Alastair Reynolds certainly knows enough about science fact to help make his science fiction slightly more believable. But when it comes to speculative technology, this book is all over the place.
The story (mostly) takes place in the titular Chasm City, a twisted dichotomy of ancient and futuristic technology. Ruined by a sort of techno-plague, its a dark shell of its former golden days. Filled with seedy street urchins, pompous aristocrats, and immortal thrill seekers it’s a fun place to visit, if you like all things noir.
The story follows a basic “quest” format, as the main character sets out for revenge in Chasm City, makes allies along the way, and eventually realizes that things are much more complicated than he originally thought.
Each answer leads to more questions until the main character starts questioning everything he’s ever known. There are plenty of questions along the way that keep you reading. And although the “big” twists are fairly easy to spot early on, it’s still fun watching them unfold.
Being a solid Alastair Reynolds fan, I instantly felt comfortable in his highly detailed narrative, plots within plots, multiple converging storylines, and his pretty-much-every-character-with-a-name-turns-out-to-be-very-important style.
Ultimately, Chasm City is what I call a “popcorn” book – easy to read, crazier technology, always-do-good characters, and a more intimate plot. Grab a used copy and have some fun reading for a couple nights.