Monday, May 16, 2016

Slow Bullets, by Alastair Reynolds

I'm taking a break from reading Nebula-nominated novels to read some Hugo nominated stories.  I am finding them so far without the help of my favorite SF site, Free SF Online.  The moderator may possibly have given up on the Hugos, since there is some evidence of gaming and slate voting again this year, though not as much.

I'm finding less of the fiction available free online, and much more on Amazon as stand alone short stories.  My library buys some of these, and Alastair Reynolds' novella Slow Bullets is one

Our protagonist is Scur, a soldier in a war coming to a close.  The novel starts with her capture by a noted war criminal, Orvin, who sets up to torture her using a Slow Bullet.  These are normally used to permanently store personal information about a soldier.  Physically they are bullets, with ability to propel themselves into the chest for permanent storage.  Orvin's is modified to torture.

Scur survives the torture but is swept up on a ship taking the last combatants, and others just in the way, to a prison planet.  They get there, but a breakdown in their drive has them arriving five thousand years late, with civilization apparently dead.  The story from there concerns the society they build with their damaged ship and mostly criminal passengers.

You have to work a little to accept the premise, it seems slightly awkward, but if you do the story works well.  Scur is blunt in storytelling, so the story is nice and punchy.  It's not flashy at all but it's worth the time to read and enjoy.  I give it 3 stars.

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