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Turquoise Days

Alastair Reynolds

Golden Gryphon Press

US Trade Paperback First


Publication Date: 08-15-2002

78 Pages; $15.95

Date Reviewed: 10-08-02

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2002



Science Fiction, Horror

03-21-02, 04-15-02, 07-02-02, 07-30-02, 09-20-02, 10-03-02, 10-08-02, 12-13-02, 01-07-03, 01-27-03, 02-25-03, 05-15-03

The Apocalypse need not drag out. It can play out over two years, yet seem as if it passed in a day. Even if it doesn't drag on over endless pages, that doesn't mean the Apocalypse needs to be a cheat. It doesn't have to be a trick ending or a one-liner. A cookbook, indeed. If the end of the world should come, it should definitely be as interesting and complex as that portrayed in Alastair Reynolds' powerful 'Turquoise Days'. Set in one of the worlds of his Demarchist/Conjoiner universe, this novella illuminates not only the workings of Reynolds' cleverly conceived aliens, the Pattern Jugglers, but also of the human heart.

Naqi Okpik, and her sister Mina are minor scientists studying the Pattern Jugglers as they exist on the world of Turquoise. Turquoise is a world consisting mainly of oceans and the huge floating masses of these enigmatic aliens. It's not even certain that they are sentient. Like the ocean that covers 'Solaris', they are basically incomprehensible to the humans who study them. Naqi and Mina are in a sisterly competition for status in the local scientific hierarchy. When one of the Pattern Jugglers they are studying begins to show unusual changes they are forced to make a spot decision. It will affect the rest of their lives.

These lives are beautifully detailed and created with a painterly perfection by Reynolds. The world of Turquoise is depicted in its entirety without feeling rushed or compressed. The society is layered and complex, and though the characters are few they're detailed enough to spring to life.

With all the parts in place, Reynolds is set to discuss his themes of love and loss and the possibilities of preservation and resurrection. Naqi is not just a character who reacts to the situations she finds herself in. Her actions and the responsibilities she takes -- or shirks -- play out across the backdrop of Reynolds lovely creation. Through everything shines a bright green light, the color of the inscrutable Pattern Jugglers. Expect also a strong vein of rot and slime.

Reynolds is smart enough to go slowly with his development of the Pattern Jugglers. These aliens, so reminiscent of Lem's sentient ocean covering 'Solaris', have a lot of unexplored potential at the end of this story. I'll definitely look forward to more of them in his future works. Readers who loved Lem's work, and are looking for an introduction to Reynolds should definitely try to get this novella before Reynolds' growing readers snap them all up.