by Alastair Reynolds
Review by Steve Sawicki
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441020430
Date: 31 May 2011 List Price $8.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Quillion is a pathologist, working in a morgue where the frequent bodies that seem to collect on the outside ledges of Spearpoint, the tall, miles high structure where everyone lives, are taken for final disposition. Quillion has a specialty--Angels, those beings that fall from the celestial levels. Angels are modified humans who were changed so long ago that no one really remembers how or why. But that's the way with all of the denizens of Spearpoint, which is divided into very specific zones, the boundaries of which you need medication to cross.
One day an angel is brought to Quillion but before he can cut into it he realizes it is alive and bearing a message--for him. The message is simple: get out, get all the way out, they are coming for you and your survival will see their plotting come to naught. And so, Quillion meets with a friend, one of the few in Spearpoint who realize that he is also an Angel, albeit one transformed to survive in the lower levels. Soon Quillion is matched with a guide who starts him on a journey that none of them could imagine in their wildest dreams. Their travels will take them across the planet and into decision points that will determine whether everyone survives or not.
This book has dirigibles and I have to admit that I enjoy books with dirigibles. Besides that the book has a very interesting story and a hodge podge of characters that bring the phrase steampunk to fruition. Reynolds has built a very interesting world constructed around a series of circumstances in the past that have left both artifacts and events that trigger change through the entire society. And to make things more interesting, everything is changing and the circle of characters around the protagonist are key to resolving the conflicts that are becoming more common place and more intense.
This is a fun book. Besides dirigibles, the book has interesting characters, more than one twist in a complex plot, and a universe built around some very intriguing concepts. I liked the way that Reynolds worked his characters through the settings and conflicts that arose through the natural consequences related to what was happening in the world. In simple terms, it all made sense even though it was, at the same time, fantastical. Definitely highly recommended.