Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds. 
Paperback edition £8/$14 (signed by Reynolds), 
Hard cover £25/$40 (signed by Reynolds and Baxter). 
Published by PS Publishing. Introduction by Stephen Baxter. 
Review by John Berlyne
Order direct from PS PUBLISHING LLP, HAMILTON HOUSE, 4 PARK AVENUE, HARROGATE, HG2 9BQ, ENGLAND.
For further details visit <http://www.pspublishing.co.uk>


The Novella, an oft-neglected story length, has had a well deserved resurgence of late, largely - in the UK at any rate - thanks to the excellent work of Peter Crowther and his PS Publishing outfit. For those with precious little leisure time to devote to reading, the thought of being able to curl up for an evening and experience the satisfaction of an entire story (as opposed to an entire short story) is hugely appealing and for hard SF fans, you'd be hard put to make a better choice of than Alastair Reynolds' new novella, Diamond Dogs.

If you read my review earlier in the year of Chasm City (and the accompanying interview) you will be well aware that I am enormous fan of this Reynolds' work. It seems he can't put a foot wrong at the moment, providing as he does everything I want in a science fiction story - startling originality, daring concepts and ideas, rich characterizations and the technical skills to pull them all together.

Diamond Dogs is yet another small but perfectly formed masterpiece to add to the Reynolds canon. Set against the backdrop of the same invented universe seen in Revelation Space and Chasm City, it fits neatly in between the time frame of those two previous novels. Richard Swift runs into an old friend he thought to be dead but this meeting was no accident. The friend, Roland Childe has been looking for Richard in the hope of recruiting him to take part in an expedition of the most dangerous kind. A mysterious monolith on an inhospitable planet holds the promise of treasures undreamt of. The monolith, a spire, is made up of many adjoining rooms, each containing a puzzle comprised of complex mathematics. Solve the puzzle and you progress to the next room. Give the wrong answer and the unforgiving spire will perhaps lop off a limb or two - or maybe kill you in some painful fashion. Think of The Crystal Maze the way it should have been!

Along with an rich assortment of characters, Richard joins this expedition - to find out what happens, go buy the book! It's well worth a trip to the shops!

Reynolds has a knack of keeping you reading. It might be three in the morning and you've got work the next day, but you still need to turn that page to find out what happens. And then the page after that! He is an ingenious and endlessly inventive writer, filling his work with twists and turns that make for compulsive reading. His descriptive prose can be awesome at times. The various horrors played out in the spire are truly chilling and I particularly liked the wonderfully creepy and  unpleasant Doctor Trintrignant - "Silver hairs had been sculpted into his head mask, so that he resembled a bewigged Regency fop dipped in mercury."

Diamond Dogs is glam-goth science fiction played loud and is destined to become as much of a classic as the Bowie song that inspired the title. Don't miss it!

John Berlyne

jberlyne@easynet.co.uk
© 2001 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu