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.
I am happy you liked it 🙂
I didn’t know abou tthis one but it looks interesting. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi but I’m trying to read more and more of them
I’m happy that Eversion managed to counterbalance your previous negative experience with Reynolds: it’s a very peculiar, very intriguing story I will think about for a long time still… 🙂
(and if you’re thinking about exploring other Reynolds’ works, I might suggest Chasm City: it’s part of his “Revelation Space” universe, but it’s a standalone, and so a good introduction to the saga)
I never saw this for request in any of Orbit’s newsletters so I’m wondering if I’ll have the chance to read it or not…
I think they had super advance copies in April or May. Still, I’ll bet you could just ask now, right? Can’t hurt;)
And I need to try his work one of these days
Awesome! Glad you liked it! So far everyone I’ve seen read it has enjoyed it. I really need to get to this before it comes out!
I’ve only read one of his books, and this one caught my eye after seeing it… somewhere. I’ll admit that premise got me thinking, too. Now I want this one even more after seeing your thoughts. It sounds different enough from his other stuff too… my only experience was with PErmafrost, which also was a departure from his usual fare?
Thankfully I had the exact opposite experience with Reynolds’ work. I read and loved Revelation Space when it came out and I’ve been hooked ever since. This does sound very different from anything else I’ve read by him and I’d very much like to give it a try. I’m glad this one worked for you. 🙂
Great review and a very interesting book. I’ve read a couple of Reynolds’ books and liked them but never had to urge to get more. This one sounds like a winner.
Pingback: Bookshelf Roundup: 07/23/22: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum
Was it Revenger, per chance? I love his Revelation Space books, but that trilogy was a poor dip, I thought.
Ooh, colour me intrigued. I usually avoid the space opera novels but this one sounds different and definitely intriguing.