Aug 8, 2011

Alastair Reynolds - Century Rain

We are in Paris and it is the 50s. Wendell Floyd is an American who came to Paris to become a jazz musician. He still plays, with his partner André Custin but the mostly work as private detectives nowadays. They are hired to investigate the apparent suicide of a young american woman called Susan White. Although Susan is found dead outside her aparment, her landlord does not believe that she jumped.

The next chapter seems to belong to a completely different novel as we find ourselves in a very dissimilar Paris. The whole Earth is abandoned due to a nanotechnological holocaust.

In the mid-2070s, weather control nanomachines were released into Earth's atmosphere and oceans in an attempt to reverse global warming. In late 2076, some of these machines became sentient and stopped obeying orders. In response, more intelligent machines were released in an attempt to control them. By July 2077, a total of eight layers of machines had been released, but the weather continued to get worse. At this point the nanomachines started eating everything in the sea to fuel themselves. They then moved to land, and on 27 July, digested humanity. The only people to survive were those in space habitats. To add insult to injury, fifty years after the Nanocaust all linked digital archives were corrupted, although it is not known whether this was sabotage or an accident.

As a result of the Nanocaust and the Forgetting, humans split into two groups, the Threshers and the Slashers. Threshers believe that it should never be able to happen again, and reject the nanotechnology that led to the Nanocaust, preferring to stay on the threshold of dangerous technology, hence their name (a diminution of Thresholders). The Slashers do not believe they should be limited by what happened in the past and embrace new technology. Their official name is the Federation of the Polities, but they trace their existence back to "an alliance of progressive thinkers linked together by one of the first computer networks", whose symbol was a slash and a dot.

The Threshers control access to Earth (or what remains of it), the orbiting structure around it known as Tanglewood, and Mars, after a hard-fought war against the Slashers. The Slashers control the rest of the known universe, including access to an ancient portal network that spans the galaxy.

Verity Auger is in this Paris because she's an archaelogist but the dig goes wrong and one of her assistants is killed. She's accused of negligence and must stand trial but is finally manouvered into accepting a high risk assignment, without knowing what it entails. She is taken to a secret underground base on the Martian moon Phobos containing an ancient alien relic that opens a portal to a distant part of the galaxy. At the other end of the portal is an alternate-history version of Earth in the year 1959 - almost 300 years behind the present time - and that she is to retrieve a tin of documents that was left behind by Susan White, an earlier agent sent to "Earth Two", who died under mysterious circumstances.

Via Wikipedia and The SF Site

Via Locus Online:

Alastair Reynolds spent his childhood in Cornwall, England and Wales, before earning degrees in astronomy from England's University of Newcastle (1988), and a PhD from the University of St. Andrew's in Scotland (1991). He sold his first story to Interzone, "Nunivak Snowflakes", in 1989. His notable short fiction includes "A Spy in Europa" (1997), "Galactic North" (1999), and "Great Wall of Mars" (2000) -- which prefigure the future-world space opera of his "Revelation Space" universe, the setting of novels and novellas Revelation Space (2000), British SF Association Award-winner Chasm City (2001), Diamond Dogs (2001), Redemption Ark (2002), Turquoise Days (2002), and Absolution Gap (due October 2003 in the UK and 2004 in the US), which concludes the Inhibitors' story arc of Revelation Space and Redemption Ark. He lives in The Netherlands, where he works for the European Space Agency, and lives with longtime partner Josette Sanchez.Photo by Beth Gwinn

Alastair Reynolds Homepage and his new blog Aproaching Pavonis

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