BOOK REVIEW: Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds

Title: Elysium Fire

Author: Alastair Reynolds

Publisher: Gollancz

Published: 25 January 2018

RRP: Hardback £18.99 ebook £9.99 Audio £19.99


A brilliant new mystery from the author of ‘The Prefect’.

Featuring Inspector Dreyfus- one of Alastair Reynolds most popular characters- this is fast paced SF crime story, combining a futuristic setting with a gripping tale of technology, revolution and revenge. One citizen died a fortnight ago. Two a week ago. Four died yesterday… and unless the cause can be found- and stopped- everyone will be dead. For the Prefects, the hunt for a silent hidden killer is on.

From the mind of a lauded author comes a thriller that offers both utopia and dystopia depending on which end of democracy you stand. Alastair Reynolds, shortlisted for prestigious prizes such as the Arthur C. Clarke award and the British Science Fiction Award does not disappoint.

In a Utopian existence in the Glitter Band, citizens are linked to each other, information is shared and voting is offered and required on every subject. Everyone has a voice. The system is trusted and transparent. No militia, no crimes and no social tensions.

The Prefects stand at the edge of this world. Where small snags in the system occur, barely tangible waves in the flow of democracy, they face that which is the exception to the life of all citizens. They are forced to confront the holes in the Utopia that ordinary citizens would rather not acknowledge. This makes them outsiders, fringe members of society, required but untouchable.

Protected by their robotic whiphounds and the comradery of their elite team, Prefects carry out their duties in the face of hostility and combat from citizens. When it becomes apparent that something else is pulling the threads of society, that civilians are in danger of a greater threat that turns the democratic system, the implants of everyone in the Glitter Band against itself only the Prefects are equipped to find out what is going on.

The novel moves at a pace that is almost impossible to keep up with. Whether through choice of format or literary design, the story is written in a series of completely interlocked segments that follow the key characters towards the bitter conclusion. In a race to find the source of the killings that goes to the heart of the Glitter Band, the Prefects face torture, elite secret services and corruption that goes to the highest echelons.

In the way of Divergent, Maze Runner and others that have gone before the key to the genius of this book is the pace, the endless bombshells and cliff hangers that conclude each brief encounter. They leave the reader breathless as each character faces jeopardy and on the same page, the very next sentence we are thrown into another protagonist’s journey with no warning, no chapter change just a sharp curve in the road. This is disconcerting in the beginning but once embraced an enthralling style that leads to compulsive page turning. As the story swerves in its telling so too does its conclusion the unexpected is the centre of this incredible story telling and all plaudits are greatly deserved by Reynolds.


Rating: 5/5

Reviewer: The Aviator

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