Monday, June 8, 2015

Slow Bullets

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds
Tachyon: 6/9/2015
eBook review copy, 192 pages
trade paperback ISBN-13: 9781616961930

My Thoughts:

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds is a highly recommended novella that should please science fiction fans.

Scurelya Timsuk Shunde is a conscripted soldier who goes just by the name Scur. The war is supposed to be over and a ceasefire in effect but that doesn't prohibit war criminal Orvin from capturing Scur and torturing her. All soldiers have a slow bullet implanted, sort of dog tags only more closely resembling the implanted id chips used for dogs. The slow bullet carries all their personal information. Orvin, to torture Scur, shoots a different kind of slow bullet into her, one that is meant to slowly painfully kill her by moving through her body to her heart. When Orvin leaves, Scur begins to cut the slow bullet out of her leg. She wakes up in an unknown place at an indeterminate time.

Scur sort of saves and takes as a prisoner Prad, and discovers she is on the Caprice, a prison ship. This skipship was also being used as a Military transport and the destination was supposed to be the planet of Tottori, but things seemed to have gone terribly wrong. Now the passengers on the ship are waking up too soon and it appears fraction are developing, with violence an obvious result. Scur also sees that her nemesis, Orvin, is on the ship and she is determined to make him pay. At the same time they need to figure out where they are since none of the obvious facts make sense.

This story focuses tightly on the character of Scur and the story and all of the action is through her point of view. Reynolds is an accomplished writer so he pulls off this comparatively short novel but he leaves you wanting more. It easily could have been expanded to a larger novel with a more complex plot.  At the end of the novel, though, the tight focus makes sense. Reynolds shows growth in Scur's character, raises some satisfying questions, and ultimately leaves us with hope.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Tachyon for review purposes.

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