I've just finished my essential annual dose of Alastair Reynolds. To have a complete year of readings one of the books of this imaginative welsh writer must appear on my list.Although I've read Slow Bullets, his short novel that won the Locus in 2016, I am fan of the author mainly for his novels, so the anthology that I present today, Beyond the Aquila Rift has been a great opportunity to know his best stories and novellas.
To start I will say that I think Reynolds has a lot of merit to keep in so few pages the sense of wonder and the style that characterizes his novels: large structures, travel between the stars, artificial intelligences, contact with alien cultures, stories covering large temporal lapses, body modifications, and often a little dose of terror.
I have really enjoyed all the stories, the 18, it is surprising the uniformity of quality of the stories in this anthology; I can't highlight one above the others, and I wouldn't eliminate none of them, that's difficult in a anthology like this.
Most of the stories can be classified as space-opera, which is the specialty of the author, but some forays into other genres, such as exploration and colonization of planets in the solar system, and a couple deal with an innovative approach to ecological problems related to exhaustion of certain natural resources.
Some of the stories are located in the universe of the saga of Revelation Space scenario where I like to come back from time to time, and one of the stories is related very directly with the novel House of Suns, but I think readers who have not read these books can also enjoy reading these stories.
Although the themes are very different, all stories have a very similar structure, they follow a formula that works perfectly: an introduction that provides little explanation and raises a very intriguing situation and quickly engages the reader, a plot development in which the doubts that appear in the introduction are solved, and a resolution often surprising, and sometimes a little abrupt.
The fact that this structure is repeated is what leads me to recommend reading this anthology combined with other different books, altought they are very good, it's prefereable not to read it altogether, to avoid a feeling of tiredness of the structure.
I've discovered that I like both Reynolds at short distances and long distances. I highly recommend it to any science fiction lover, and therefore, this anthology has to be present in all the shelves of his followers.