a visit, a once-in-a-lifetime event for the isolated people of Turquoise. One of the ship's crew, a man named Weir, is acting very strangely. During a tour of the Juggler research station, the rest of the crew attacks, and takes over the station. It seems that many years before, a despot named Ormozd visited the planet, and was absorbed by the Pattern Jugglers. The intention of the attackers is to "download" Ormozd's memories from the Jugglers, and place them into several different people. This is what Weir has come to stop. He takes a boat into a node of Jugglers, with Naqi in hot pursuit. He carries with him a "bomb" to destroy the Juggler's memory storage capability, and also to destroy the memories of everyone ever absorbed by the Jugglers, including Mina, Naqi's sister.

This is another first-rate piece of writing from Reynolds. It would be a good idea to read any of his 'Revelation Space' books first. These novellas are interesting, very well done and highly recommended.

See BookLore's review for Revelation Space, the first book by Alastair Reynolds. Ed.
Paul Lappen (30th June 2005)

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