Review: Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds


Author: Alastair Reynolds
Released: March 19th 2019
Received: Tor ARC
Rating: 4 kitties

I received a copy of Permafrost from TOR in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Permafrost is the latest novella from the mind of Alastair Reynolds. It’s described as being a time-traveling climate science fiction adventure, and honestly, I can’t think of a better way to phrase it than that.

The novella is set in the future, one that you could really call post-apocalyptic if you felt so inclined. It’s just not the apocalypse that any of us pictured. Though realistically, it’s more likely to be the one that future generations face. Certainly more like than zombies. For better or worse.

That does admittedly make Permafrost a bit of a heavy read, but that doesn’t mean it was any less enjoyable. In fact, the heavy dose of realism helped make more science fiction elements more believable, and thus in their own way, even more interesting. It was an ideal balance, all things considered.

Spoiler Warning

Permafrost was a rapidly paced and compelling novella. In a way, I’m almost glad that it wasn’t a full-sized novel since I couldn’t put this book down. I read it all in one sitting, though admittedly by the end I was wishing that I had savored it a little bit more. When will I learn?

Throughout the course of the novella, we find ourselves jumping back and forth between different times. With a time travel novel, that probably isn’t too surprising. What was a nice touch, however, was starting the novella off at a later point, only to then go back to the beginning and explain everything. It immediately drew me in. And I’ll confess that I found myself trying to put the pieces together before they were all laid out for me. I love it when a book can get me to do that.

If you’ve read any of Reynolds’ works before, then you’ll know that his works are always clever and insightful. Permafrost is no exception, I am pleased to say. Actually, if I’m being entirely honest with you, I’m a little bit of a time-travel snob. I adore it, but only when it is done well – when you can see that the author has a solid grasp on the subject and can do justice to do. And of course, I prefer it when they make it interesting at the same time. Permafrost met all of those expectations, and then some.

I loved the intelligence behind the science fiction elements used here. You can tell that Alistair Reynolds really knows his stuff when it comes to time-travel. The hard facts balanced in with the more fictional elements truly made the whole plot come to life.

I was thrilled and excited while reading Permafrost, and that opinion hasn’t really changed since finishing it. It was brilliantly written, with compelling characters and intelligent application of science fiction norms. I’m glad I took the time to read it.

Upon finishing Permafrost I realized that I simply have not read enough of Alastair Reynolds’ works. That’s something I’m going to have to remedy as soon as possible. At least I have plenty of books to choose from!


About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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