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Troika by Alastair Reynolds

1/07/2011. Contributed by Gareth D Jones

Buy Troika in the USA - or Buy Troika in the UK

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pub: Subterranean Press. 114 page deluxe hardback. Price: $35.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-376-1.

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Already nominated for a Hugo Award after its initial publication in the Godlike Machines anthology, Alastair Reynolds’ novella ‘Troika’ has now been published as a standalone volume by that great server of the public interest, Subterranean Press, who continue to produce an impressive line-up of talent in wonderful packaging. I read the book in a single sitting in Eindhoven Airport, as one does and found it to be an enjoyable and engrossing tale that did far more than merely while away the time while drinking tea and eating a baguette of uncertain content.

The story starts in a Russian blizzard, where a former cosmonaut named Dimitri has escaped from incarceration several years after discovering something the authorities did not want to be made public. The setting seems at first a little out-of-date with its Soviet references and space race allusions, but it soon becomes evident through back story and subtle technological references that we’re in a near-future Soviet Union where many things are the same, but things are just a little bit different. This adds a solidly realistic basis for the astonishing scale of the Matryoshka object that Dimitri and his colleagues were sent to investigate as it orbited the solar system.

There is a fair amount of foreshadowing in the sections where the escaped Dimitri attempts to find a figure from his past, but these strike a fine balance between building the tension and giving away the outcome of the mission. There’s also a fine balance between mentioning incidents and then playing others out in flashback, giving a rounded feel to the story.

As you would expect from the likes of Alastair Reynolds, it’s a well-written story. There’s tension, adventure and emotional resonance that keep you engaged to the end in the mystery of the Matryoshka and just what it is Dimitri is running away from.

Gareth D. Jones

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This book has 12 votes in the sci-fi charts

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