Book Review: Eversion by Alastair Reynolds
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Orbit (August 2, 2022)
Length: 432 pages
Author Information: Website
I confess, I haven’t had the best luck with Alastair Reynolds. I had the worst time with the first book I ever read by him (the title of which I can’t even remember anymore, it was that lackluster) so ever since then I’ve stayed far away.
But something about Eversion spoke to me. The book’s synopsis teased a sci-fi adventure across time and space, inviting readers to figure out a grand mystery. What does a sailing ship off the coast of Norway in the 1800s, a exploration zeppelin in the Antarctic in the 1900s, and a space ship seeking alien life in the far flung future all have in common?
For one, Dr. Silas Coade, a young assistant surgeon is at the head of all three narratives. Sailing on the Demeter, he first describes a treacherous journey through the icy narrow passages of the Norwegian straits as the expedition seeks a mysterious construct known as the Edifice. When disaster strikes, the Demeter meets the same fate as others ships that have attempted this doomed quest. Without skipping a beat though, readers next find Silas on a steamship, and next a dirigible, and finally on a spaceship. Basically, each time something terrible happens to end the expedition, but we always find ourselves in another time through the eyes of another incarnation of Dr. Silas Coade on a mission to search for the elusive Edifice. So just what is going on here?
Mind-bending does not even begin to describe Eversion. It’s definitely something special, and the entire plot is a puzzle to be solved. But even beyond that, there’s just an epicness to the difference pieces that make up this novel, from the harrowing maritime setting of the 1800s, to the steampunkish elements of adventure aboard an early twentieth century airship, and finally to the high-tech starship in the vast expanse of outer space. Even though there is a repetitiveness to the structure of the story, it grabbed me from page one. Obviously I cannot give away the answers, but I will say there are clues from the beginning that will make the gears in your head turn.
The characters also had such a big role to play in this. Silas is well-written and sympathetic. You only get to know a part of him when the book begins, but it’s enough to know that he’s a caring and dedicated doctor, well-liked among the crew. As the story progresses, we get to meet Silas in the other timelines and learn more about him as more of his personality and motives are revealed. And the beauty is that the full picture won’t be revealed until the very end.
Still, even when the mystery is solved, there is more. The final section of Eversion is probably the most rousing and exhilarating, thanks to the buildup of everything that came before. It gathers up all the threads and ties them up pretty well, and touches on some deeper philosophical themes about one’s existence and purpose.
Ultimately Eversion might not be anything like Reynolds’ space opera, but I honestly believe that’s to its advantage. This was a very clever and unique book and has single-handedly reawakened my interest in checking out more the author’s work.