After Terminal World, this is the second disappointing book I read by Reynolds. Long story short: while there is a great story in this book (a lot better than the story of Terminal World), it is marred by a terrible and totally unbelievable subplot involving the 2 protagonists behaving like children, and nobody of the crew minding that. That’s a crying shame, because it doesn’t do justice to the story’s potential and it takes a lot of fun out of the reading, since it’s so damn irritating. With some good editing, the 515 pages of Pushing Ice could have been reduced to an excellent page-turner of 350 pages.
I seriously considered giving up after 150 pages, pushed on anyhow, but was or irritated or bored out of my mind, because of serious drag issues and bad characterization. Childlike behaviour and bad decision-making aplenty, plus the fact that the numerous side characters were – aside from their names – simply indistinguishable from each other.
Things got better in the final 4th of the book, because the bigger story arc became more dominant, but in the finale the conflict between the protagonists again played, and some characters started to behave utterly stupid again. It felt like watching Prometheus.
The ending leaves room for a sequel. If Reynolds decides to come back to this universe, I hope he doesn’t make the same mistakes he made in this book.
So, another Reynolds’ book that will go to the second-hand shop. I haven’t given up on him though: I thought the Revelation Space trilogy was overall brilliant, as was House of Suns. I still have some hope for the Poseidon’s Children trilogy, Chasm City, The Perfect and Slow Bullets.
Reynolds veterans might give this a go, since the book does have lots of neat ideas sprinkled around in it, but be aware of what I’ve written above. All other space opera/hard SF fans: first try if Revelation Space or House Of Suns appeals to you.
originally written on the 20th of June, 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.)