Review of Beyond The Aquila Rift by Alastair Reynolds

July 30, 2008
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Beyond the Aquila RiftBeyond the Aquila Rift
By Alastair Reynolds; Read by Tom Dheere
1 CD – 72 min [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Infinivox
Published: Feb 22, 2008
ISBN: 9781884612770
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Travel / Suspended Animation /

Beyond the Aquila Rift. It’s shorthand for the trip no one ever hopes to make by accident. The one that will screw up the rest of your life, the one that creates the ghosts you see haunting the shadows of company bars across the whole Bubble. Men and women ripped out of time, cut adrift from families and lovers by an accident of an alien technology we use but rarely comprehend.

Fiction editors. I don’t know much about how they work and I don’t much care to. More than anything in an editor, I want a gatekeeper who consistently picks stories that I like. Thinking about who that might be, I always bring one name to mind: Isaac Asimov. If Asimov liked the story then I usually did too. But Asimov is dead. If it’s new stuff today, it has to be one guy very few readers have heard of. His name is Allan Kaster. Kaster edits an ongoing anthology (released one tale at a time) entitled Great Science Fiction stories. Nowhere on the package of any Infinivox title does it say “Allan Kaster, Editor”, but he’s definitely the guy making this series live up to it’s title. I can’t remember a single Infinivox production that left me cold. They often leave me confused, frightened, hurt, awed, satisfied, or unsatisfied (but not in the wrong way). Mostly though they leave me thinking: “Please, sir, can I have another?”

Beyond The Aquila Rift is another little known novelette deserving the title “Great Science Fiction.” I say this because this story got me thinking thoughts about the nature of reality that not even Philip K. Dick couldn’t conjure. Most tales that deal with “what is reality?” type scenarios come up with a weak endorsement of something I’ll call “real reality.” Sometimes they end in another way, one more noir than mainstream. This one has it both ways and I like that. The ambivalence is itself novel, and makes the story work. This isn’t the best of Infinivox’s Great Science Fiction Stories, but it is a worthy listen. Thanks Allan!

Narrator Tom Dheere, another in Infinivox’s stable of previously unknown narrators, delivers this reading straight. It is a good reading. This is 72 minutes of thought provoking modern SF. Have a listen to a sample |MP3|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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