scifi blog — Century Rain

I read this novel a few years ago, before I moved to Paris. I’ve now left. I’m listening again, this time on audio. I’ve wanted to know, for ages, what metro station is central to the novel. I know the station in the novel, and now I know the station in real life.

I've two things to say now, before I finish the novel again. Firstly, there seem to be connections with Reynolds’ Terminal World and Blue Remembered Earth (the first Poesidon’s Children novel). In Century Rain, the central belt of Mars has been caught and destroyed in a war involving nanotech weaponry. This sounds like the dead zones in Terminal World, which only really makes sense if Mars is the victim of a nanotech burp–slash–conflagration, although if the novels are connected the burp–slash–conflagration has progressed a lot from one to the other. In Blue Remember Earth, an alien artifact is found on Phobos, which makes no sense to the novel itself, in fact rather ruins it for me (but will probably prove significant as the series develops). An alien artifact found on Phobos is central to Century Rain.

The book is set three hundred years in the future, and in a 1958 alternative history Paris. In the alternative history, the Nazi invasion of France failed, Hitler was overthrown by Rommel, & the Nazis retained power.

I’m delighted to say I’ve caught Alistair Reynolds making one factual and one contextual error. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so delighted, because they shew me to be a train spotter. His novel claims Metro Ligne 6 is above ground at Montparnasse. It’s got overhead sections on either side, true, but, there, it’s underground. But the contextual error, which is far more fun, is that in the context of Century Rain’s alternative history, it would be Ligne 5. The section of Ligne 5 between Place d’Italie and what is now Charles de Gaulle Etoile was switched to Ligne 6 by the Nazis during their occupation of Paris. Come to think of it, Luke Burrage pointed out that if the alternative history is consistent, Germany would still have had Reichmarks, not D–Marks as Reynolds says. Ok, I admit it, I’m *so* petty. :-)

What picky picky boring details: I won’t let them put me off the novel.

Which doesn’t say a great deal. It’s only Reynolds’ more recent novels that hints the author is maturing. This one full of a young man’s hard edged hero/ine/s, who keep escaping even more challenging life–threatening situations. The threat–threat–threat gets a bit boring after a while. Perhaps I’m getting old.

Reynold’s strength of plot–plot–plot is present and correct. The imagination romps. The story–telling’s tight. But don’t start reading Reynolds with this one.

ancient front