“Slow Bullets”. A book review.


Books by Alastair Reynolds usually include the motif of accelerated time travel, resulting from either relativistic phenomena or "ordinary" hibernation.

This is also the case in "Slow Bullets," a novella of just under 200 pages, whose characters are thawed out "slightly" after their due time, which they initially have no idea about. The spaceship, ex-luxury liner hastily converted to a flying prison, is in orbit around Tottori, where they were supposed to be heading. However, nothing adds up! Instead of the modern orbital infrastructure that was supposed to receive them, the planet is completely empty. On the surface, there are ice caps and no civilization whatsoever. Overall, a bummer.

To make things trickier, among the travelers are several thousand soldiers who fought on opposite sides in the war. And a whole lot of civilians, too, to make things more complicated.

The main character (and narrator) is Scur, a professional soldier ("soldieress"?) trying to understand what actually happened.

And I'll end my recounting of the book's content here, because a bit more and I'll spill everything.

As for originality, I would, in my opinion, give the book a rating of zero. All its fantastic elements can be found a million times over in the whole of SF: subspace tunnels, hibernators, malfunctioning spaceships, bad guys and the righteous chasing them, technological and moral dilemmas. Nothing new.

On the other hand, the novel is quite pleasant to read. Our brains readily absorb familiar mush - so although the book lacks originality, I still consider it worth the sin. The plot is linear, yet it has a few quite unexpected twists. There are no longueurs, the action flows quickly and smoothly. Generally - I recommend it.

My personal rating: around 7/10.


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