So as you can tell, I'm an Alastair Reynolds fan. Great out there sci fi, awesome concepts and a brilliant imagination. Usually has a turn to the gothic. One of his biggest weakness is characters - so Pushing Ice is a bit of a revelation here. The characters are really the focal point of this novel. It's at heart basically a story about friendship, and how people grow apart but can also grow back together. Set against a hard sci fi backdrop thousands of years in the making, Reynolds does a great job blending the two stories together into a whole. I agree with Kimberly C that it can seem to plod at points - but these areas tend to focus on the relationships instead of fast paced adventure. The story is there, but different from his usual fare. Don't be discouraged though - plenty of brilliant imagination throughout the book from technical problems to unique alien cultures. Definitely worth the read.
Pushing Ice will go down as one of the great first contact tales.
Good underlying science fiction concepts. Great storyline. It just drags on slowly and there's a lot of drama. Not my cup of tea.