Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Out now

Permafrost, my new novella from Tor books, is published today.

Here's the description:

Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future. Master of science fiction Alastair Reynolds unfolds a time-traveling climate fiction adventure in Permafrost.

2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity's future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global catastrophe while at the same time leaving recorded history intact. To make the experiment work, they just need one last recruit: an ageing schoolteacher whose late mother was the foremost expert on the mathematics of paradox.

2028: a young woman goes into surgery for routine brain surgery. In the days following her operation, she begins to hear another voice in her head... an unwanted presence which seems to have a will, and a purpose, all of its own ? one that will disrupt her life entirely. The only choice left to her is a simple one.

Does she resist ... or become a collaborator?

To reiterate, this is a novella, not a novel, so you're getting around 34,000 words of fiction, spread over about 180 pages. Were you so inclined, you could easily read it in a long sitting. I mention this because (based on prior experience) there do always seem to be some readers who expect a novel's worth of content from what is clearly marketed as a novella, and feel disgruntled when the actuality fails to meet their expectations. (These categories are somewhat arbitrary, and definitions vary, but as far as the majority of SF readers are concerned, a novella lies somewhere between 17,500 and 40,000 words. My earlier story Slow Bullets was about 45,000 words in its initial form, but we very deliberately reduced it to a shade under 40,000 just so there'd be no ambiguity about its nature.) So, please, be aware that what you're getting here is equivalent to around six or seven short stories, and perhaps a third of a typical novel, and about a tenth of a big fat doorstopper.

Writing in Locus, Liz Bourke called the story elegant, and described it as an enjoyable, engaging and thought-provoking novella, while also saying that she found the handling of time travel original. In Library Journal, Tina Panik called it "outstanding" and compared it to Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy.

Here's a link to Tor's page for the book:


And Barnes and Noble:


And Wordery:


Other retailers are available.



  1. Will there be an audiobook version of this?

  2. Finishing up Peter Watts' The Freeze-Frame Revolution today. Perfect timing to jump into another novella!

    1. ... and I'm just finishing a Scalzi. Time for a delectable Reynolds.

  3. Received my copy yesterday and will get to it once I finish reading Terminal World. I love reading your novellas as well as novels; it keeps us fans happy until the next novel drops in !

  4. +1 for news on an audiobook version sir!

  5. Sorry, I should have answered the earlier query. There's nothing in the pipeline just yet.

  6. Do you know if there is going to be a hardback edition at any point. Paperbacks just don’t sit well in the collection, plus mine is already battered from a couple of readings.

  7. Just finished the novella and was blown away, loved the characterization, setting and pace. Would love to see you write a full novel on time travel. On a side note I also finished reading Century Rain and Terminal World and really enjoyed them both.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed it Al. I was interested in how you would make time travel that little bit more believable and in line with your other more grounded in science work, and you again did it with a wonderful concept and idea. Plus you created a very believable post climate change/environmental/ecological breakdown disaster world.

  9. I loved this one just as much as I did Slow Bullets when it came out. Whilst I really enjoy the long(er) books, novellas do seem to play to your strengths.