Title: Slow Bullets

Author: Alastair Reynolds

Publisher: Tachyon

Publication Date: June 9, 2015

Description, by Lois Tilton [Locus]: "A long independent novella, military space opera, less action-oriented than a character study. Scur, our narrator, is a soldier, conscripted for the long-ongoing war between two factions of human worlds. Her name is a strikingly harsh and ugly one in English, and it’s notable that she chose it for herself, the original version being Scurelya. Perhaps she meant it as fitting for a soldier, but all we really know is that she insists on it. It’s notable, in fact, how very little we know about her, other than a recollection of her mother’s liking for a particular poet. Her conscription was apparently illegal, but she tells us she made no resistance and did her job as a soldier as long as the war lasted. On both sides of the conflict, troops were implanted with slow bullets, memory devices that held their service records as well as a lot of personal data. Scur tells us that the data isn’t accessible to personnel without a reader device, but the information there is considered reliable. When Scur finds herself on a prisoner transport after the war, she implicitly trusts that her bullet will clear her of any charge.  In the chaos after the ceasefire, Scur was briefly captured by a sadistic enemy soldier, an incident that shows her as stubborn and determined to survive. Otherwise, we don’t know, as Scur doesn’t, exactly how she came to be on the prisoner transport ship. She just wakes up from hibernation on the disabled vessel with mayhem growing in the corridors. In partnership with a crewmember, she takes over the ship and imposes order. At this time, she has two goals—to return home and to take revenge on her enemy torturer. But as they learn more about what happened to the ship, and in fact to all the known human worlds, it becomes clear that the first goal is impossible. The future of humanity may depend on the ship’s population. ...."

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