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Alastair Reynolds and Future History

Here are two news bits on Alastair Reynolds gleaned from the November 2006 issue of Locus magazine. (Does it surprise anyone that I’m behind on my Locus reading when I’ve got the evil forces of the U.S. Post Office working to undermine my reading schedule? Don’t get me started…) Being a huge fan of Reynoldswork, I’m keen to share.

First up is a page-and-a-half reprint of the afterword that is part of his collection Galactic North, which collects all of his Revelation Space short fiction expect for “Diamond Dogs” and “Turquoise Days” (both reviewed here) because those two stories are published together in a separate book. The Galactic North afterword talks about, appropriately enough, future histories. Reynolds goes on at glorious length about his own future history. On writing such future histories, he says:

Future histories are often dismissed as exercises in laziness: why invent a new background when you can reuse one from another story. I don’t quite agree. For my money, it’s generally more difficult to write a second story in a pre-existing universe than to make a new one up from scratch. You have to work within ground rules already laid down, which places severe limits on narrative freedom.

By the time you’re on the eighth or ninth story in a sequence, the narrative airspace can be getting awfully crowded.

Reynolds also names writers who have influenced him, like Larry Niven (for his Known Space stories), Stephen Baxter (Xeelee sequence) and Gregory Benford (Galactic Center). Citing the influence of Bruce Sterling, Reynolds goes on to say:

…I owe an equally obvious debt to Bruce Sterling, whose Shaper/Mechanist sequence blew my mind on several levels. Sterling’s future history, even though it consists of only a single novel and a handful of stories, still feels utterly plausible to me twenty years after I first encountered it. Part of me wishes Sterling would write more Shaper/Mechanist stories; another part of me admires him precisely for not doing so. Read Schismatrix if you haven’t already done so: it will melt your face.

A nice endorsement indeed! I recently had the pleasure of reading a Shaper/Mechanist story (review soon!) and can easily believe Reynolds’ claims to its coolness.

The second tidbit gleaned from Locus – there’s a lot of gleaning when reading Locus – is from the personal future of Alastair Reynolds himself: he has recently completed writing The Prefect, a standalone thriller set in the Revelation Space universe. Sweet!

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

5 Comments on Alastair Reynolds and Future History

  1. The Sterling stories are a lot of fun. There’s a relatively recent collection from Ace.

    A new Revelation Space book? Good news, but the more important news is when will we poor colonials get it? At least the Galactic North collection will be published in the US next month, huzzah!

  2. Schismatrix was brilliant. There was not much by way of plot or character, but the scenery, the ideas behind the superfuturistic future, flew up like sparks from an anvil, hot and bright.

  3. Amazon now lists Galactic North as coming in June. WTF? Hopefully that is a posting error and it is coming in January.


  4. Vukes writer x neo zero future // January 2, 2008 at 11:40 pm //

    Who loves revelation Space

  5. Who loves Revalation Space? Me, for one. Great series. Great author.

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