To start with a slightly oooh-get-me observation: I bought this book from Amazon as an e-book (for 70p) and I read it using the free Kindle app on my iPhone. How 21st-century am I? Actually I'm rather smacked-in-the-gob by how smooth and enjoyable this whole experience was. I had been toying with the notion of getting an iPad in order to download fiction and such; but now I don't think I'll bother. The iPhone 4 has everything a iPad has, as well as being, er, a phone and much more portable. Moreover, I discover the one thing it lacks (size) really isn't a problem; the screen is plenty big enough for easy, convenient and non-squinty reading.
McAuley's pricing model is well judged, too. I've been browsing amazon for downloads, sometimes buying, sometimes pulling back, almost always for reasons of price -- but 70p is a no brainer. City of the Dead also happens to be a story easily digested in shorter reading bursts. Pulling the phone out of my pocket when I've a moment spare (waiting in a queue at the post office, say; hanging about whilst the kettle boils; or standing by whilst my daughter tries on one hundred and eighty seven different kinds of sunglasses in order to find precisely the right one) and reading a page, or a couple, felt very natural. All in all: two thumbs way way up.
As for the book itself: as you'd expect, City of the Dead is very good. An alien species, the 'jackaroo', have traded humanity the solar system for a wormhole network and access to fifteen new planets. According to the venerable Roadside-Picnickish sf trope, these worlds are littered with artefacts from long vanished galactic civilisations which will, if you can find them, make you rich. On one of these planets a town sherriff and a researcher into native 'hive rats' run into some ruthless gangsters who are searching for one such artefact. It's efficiently and effectively told; a touch of Ballard's time tombs, a smidgen of Paul's own Confluence books, and (strikingly) a healthy splash of James Herbert's The Rats all linked by the distinctive tone of McAuley's particular mode of hard SF: excellent.
I don't know how well it has gone, qua ePub experiment; but it's made me think I should at least try something similar. I'll look into it.