Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pushing Ice - by Alastair Reynolds

Pushing Ice is yet another work of classic science fiction from Alastair Reynolds, who gave us the excellent Revelation Space series and Century Rain. It's an interesting tale of alien contact and the complex interactions of a spaceship crew caught in a situation beyond their control…
Humanity harvests the heavens for comets and their bountiful cargo of water ice, essential for the growing economies of Earth. The comets are fitted with nuclear powered mass driver engines and programmed to head towards Earth orbit where they are picked up and processed. They call it pushing ice!

Bella Lind and the crew of ice-mining ship Rockhopper are looking forward to finishing off their latest comet and getting some much needed R&R but when Janus, one of Saturn's moons, breaks orbit and starts to head out of the solar system under its own power, mankind is understandably intrigued.

Rockhopper is the only ship close enough to investigate and the crew agree to shadow the moon for a few days and gather as much information as they can before it passes beyond reach. However, once within the gravitational pull of Janus, events force Bella to make a decision that changes all of their lives and has repercussions reaching into the far future of humanity.

Pushing Ice is hard-core science-fiction tale of space exploration and attempts to answer the age old question of whether mankind is alone in the vastness of the universe and how, if we're not, would an alien race attempt contact with such a primitive species as us. The concept of them leaving a ship disguised as a moon and which is triggered into action by our forging into space isn't new but it is one that requires us to think big. The title is a little misleading as it's not about pushing ice at all and, once the Rockhopper starts its investigation of Janus, we hear nothing much of that trade again.

On the whole I enjoyed the book but Pushing Ice is a work of vast scope, spanning a lot of time and I think that's where the problem lies. Like Marrow, it tries to do just too much and I eventually got a bit bored with it as it didn't seem to be going anywhere fast and the characters weren't developing any further and were getting too predictable.

Worth reading but his earlier work is much better.

Genre: Science Fiction
ISBN: 0-575-07815-4
My Rating: 7/10

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