cover image Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds

Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds

Edited by Jonathan Strahan and William Schafer. Subterranean, $45 (784p) ISBN 978-1-59606-766-0

This collection of 18 long and short stories by Reynolds (the Poseidon’s Children series), one of the most gifted hard SF writers working today, displays his facility for building fascinating settings and integrating romance and mystery plots into space opera. Even readers completely unacquainted with his various universes will have no trouble getting acclimated. For example, no prior knowledge of the Revelation Space books is required to enjoy the longer stories “Great Wall of Mars” and “Weather,” which immerse readers in a future where the human achievement of “neural communion” led to bloody warfare; Reynolds uses that backdrop to explore what the unlinked humans still have in common with Conjoiners, who share mental communion with each other, rather than as an excuse for dramatic space battles showing off imaginative weaponry. The stories are often moving and surprising. When Reynolds resorts to twist endings, the final revelations are logical and never gimmicky, serving a larger purpose than simply causing shock or surprise. Readers will greatly appreciate the breadth and variety of this deeply enjoyable collection. (July)