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Century Rain

Century Rain

Written by Alastair Reynolds

Narrated by John Lee


Century Rain

Written by Alastair Reynolds

Narrated by John Lee

ratings:
4.5/5 (51 ratings)
Length:
19 hours
Publisher:
Released:
May 4, 2010
ISBN:
9781400179596
Format:
Audiobook

Description

Three hundred years from now, Earth has been rendered uninhabitable due to the technological catastrophe known as the Nanocaust.



Archaeologist Verity Auger specializes in the exploration of its surviving landscape. Now, her expertise is required for a far greater purpose.



Something astonishing has been discovered at the far end of a wormhole: mid-twentieth-century Earth, preserved like a fly in amber. Somewhere on this alternate planet is a device capable of destroying both worlds at either end of the wormhole. And Verity must find the device, and the man who plans to activate it, before it's too late-for the past and the future of two worlds.
Publisher:
Released:
May 4, 2010
ISBN:
9781400179596
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St. Andrews Universities and has a PhD in astronomy. He stopped working as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency to become a full-time writer. Reynolds is a bestselling author and has been awarded the British Science Fiction award, along with being shortlisted for the Hugo Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award, and the Locus Award.

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What people think about Century Rain

4.4
51 ratings / 18 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Excellent. Great characters, compelling storyline, interesting premise, page-turner. What more could you ask for?
  • (3/5)
    I read this right after Peter Hamilton's double door-stopper Pandora's Star/Judas Unchained -- a battle of modern space opera mavens, so to speak. For much of this novel, Reynolds was in the lead. If less inventive in his future setting, he was much better focused on the narrative flow and much better at character development. For a while the novel alternates between two planets, as Hamilton's books often do. One planet is an future Earth several centuries after the Nanocaust has made it not only uninhabitable but practically unvisitable. We follow Verity Auger, a modern archaeologist, who ends up a pawn between the political machinations of the Threshers (her side) and the Slashers (the other side). The other planet is Earth in 1950's France, where we follow Wendell Floyd, a low-budget gumshoe. It turns out the two Earths are related neither by time nor by parallel universes, but a third option that Reynolds has fun with, even it's more magic than science. It's not too many chapters before these two narratives merge and pretty much stay that way until the end. Unfortunately, things kind of fall apart at about the 3/4 mark. First comes a chapter or so of pure info-dump on the history of the future, specifically Slashers vs Threshers. Then the relationship between Verity and Floyd becomes cliched Hollywood plotting. Worst of all though, the final chapters of the books, just as in Judas Unchained, is nothing more than one long chase, where it all comes down to the final few seconds. And the villain pursued is never seen, just as in Judas Unchained. Let's call it the Sauron factor.Enjoyable for several hundred page, but I was happy to see it end.
  • (4/5)
    This is a simpler story than most of his other work. I found it enjoyable, and a relaxing distraction from day to day life. Not the best of Alastair Reynolds, but worth reading.
  • (5/5)
    About as underrated as it get. The only downside is there is quite a few unnecessary secondary characters. The story mostly explores in depth two topics: nanorobotics and (post-) apocalypse, and touches many other related to future and space technology, as well as alternative history and 40's culture.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this story, and was sad to find it was a standalone as upon finishing I immediately looked for the sequel. However, it is a complete story in itself. The book starts off as sci-fi thriller set 200 years in the future, where an Apocalypse has rendered earth a lifeless husk, and we are following the story of an archaeologist studying the wastelands of Paris. The story then switches to Paris of the 1950s, but not a 1950s we recognize, some things that should have happened by 1959 haven't. The stories intertwine, and we are treated to a thriller where the main protagonist, aforementioned archaeologist, Verity Auger, has to complete a mission on this 1950s world as she has the knowledge of Paris at this time. She is a kick-ass character and Reynolds treats her to several near death experiences which left me on a rollercoaster ride of emotion, wondering if she, and the other characters I had come to care about with little, but careful, character development, were going to make it. Recommended.Audio-book version:I listened to the auido-book narrated by the British John Lee. He did an excellent job with the many female voices, and his narration was very even and I now associate Alastair Reynolds with John Lee's narration.
  • (5/5)
    This might be my favorite Al Reynolds yet. I enjoyed his take on the detective story juxtaposed with his quality of space opera.
  • (4/5)
    ★★★-3/4 rounded up to 4 stars.Almost a solid 4-star read for me. The concept and world-building are just so damn cool. If it weren't for a few eye-rolling moments having to do with character motivation... For instance, the lovey-dovey stuff after the sphere falls on Floyd in the German factory scene just seemed suddenly grafted on. Not to mention that he is described as BLEEDING COPIOUSLY FROM HIS HEAD! Instead of getting all kissy-face with him, perhaps Auger should have done something else? Like, maybe try to STAUNCH THE BLEEDING?!? I'm not sure what Reynolds was thinking there. I don't have a problem with them falling in love, that seemed a likely eventuality from long before they actually met. It was the circumstance where they first expressed their affections that rang a dissonant note. Ah well... thankfully, most of the book is filled with better-written scenery and is therefore pretty darn brilliant.Conceptually, the stuff Reynolds has dreamed up is rather mind-boggling:- Archaeological digging in the midst of nanobot 'Furies'? Check!- A noir detective murder whodunit mystery? Check!- Wormholes leading to ALS's (Anomalous Large Structures) - a galactic subway system! - all left behind by technologically advanced but unknown creators? Check!- Political intrigues between factions of humans still alive after the nanocaust? Check! (hrmm... who to trust? who to trust?)- Off-Earth habitats in the year 2266 interacting with Earth in 1959? Check! (nope, not by time-traveling - this whole part is just beautifully imagined.)- War-babies? Check! (oh man, were they ever a nice creepy touch!)- A super-duper secret planet-killing weapon mystery that needs to be solved before the world goes nano-boom? Check!- A Hollywoodish carspaceship-chase in wormhole space? Check!All in all, I really liked this book. It was a great first Reynolds for me. I just wish some of the romantic aspects had been handled with a skosh more elegance.
  • (4/5)
    I can't remember why I first picked up this book, but I read it twice very soon after getting it (and believe me, it's another of those on the "to read again" list). There's something of the detective novel in it, and it's certainly sci-fi -- not quite sure if it goes into cyberpunk, because I'm no good with genres. There are two parallel stories in this that converge, and the best you can hope for is a bittersweet ending. I read the whole book in about half a day because I really didn't want to put it down. In-world politics, amusing little anecdotes (overly intelligent control systems formed fungi on the ocean into the shape of a rude gesture, if I recall rightly), some near inevitable commentary about the evils we're inflicting on earth... There's also an element of time travel, and alien intelligences, and the sense that there's something bigger hanging around outside the story... As I said, I loved it.

    (I gave my copy to my sister, who despite not being much of a reader, loved it madly.)
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    While promising at first, Century rains fails misserably to deliver during the last third (or, if you will, last half)of the book. Character developement falls together in a pile of dust on the floor and the people you thought you had a feel for turn out to behave in totaly new ways. It almost feels like the author finally realised that he had to finish the book, and fast; and so he did.The book attempts to explore certain parts of transhumanism, such as integration with nano-machinery and the effects it has on both individuals and society as a whole, as well as the consequences it might have on the planetary ecology. As far as these attempts go, they are ok. They only barely skim the surface of the quetions raised though and thus leave you with little to feed your curiosity.All in all, you are better of reading one of the authors earlier books. worthy of note also is the fact that this is not party of the series, nor the universe, detailed in Revelation Space. While Alastair Reynolds try to maintain the 'reality' feel of those previous works, holes in the plots leave this work feeling much less planed and, ultimately, much less credible.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)
    I found this book to be a compulsive page-turner; something I wasn't expecting. Given that Reynolds is noted for his strict real-world physics approach (even if he does probe the boundaries of the possible from time to time), I wasn't entirely expecting an alternate history novel from him. But Reynolds has found a way to deliver such a thing in a manner totally consistent with "real" physics.The story concerns archaeologists excavating a post-disaster Earth that has been ravaged by uncontrolled nanotechnology, and a noir thriller plot set in a 1950s Paris - but not the Paris we are familiar with. The two are linked via wormhole technology - again, well described with a proper feel for the technicalities that a practical application of such technology would involve.The Parisian scenes are well written and vivid; Reynolds acknowledges a debt to Georges Simenon; film fans should think of Dassin's 'Rififi' to get the feel of the piece. About two-thirds of the way through, the Paris character experiences conceptual breakthrough and comes into the future world, and I was concerned about the gear change the novel goes through into space opera. I needn't have worried; the action was seamlessly added in, and was itself both exciting and strange. (Even the fact that one character appeared to spring out of nowhere didn't cause too many problems, as that character never actually appeared on-stage, which in retrospect seems strange but at the time worked surprisingly well. Reynolds has done this trick before; it's akin to the real world, where our lives and what we do can be affected by politicians who we know a lot about, and whose decisions impact our lives directlty, but who we hardly never meet, do not interact with, and know nothing about on a personal level.)In all, a book with an intriguing premise, a puzzle that gets deeper even as we find out more, and some characters who we engage with closely.
  • (3/5)
    Century Rain was my first touch with Mr Reynolds. I guess I'll give him another chance, though I was not convinced this time.The setting of the book was great: year 1959 on Earth, there had not been the WWII, the German had failed, France and the rest of the Europe had not been invaded and occupied, the technology had not developed much since the thirties. However, something was going on in Paris, France, something strange; on the other thread of the book the 23rd century (my mistake above) Earth is dead, people live in the Near Earth space, divided into Slashers and Threshers who have a very different view on the advanced technology and its use(fulness). These separate times meet, though it is not about time travel---more imaginative than that, I must say.That is what was fine, and everything derived from here was cool.But most of what is related to the characters is not that great. They are annoyingly simple and shallow, the dialogue was ridden with way too many smart one-liners and explanatory techno babble, not to mention the 'romance' bit... Shallow characters are not an exceptional problem in this genre (space opera) but the author makes the reader spend so much time with the characters and their relations it becomes a problem here. Had he stuck with what he's good at, this would be a fine book---now it is just ok. But I've heard this is not one of his best.
  • (4/5)
    This stand-alone novel was pretty entertaining. A mixture of noir and sci-fi —partly because it involves a post-WWII Europe setting—, it delves into the split of humans who support technology without limitations (hybrids and body nanotechnology included) and those who apply it with responsibility. At times it felt a little like reading two different novels in one, and I am not completely convinced that Reynolds managed to fuse them successfully into one plot.Nonetheless, it was a good read.
  • (4/5)
    This is the first book I've read by this author - he was recommended to me by a colleague and I'm delighted to have 'found' him - I thought the quality of writing, story, and characterization were excellent. This book kept me interested all the way through - my only complaint is the ending (and specifically, I'm talking about the last two paragraphs here). I really didn't like it.
  • (4/5)
    If you haven't read any Alastair Reynolds books go and read Revelation Space, one of the best science fiction novels ever. That frankly is the main problem with this novel; after his amazing debut novels, the move away to a new topic was always going to be a bit in shadow.This is still an excellent read, with some odd and (typically) seemingly disjointed story lines. It is a sinister tale with some horrific gothic moments, but nonetheless didn't grip me as other Reynolds novels have done.
  • (5/5)
    I don't normally like alternative history, or time travel SF, but this is wonderfully done. It is hard to describe the plot without giving away spoilers because a lot of the details don't emerge until much later down the story line. Although it may sound like it, there are no spoilers in this review! The basics which the reader is left to gather in dribs and drabs is that by the years 2200 technology on Earth has progressed to detailed nanological levels, but they run amok in what comes to be known as the Nanocaust. The survivers living in an orbital community Tanglewood, split into those who abide by the precipts of the Threshold Committee and those who don't Slashers - the origin of this name is not explained but may come from the Slashdot website. Slashers want access to Earth - to fix the nanocaust and rebuild a home. Threshers don't trust the means to be better than the ends, and want to preserve what history is left. Meanwhile Floyd Wendal lives in 1950's Paris - that was never captured by the Germans. Jazz is viewed with suspicion, and computers never got started. A detective and a musician he becomes involved with Verity Auger. A Thresher who made her way to E2 through a wormhole, sent to recover information lost by her fellow agents, seeking to determine if this E2 is a timewarp gone astray, or something else entirely. Either way it is worth preserving from those who see it's inhabitants as little more than quantum dots..... Century Rain is a wonderful novel - capturing the spirit of the mid 1900s, and contrasting it with the decadent waste of today's life - how precious history is and what it means to lose touch with the very basics of being human - or conversely how free it could be to lose the shackles of the past. Read and Enjoy.
  • (4/5)
    Oh my.Let me say that again. Oh My.Three hundred years in the future, Verity Auger is a specialist in the archaeological exploration of Earth, rendered uninhabitable after the technological catastrophe known as the Nanocaust. After a field-trip to goes badly wrong, Verity is forced to redeem herself by participating in a dangerous mission, for which her expertise in invaluable. Using a backdoor into an unstable alien transit system, Auger's faction has discovered something astonishing at the far end of a wormhole: mid twentieth-century Earth, preserved like a fly in amber. Is it a window into the past, a simulation, or something else entirely?SF at its best; has cunning parallels to Casablanca; must go out and get ALL his stuff right now.
  • (3/5)
    Rather turgid mix of hard sci fi and a strange mix of 50's romance
  • (5/5)
    So is this a book about Paris just after the end of World War Two or is something totally freaky? This book messed with my mind but I read it in a weekend. Compelling, readable and nothing short of stunning.