Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days is one of Reynold's older works set in his Revelation Space universe. It's not actually a full length novel, but rather two novella's. It's also shorter than what your likely to read on a full length novel, at just under 300 pages total.
The Revelation Space universe is set somewhere apparently far away from Earth, and as such only minor references are made to it or Earth cultures. Instead it centers on a planet known as Yellowstone, whose only city is Chasm City. Alien life in the RS universe is strangely absent and mysterious (to the characters), although tantalizing artifacts and the occasional fleeting glimpse are present or referenced in the novels. As the main trilogy goes on, it becomes somewhat comparable to Mass Effect's story.
Anyway, Diamond Dogs pits a team of researchers against one such found artifact, a mysterious spire on an never habited planet called Golgatha. Inside the team finds a lengthy series of rooms each posing a mathematical challenge of increasing difficulty. Get one wrong and the spire responds...badly. Its a little on the bloody side, but honestly I have read much worse.
That about sums the plot up fairly spoiler free. So whats the verdict? 3 stars for this one. The story in interesting, and its definitely got the usual RS grimdark noir space opera to it (its why I love reading this universe). It has that in droves actually. Renolds was clearly attempting to mold certain stylistic elements into it tho. It seems he wanted it feel like an Indiana Jones adventure, something I first picked up on reading another review of the book, but which which was also made abundantly clear, as he referenced the scene with the giant ball at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, early on in the story.
So what about the end? Lets just say I wasn't impressed. Its left hanging, abrupt and unfinished. A real disappointment. Its a good story with some things to say about what it means to be human, but the ending? Meh. Squeeze out another 10 pages to finish the fucking story man!
I have less to say about Turquoise Days, than I did Diamond Dogs. The story concerns the Pattern Jugglers of the RS universe, planet spanning, oceanic, non-sentient living biomasses that are capable of storing and archiving the minds of people who swim in it.
Its a better story than Diamond Dogs in that the ending isn't isn't left hanging, although there is some niggling weirdness as if Reynold's had an hourglass going on while he wrote it and he couldn't figure out how to end it correctly in time. Still it ends much better than Diamond Dogs. The protagonist's relationship with her sister is also a very sweet sub-narrative, and altogether left me with a nice feeling.
3 stars for Diamond Dogs, 4 for Turquoise Days.
A quick word: if your interested in reading a grimdark noir space opera which features a dwindling humanity in the wake of a catastrophic disaster and a mysterious, looming alien menace, then you can't do much better than this. Start with Revelation Space, then Redemption Ark and finally Absolution Gap. Chasm City makes a nice prequel to the main trilogy, but I would save the 5th book, The Prefect for last.
Next up is Terminal World. Getting started on it tonight :)