I love the “Big Dumb Object” trope that Reynolds uses here. It just seems so… possible. That something we don’t understand is out there, waiting for us to find it. Some almost unfathomable relic of an alien civilisation. I think Reynolds uses that trope pretty well in Troika: it’s a neatly executed little novella, with a good twist at the end. It may not seem much to look at — it’s quite a slim volume — but Alastair Reynolds writes well, and the structure is well-executed (much as I usually dislike stories where you go back and forth between past and present).
I’m not sure why Reynolds chose the idea of a Second Soviet to frame the story, but it worked well for me. It was a bit of a shock to go from the vague idea that this was Soviet Russia — the first Soviet Russia — to realising that this is a later Russia, post-internet, post-freedom.
I didn’t get the strongly pro-space travel vibes from this that other reviewers seem to have done. To me, the situation in Russia overshadowed the possible touches of commentary on that. If anything, there was maybe a criticism of using space as a means to an end (political, to show superiority, etc) rather than as an end in itself.
4 thoughts on “Review – Troika”
I’ll have to add this to my list. I’ve only read a few Reynold’s stories, but I am very impressed with him. I think my first experience with his work, Chasm City, remains one of my favorite sf novels. His books are usually not slight, so having a relatively quick Reynolds read sounds wonderful.
I definitely recommend it — he certainly knows how to turn a shorter story. I liked Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days (I think that was the title) too, a collection of two novellas.
I was actually glancing at that one on my shelf this weekend and was considering reading it because I knew I could get through it quickly, but I opted to try to finish a few books I had already started. Glad to hear that you liked it.
He’s extremely good at structuring novellas. He probably writes killer short stories, too, if he can apply the same theory — I haven’t read any by him (if I remember rightly) but if I could twist the end of the story to cast a new light on the rest the way he does, just once, I’d be really, really happy.