Thursday, July 06, 2023

BOOK REVIEW: Eversion by Alastair Reynolds

Eversion is the latest book by Alastair Reynolds, one of my all-time favorite authors. Reynolds is probably best known for his hard science fiction space opera series Revelation Space (Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap, and Inhibitor Phase) and Poseidon’s Children (Blue Remembered Earth, On the Steel Breeze, Poseidon’s Wake). My favorite of his novels is Chasm City, but I have also read Century Rain, House of Suns as well as The Prefect (now called Aurora Rising) and its sequel Elysium Fire, which are very well done police procedurals set in science fiction settings. More recently, Reynolds’ work has shifted genres significantly. His Revenger trilogy (Revenger, Shadow Captain, Bone Silence) is basically young adult steampunk science fiction. This recent history had me approach Eversion cautiously, especially when I read the descriptive blurb:

From the master of the space opera comes a dark, mind-bending adventure spread across time and space, where Doctor Silas Coade is tasked with keeping his crew safe as they adventure across the galaxy in search of a mysterious artifact. In the 1800s, a sailing ship crashes off the coast of Norway. In the 1900s, a Zepellin explores an icy canyon in Antarctica. In the far future, a spaceship sets out for an alien artifact. Each excursion goes horribly wrong. And on every journey, Dr. Silas Coade is the physician, but only Silas seems to realize that these events keep repeating themselves. And it's up to him to figure out why and how. And how to stop it all from happening again.

Eversion certainly starts off like it's going to be another steampunk novel, with the main character Dr. Silas Coade serving as the doctor of an actual ship sailing to the frozen tundra of the Northern Atlantic in the 1800s. However, we the reader soon realize things are not what they seem because Dr. Coade suddenly dies but wakes up and he’s on a slightly different ship in slightly different circumstances, this time in the 1900s it's an airship with the same cast of characters. Clearly we are in some kind of time loop but Dr. Coade doesn't seem to know the cause of it or how and why it keeps happening. About two-thirds through the book we start to get a better sense of what’s going on, and it’s a delight. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I think it will suffice it to say that Eversion is definitely NOT just a steampunk fantasy novel. It also has space opera elements but I can't tell you what they are without spoiling some awesome story elements; if I had known that was the case I would have picked up Eversion to read earlier than I did. Don't make the same mistake I did--go read it now! If you're a fan of Reynolds' space opera works I am fairly confident you will also enjoy Eversion.

Title: Eversion.
Alastair Reynolds.
Format: Kindle.
Length: 353 pages.
Publisher: Orbit Books.
Date Published: May 26, 2022.
Date Read: May 22, 2023.

GOODREADS RATING: ★★½☆  (4.5/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A/A- (3.83/4.0).


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