Slow bullets is the last short novel by Alastair Reynolds, published by Tachyon. The brevity of the novel, about 90 pages, is both its main strength and its main flaw. Let's see if I can explain this contradiction.
It is its main virtue because it goes to the point, with no unnecessary preliminary or introductory explanations. The story progresses rapidly and relentlessly. This makes it very attractive and addictive to the reader, and if we add up that the plot is very interesting and surprising, so much better.
And it is its main fault because when I finished it I felt that I wanted more. Reynolds usually gives a lot of depth to the atmosphere and world-building, very important in his novels and in the space-opera in general. This feature is hindered here by the brevity of the story, and there are many details that are not deepen enough, maybe with some more pages, the novel would be more complete.
The Slow bullets are electronic devices that are inserted into the body of the soldiers and that contain information about their history and record, and allow to identify and locate them. The protagonist of the novel, Scur, is a soldier fighting in an interplanetary war, and after having an encounter with an enemy patrol and getting hurt, wakes up in a hibernation capsule in a ship with malfunction, along with several hundred of people, of which no origin or membership is known.
The story focuses on the relationship between these travelers who do not know each other, as they try to survive and understand how they got there. Tangentially also talks about religious conflicts, redemption and survival, individual and of species.
The plot twists are original and surprising, and although there are not enough pages to develop the characters, the evolution of the main character is very interesting.
In short: a very attractive short novel that provides a good time. Not the best Reynolds has written, but is a good example of his imagination and style, and a good way to meet this fantastic author for readers who do not dare to read long sagas as spectacular as Revelation Space.
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