The way Alastair Reyonlds tells it, he wrote the final story of the Merlin series first. Back in 2000, Reynolds wrote “Merlin’s Gun.” Humanity was being exterminated by evil alien cyborgs called the Huskers (think the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica or Fred Saberhagen’s Berskerers). Merlin, a survivor of a planet the Huskers destroyed, embarks on a quest for a super-weapon that will defeat the Huskers and save Humanity. Later in 2000, Alastair Reynolds wrote the beginning story to the Merlin series: “Hideaway.” Five years later, Reynolds wrote Minla’s Flowers which brings Merlin into conflict with more primitive humans who are warring while the Huskers are about to exterminate them. Then, in 2016, Reynolds published The Iron Tactician (with a cool Chris Foss cover!) where Merlin has to solve a mystery in a Royal Family while once again humans war among themselves despite the Husker threat. If you enjoy Space Opera, you’ll enjoy the Merlin series. Big ideas, stories that span thousands of years, and Super Science concepts are all part of the fun! Three of the Merlin stories can be found in the Orion Books version of Zima Blue (2009) (Table of Contents below). The Iron Tactician was just published by NewCon Books.
Introduction by Paul J. McAuley
“The Real Story” (Originally published in Mars Probes, edited by Peter Crowther, 2002)
“Beyond the Aquila Rift” (Originally published in Constellations, edited by Peter Crowther, 2005)
“Enola” (Originally published in Interzone 54, December 1991; unavailable since then in English)
“Signal to Noise” (Originally published in Zima and Other Stories Nightshade Books 2006)
“Cardiff Afterlife” (Originally published in The Big Issue Cymru, August 2008)
“Hideaway” (Originally published in Interzone 157, July 2000; unavailable since then)
“Minla’s Flowers” (Originally published in The New Space Opera 2005)
“Merlin’s Gun” (Originally published in Asimov’s SF, May 2000; unavailable since then)
“Angels of Ashes” (Originally published in Asimov’s SF, July 1999; unavailable since then)
“Spirey and the Queen” (Originally published in Interzone 108, June 1996)
“Understanding Space and Time” (Originally published in a limited edition of 400 copies for the Novacon 35 Sci Fi convention)
“Digital to Analog” (Originally published in In Dreams edited by Paul J. McAuley and Kim Newman, Victor Gollancz, 1992)
“Everlasting” (Originally published in Interzone, Spring 2004)
“Zima Blue” (Originally published in Postscripts magazine, issue 4, edited by Peter Crowther)

8 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #407: THE IRON TACTICIAN By Alastair Reynolds

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    I have read several Reynolds novels and have enjoyed them but have not read all his shorter fiction. Read his newest novel Revenger last year and didn’t much care for it.I do have his best of from Subterranean Press just haven’t got around to it yet.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, I prefer Alastair Reynolds’s earlier work to his later work. Around 2000, Reynolds was at the top of his game. My favorite of his SF novels is The Prefect. London: Gollancz, 2007, ISBN 0-575-07716-6. It’s also one of Reynolds’s shorter novels.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    I’ve got a couple of his – CENTURY RAIN is one – at home, unread. I think I’ve read some of his stories.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, Alastair Reynolds is a Big Picture, Big Idea guy. You have to be in the mood for a story where the characters are moving planets around!

    1. george Post author

      Rick, Alastair Reynolds plays the Long Game in his SF novels. If you want to read one of his shortest and best novels, I’d recommend THE PREFECT.

    1. george Post author

      Scott, I love the Chris Foss cover! I appreciated THE IRON TACTICIAN more after reading “Hideaway” and MINLA’S FLOWERS. “Merlin’s Gun” made me sad.


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