Basically an original take on time travel that isn’t time travel, and some other likable SF ideas, coupled with a detective story. Fast moving and interesting enough to keep oneself entertained, albeit predictable. Near the final 200 pages (of 600), it becomes a bit too much though, with lots of action that drags at times, and basically always is resolved by yet another deus-ex-machina.
The book should’ve been 100 pages shorter, and it had been better if some stuff hadn’t survived the cut, like the Amusica virus, that doesn’t advance the story one bit and has a silly back story. Reading the acknowledgements at the novel’s end, Reynolds read some Oliver Sacks and wanted to incorporate some of it, willy nilly.
The characters are also very good at guessing key plot elements.
A final remark, on the “war babies” – vicious adversaries to the protagonists. Evidently, Reynolds kind of reverse engineered a familiar trope in horror movies: scary ghoulish children, like those in The Grudge, are given a credible SF back story. If it weren’t so obvious, it might have worked well, evoking a shiver instead of a chuckle. Reynolds has the tendency to give similar nods to popular culture in other works as well, and it never works.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as a starting point for Reynolds’ newbies, but I did enjoy it. I just hope he returns to the Revelation Space or House Of Suns universes before he decides writing a sequel to Century Rain.
originally written on the 11th of July, 2015
(Update 10/2018: I have given up on Reynolds completely. Part of that is my evolving taste, but he’s also been writing books at a pacing that simply can’t keep up with quality. He needs to eat and pay rent, I get it, but it’s such a waste of potential.)