Review: Century Rain, by Alastair Reynolds

First of all I need to state that YES, I did enjoy reading Alastair Reynold‘s Century Rain. But. And that’s a large BUT – a 530 page story that needs 250 (or so) pages for setting the stage, then captures for the rest of the ride, only to end in a dissapointment?

Reading a 530 page story is an investment – I set off time to read, and I want to get something in return. But when I finally closed the covers for the last time I was left with an impression of rather large deficiencies in the plot department, like a lot of nice scenes being patched together.

For the record I’m not averse to idea driven stories. I like the exploration of an interesting idea or three just as much as I enjoy good character development, and if the ideas are interesting enough I can live without the characters developing at all as long as they are believable and well drawn. But when the protagonists starts to do things out of character I’m unimpressed.
Examples of this is when Verity cried while leaving Floyd on E2, when she’s else described as pretty hardheaded, or Floyd, elsewhere described as stubborn, when he don’t want to spend his life without her don’t react much at that same occasion. Also it seems rather shallow of Floyd to suddenly fall for Auger when he has held out all these years, waiting for Greta’s improbable return.

The reason for these inconsistencies are, of course, that romance is only ever hinted at when it helps drive the story – else it’s unessential and not developed. But to make the romance believable when it’s needed as a plot device it needs to be sustained throughout the story. This lack of consistency messes with the balance of the story and takes focus off from the ideas. I’m sure some classical editing would help, as when an editor or alfa-reader suggests things to the author. As now I think Reynold’s rather awesome potential goes underdeveloped.

But I know – as long as his books moves off the shelves and into peoples’ homes no publisher is going to pay for a proper editor. And that’s more a comment on the sorry state of publishing than it is on this book which, after all, was worth the time it took reading it.

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