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#209 Alastair Reynolds: Pushing Ice

Alastair Reynolds: Pushing Ice

Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (12 Oct 2006)
ISBN-10: 0575078154
ISBN-13: 978-0575078154
Category(ies): SF

BDOs - Big Dumb Objects - are a staple of a certain sort of SF. But in this case, the BO turns out not to be that D. When the Saturnian moon Janus (incidentally, one of the oddest actual objects in the solar system, since it and Epimetheus keep changing orbits with each other) suddenly gives up being a moon and starts departing for the outer solar system, maybe even the next one over, only one space ship is in the right place to even try to intercept. And for the Penguin class comet miner Rockhopper, it's going to be tight - there's barely enough fuel, and it'll be stressing the ship's fabric beyond any original expectation.

And when they get caught up with the moon, and swept away from all hope of ever getting back to Earth, together with first, second, well a number of alien species, life gets interesting. One feature of Reynolds is that he doesn't allow FTL travel here, no magical way to beat the speed of light. So this story takes place over generational periods. And yet the central story is that of the conflict between the Captain Bella Lind and officer Svetlana Barseghian, two women both of whom know they're right and the other dangerously wrong.

There's a slight touch of Piers Anthony's Macroscope (not everything Anthony wrote was formulaic, just everything once his publishers got him under their control). There's a feeling of Benford/Brin's Heart of the Comet. If there's a fault, it's with the behaviour of the two main protagonists, and Svetlana does invoke one massive bit of stupidity at one point. And the nasties are too obviously nasty. But on the whole, I'd say that Reynolds has produced another good one.
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