This being a novella instead of the usual time spent building up his world, Reynolds pretty much throws the reader right into things so it takes a little while to get into the story, but once you do, it's a good read. The title refers to implants given to soldiers that contain their life histories, and as the ship fails and computer memory becomes precious, the characters must decide if they'll hold onto their past or look to the future.
While this sounds like an interesting story, it actually turned out be a little disappointing. The storytelling bit only rehashes the mythology so any reader who is evenly remotely familiar with them will not find anything new. The main plotline itself doesn't go anywhere either and finishes with a rather confusing climax. Overall, an average read that some may find interesting, but more well-rounded readers may want to look elsewhere.
The Mechanical is Ian Tregillis' latest work and has very intriguing premise: Mechanicals were created by the Dutch using magic and alchemy in the middle 17th Century. As we learn from the one POV character, the mechanicals are slaves, forced by geasa to do their masters' bidding. However, things change when one is freed from his mental bondage. It's very creative, though I didn't find it quite as interesting as the author's previous trilogy, the Milkweed Triptych. Milkweed also had a point of view from the other side and I would have liked a larger view of the world to see how plausible it is. Anyhow, I'm looking forward to the next book.
This dystopian tale doesn't do anything that hasn't been done before, but what it does do it does very well. It's less focused on the particulars of this apocalypse, but rather on it's effect on specific characters. How their lives were before the event and how they deal with things after. Some people break down along with society while others survive and adapt to their new world and find a way to move on. It's easy to see why this has gotten so much praise and it's definitely worth reading.