Revelation Space (Revelation Space Series #1)

Revelation Space (Revelation Space Series #1)

by Alastair Reynolds

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Overview

The highly-acclaimed first novel in the Revelation Space universe—a debut that has redefined the space opera with a staggering journey across vast gulfs of time and space to confront the very nature of reality itself...

“[A] TOUR DE FORCE…RAVISHINGLY INVENTIVE.”—Publishers Weekly
 
Nine hundred thousand years ago, something annihilated the Amarantin civilization just as it was on the verge of discovering space flight. Now one scientist, Dan Sylveste, will stop at nothing to solve the Amarantin riddle before ancient history repeats itself. With no other resources at his disposal, Sylveste forges a dangerous alliance with the cyborg crew of the starship Nostalgia for Infinity. But as he closes in on the secret, a killer closes in on him. Because the Amarantin were destroyed for a reason—and if that reason is uncovered, the universe—and reality itself—could be irrevocably altered...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780441009428
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/2002
Series: Revelation Space Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 216,631
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.25(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Alastair Reynolds is the author of the Poseidon’s Children series and the Revelation Space series. Born in Barry, South Wales, he studied at Newcastle University and the University of St. Andrews. A former astrophysicist for the European Space Agency, he now writes full-time.

Read an Excerpt

One

Mantell Sector, North Nekhebet, Resurgam, Delta Pavonis system, 2551

There was a razorstorm coming in.

Sylveste sood on the edge of the excavation and wondered if any of his labours would survive the night. The archeological dig was an array of deep square shafts separated by baulks of sheer-sided soil: the classical Wheeler box-grid. The shafts went down tens of metres, walled by transparent cofferdams spun from hyperdiamond. A million years of stratified geological history pressed against the sheets. But it would take only one good dustfall one good razorstorm to fill the shafts almost to the surface.

"Confirmation, sir," said one of his team, emerging from the crouched form of the first crawler. The man's voice was muffled behind his breather mask. "Cuvier's just issued a severe weather advisory for the whole North Nekhebet landmass. They're advising all surface teams to return to the nearest base."

"You're saying we should pack up and drive back to Mantell?"

"It's going to be a hard one, sir." The man fidgeted, drawing the collar of his jacket tighter around his neck. "Shall I issue the general evacuation order?"

Sylveste looked down at the excavation grid, the sides of each shaft brightly lit by the banks of floodlights arrayed around the area. Pavonis never got high enough at these latitudes to provide much useful illumination; now, sinking towards the horizon and clotted by great cauls of dust, it was little more than a rusty-red smear, hard for his eyes to focus on. Soon dust devils would come, scurrying across the Ptero Steppes like so many overwound toy gyroscopes. Then the main thrust of the storm, rising like a black anvil.

"No," he said. "There's no need for us to leave. We're well sheltered here there's hardly any erosion pattering on those boulders, in case you hadn't noticed. If the storm becomes too harsh, we'll shelter in the crawlers."

The man looked at the rocks, shaking his head as if doubting the evidence of his ears. "Sir, Cuvier only issue an advisory of this severity once every year or two it's an order of magnitude above anything we've experienced before."

"Speak for yourself," Sylveste said, noticing the way the man's gaze snapped involuntarily to his eyes and then off again, embarrassed. "Listen to me. We cannot afford to abandon this dig. Do you understand?"

The man looked back at the grid. "We can protect what we've uncovered with sheeting, sir. Then bury transponders. Even if the dust covers every shaft, we'll be able to find the site again and get back to where we are now." Behind his dust goggles, the man's eyes were wild, beseeching. "When we return, we can put a dome over the whole grid. Wouldn't that be the best, sir, rather than risk people and equipment out here?"

Sylveste took at step closer to the man, forcing him to step back towards the grid's closest shaft. "You're to do the following. Inform all dig teams that they carry on working until I say otherwise, and that there is to be no talk of retreating to Mantell. Meanwhile, I want only the most sensitive instruments taken aboard the crawlers. Is that understood?"

"But what about people, sir?"

"People are to do what they came out here to do. Dig."

Sylveste stared reproachfully at the man, almost inviting him to question the order, but after a long moment of hesitation the man turned on his heels and scurried across the grid, navigating the tops of the baulks with practiced ease. Spaced around the grid like down-pointed cannon, the delicate imaging gravitometers swayed slightly as the wind began to increase.

Sylveste waited, then followed a similar path, deviating when he was a few boxes into the grid. Near the centre of the excavation, four boxes had been enlarged into one single slab-sided pit, thirty metres from side to side and nearly as deep. Sylveste stepped onto the ladder which led into the pit and moved quickly down the side. He had made the journey up and down this ladder so many times in the last few weeks that the lack of vertigo was almost more disturbing than the thing itself. Moving down the cofferdam's side, he descended through layers of geological time. Nine hundred thousand years had passed since the Event. Most of that stratification was permafrost typical in Resurgam's subpolar latitudes; permanent frost-soil which never thawed. Deeper down close to the Event itself was a layer of regolith laid down in the impacts which had followed. The Event itself was a single, hair-fine black demarcation the ash of burning forests.

The floor of the pit was not level, but followed narrowing steps down to a final depth of forty metres below the surface. Extra floods had been brought down to shine light into the gloom. The cramped area was a fantastical hive of activity, and within the shelter of the pit there was no trace of the wind. The dig team was working in near-silence, kneeling on the ground on mats, working away at something with tools so precise they might have served for surgery in another era. Three were young students from Cuvier born on Resurgam. A servitor skulked beside them awaiting orders. Though machines had their uses during a dig's early phases, the final work could never be entirely trusted to them. Next to the party a woman sat with a compad balanced on her lap, displaying a cladistic map of Amarantin skulls. She saw Sylveste for the first time he had climbed quietly and stood up with a start, snapping shut the compad. She wore a greatcoat, her black hair cut in a geometric fringe across her brow.

"Well, you were right," she said. "Whatever it is, it's big. And it looks amazingly well-preserved, too."

"Any theories, Pascale?"

"That's where you come in, isn't it? I'm just here to offer commentary." Pascale Dubois was a young journalist from Cuvier. She had been covering the dig since its inception, often dirtying her fingers with the real archeaologists, learning their cant. "The bodies are gruesome, though, aren't they? Even though they're alien, it's almost as if you can feel their pain."

To one side of the pit, just before the floor stepped down, they had unearthed two stone-lined burial chambers. Despite being buried for nine hundred thousand years at the very least the chambers were almost intact, with the bones inside still assuming a rough anatomical relationship to one another. They were typical Amarantin skeletons. At first glance to anyone who happened not to be a trained anthropologist they could have passed as human remains, for the creatures had been four-limbed bipeds of roughly human size, with a superficially similar bone-structure. Skull volume was comparable, and the organs of sense, breathing and communication were situated in analogous positions. But the skulls of both Amarantin were elongated and birdlike, with a prominent cranial ridge which extended forwards between the voluminous eye-sockets, down to the tip of the beaklike upper jaw. The bones were covered here and there by a skein of tanned, desiccated tissue which had served to contort the bodies, drawing them or so it seemed into agonised postures. They were not fossils in the usual sense: no mineralisation had taken place, and the burial chambers had remained empty except for the bones and the handful of technomic artefacts with which they had been buried.

"Perhaps," Sylveste said, reaching down and touching one of the skulls, "we were meant to think that."

"No," Pascale said. "As the tissue dried, it distorted them."

"Unless they were buried like this."

Feeling the skull through his gloves they transmitted tactile data to his fingertips he was reminded of a yellow room high in Chasm City, with aquatints of methane icescapes on the walls. There had been liveried servitors moving through the guests with sweetmeats and liqueurs; drapes of coloured crepe spanning the belvedered ceiling; the air bright with sicky entoptics in the current vogue: seraphim, cherubim, hummingbirds, faeries. He remembered guests: most of them associates of the family; people he either barely recognized or detested, for his friends had been few in number. His father had been late as usual; the party already winding down by the time Calvin deigned to show up. This was normal then; the time of Calvin's last and greatest project, and the realisation of it was in itself a slow death; no less so than the suicide he would bring upon himself at the project's culmination.

He remembered his father producing a box, its sides bearing a marquetry of entwined ribonucleic strands.

"Open it," Calvin had said.

He remembered taking it; feeling its lightness. He had snatched top off to reveal bird's nest of fibrous packing material. Within was a speckled brown dome the same colour as the box. It was the upper part of a skull, obviously human, with the jaw missing.

He remembered a silence falling across the room.

"Is that all?" Sylveste had said, just loud enough so that everyone in the room heard it. "An old bone? Well, thanks, Dad. I'm humbled."

"As well you should be," Calvin said.

And the trouble was, as Sylveste had realised almost immediately, Calvin was right. The skull was incredibly valuable; two hundred thousand years old a woman from Atapuerca, Spain, he soon learned. Her time of death had been obvious enough from the context in which she was buried, but the scientists who had unearthed her had refined the estimate using the best techniques of their day: potassium-argon dating of the rocks in the cave where she'd been buried, uranium-series dating of travertine deposits on the walls, fission-track dating of volcanic glasses, thermoluminescence dating of burnt flint fragments. They were techniques which with improvements in calibration and application remained in use among the dig teams on Resurgam. Physics allowed only so many methods to date objects. Sylveste should have seen all that in an instant and recognised the skull for what it was: the oldest human object on Yellowstone, carried to the Epsilon Eridani system centuries earlier, and then lost during the colony's upheavals. Calvin's unearthing of it was a small miracle in itself.

Yet the flush of shame he felt stemmed less from ingratitude than from the way he had allowed his ignorance to unmask itself, when it could have been so easily concealed. It was a weakness he would never allow himself again. Years later, the skull had travelled with him to Resurgam, to remind him always of that vow.

He could not fail now.

"If what you're implying is the case," Pascale said, "then they must have been buried like that for a reason."

"Maybe as a warning," Sylveste said, and stepped down towards the three students.

"I was afraid you might say something like that," Pascale said, following him. "And what exactly might this terrible warning have concerned?"

Her question was largely rhetorical, as Sylveste well knew. She understood exactly what he believed about the Amarantin. She also seemed to enjoy needling him about those beliefs; as if by forcing him to state them repeatedly, she might eventually cause him to expose some logical error in his own theories; one that even he would have to admit undermined the whole argument.

"The Event," Sylveste said, fingering the fine black line behind the nearest cofferdam as he spoke.

"The Event happened to the Amarantin," Pascale said. "It wasn't anything they had any say in. And it happened quickly, too. They didn't have time to go about burying bodies in dire warning, even if they'd had any idea about what was happening to them.""They angered the gods," Sylveste said.

"Yes," Pascale said. "I think we all agree that they would have interpreted the Event as evidence of theistic displeasure, within the contraints of their belief system but there wouldn't have been time to express that belief in any permanent form before they all died, much less bury bodies for the benefit of future archeologists from a different species." She lifted her hood over her head and tightened the drawstring fine plumes of dust were starting to settle down into the pit, and the air was no longer as still as it had been a few minutes earlier. "But you don't think so, do you?" Without waiting for an answer, she fixed a large pair of bulky goggles over her eyes, momentarily disturbing the edge of her fringe, and looked down at the object which was slowly being uncovered.

Pascale's goggles accessed data from the imaging gravitometers stationed around the Wheeler grid, overlaying the stereoscopic picture of buried masses on the normal view. Sylveste had only to instruct his eyes to do likewise. The gound on which they were standing turned glassly, insubstantial a smoky matrix in which something huge lay entombed. It was an obelisk a single huge block of shaped rock, itself encased in a series of stone sarcophagi. The obelisk was twenty metres tall. The dig had exposed only a few centimetres of the top. There was evidence of writing down one side, in one of the standard late-phase Amarantin graphicforms. But the imaging gravitometres lacked the spatial resolution to reveal the text. The obelisk would have to be dug out before they could learn anything.

Sylveste told his eyes to return to normal vision. "Work faster," he told his students. "I don't care if you incur minor abrasions to the surface. I want at least a metre of it visible by the end of tonight."

One of the students turned to him, still kneeling. "Sir, we heard the dig would have to be abandoned."

"Why on earth would I abandon a dig?"

"The storm, sir."

"Damn the storm." He was turning away when Pascale took his arm, a little too roughly.

"They're right to be worried, Dan." She spoke quietly, for his benefit alone. "I heard about that advisory, too. We should be heading back toward Mantell."

"And lose this?"

"We'll come back again."

"We might never find it, even if we bury a transponder." He knew he was right: the position of the dig was uncertain and maps of this area were not particularly detailed; compiled quickly when the Lorean had made orbit from Yellowstone forty years earlier. Ever since the comsat girdle had been destroyed in the mutiny, twenty years later when half the colonists elected to steal the ship and return home there had been no accurate way of determining position on Resurgam. And many a transponder had simply failed in a razorstorm.

"It's still not worth risking human lives for," Pascale said.

"It might be worth much more than that." He snapped a finger at the students. "Faster. Use the servitor if you must. I want to see the top of that obelisk by dawn."

Sluka, his senior research student, muttered a word under her breath.

"Something to contribute?" Sylveste asked.

Sluke stood for what must have been the first time in hours. He could see the tension in her eyes. The little spatula she had been using dropped on the ground, beside the mukluks she wore on her feet. She snatched the mask away from her face, breathing Resurgam air for a few seconds while she spoke. "We need to talk."

"About what, Sluka?"Sluka gulped down air from the mask before speaking again. "You're pushing your luck, Dr. Sylveste."

"You've just pushed yours over the precipice."

She seemed not to have heard him. "We care about your work, you know. We share your beliefs. That's why we're here, breaking our backs for you. But you shouldn't take us for granted." Her eyes flashed white arcs, glancing towards Pascale. "Right now you need all the allies you can find, Dr. Sylveste."

"That's a threat, is it?"

"A statement of fact. If you paid more attention to what was going on elsewhere in the colony, you'd know that Girardieau's planning to move against you. The word is that move's a hell of a lot closer than you think."

The back of his neck prickled. "What are you talking about?"

"What else? A coup." Sluka pushed past him to ascend the ladder up the side of the pit. When she had a foot on the first rung, she turned back and addressed the other two students, both minding their own business, heads down in concentration as they worked to reveal the obelisk. "Work for as long as you want, but don't say no one warned you. And if you've any doubts as to what being caught in a razorstorm is like, take a look at Sylveste."

One of the students looked up, timidly. "Where are you going, Sluka?"

"To speak to the other dig teams. Not everyone may know about that advisory. When they hear, I don't think many of them will be in any hurry to stay."

She started climbing, but Sylveste reached up and grabbed the heal of her mukluk. Sluke looked down at him. She was wearing the mask now, but Sylveste could still see the contempt in her expression. "You're finished, Sluka."

"No," she said, climbing. "I've just begun. It's you I'd worry about."

Sylveste examined his own state of mind and found it was the last thing he had expected total calm. But it was like the calm that existed on the metallic hydrogen oceans of the gas giant planets further out from Pavonis only maintained by crushing pressures from above and below.

"Well?" Pascale said.

"There's someone I need to talk to," Sylveste said.

Reprinted from Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds by permission of Ace, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright ) 2001, Alastair Reynolds. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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Revelation Space (Revelation Space Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 130 reviews.
Jeff_Y More than 1 year ago
Whether you are in the depths of Chasm City, the Rust Belt, the wilds or cities of Resurgam or aboard the lighthugger Nostalgia for Infinity there is one question-who do you trust? It's a cold universe Alastair Reynolds has devised and the secrets that everyone keeps increases the value of trust a hundredfold. Beyond the personal truths that Daniel Sylveste hide about the father whose electronic ghost haunts and possesses him; of Captain Brennan barely alive disappearing under the Melding Plague yet still manipulating the crew of the Nostalgia for Infinity and Anna Khouri one time soldier, one time assassin, now carrying two artificial intelligences in her mind, lie the darkest secrets of the past of the galaxy itself. Secrets that despite the best efforts of aliens with vastly superior technology may yet come to the light of day. In their day the Amarantin were in many ways similar to the humans of 2561- or were they? Dan Sylveste is on a personal crusade to unveil the truth about this ancient culture and there is little that will stand in his way. Even though he is mindful of the Event, a cataclysm the destroyed all life on their homeworld of Resurgam, Sylveste will push and push until he has the truth- even if the cost is another apocalypse. Revelation Space is brilliant, complex and a challenging read. Reynolds takes the science that he is familiar with, a large interstellar backdrop and plenty of drama to create something unique. I constantly look forward to reading his work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This starts out a little slowly and is a trifle confusing for the first 75 pages (out of 650), but then picks up to a roaring, engaging pace. It's well worth the wait. I know I'll be continuing on to Nos. 2 and 3 of the series. This novel pays homage at least briefly to the Coyote series by Allen Steele. It might be somewhat helpful to have read through this series before beginning Revelation Space, but not an absolute requirement. Reynolds' writing style is unbeatable!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Revelation Space is a perfect example of dense, hard science fiction. There is a lot going on in this story and it all ties together very well. Cons - The main character is a bit under-developed despite flash-backs to his history. In fact all the characters take a back seat to the plot and settings. However, the universe Reynolds created is deep, fleshed out, and an excellent stage for his complex plot. I very much enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next 2 in the series very soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alastair Reynolds has done pretty well for his first novel. Revelation Space is a long book with a whole lot of content, which may be either bad or good depending on your taste. For me personally, it puts me to sleep. Quality-wise, you'd think that someone who works with the ESA (European Space Association) would know how to spell correctly. Mis-spelled words occur throughout the book. The story has several plotlines that blend together into one. However, many of the elements kept me guessing just what the history of everything was. I think many readers will feel like they're in the dark on this one, looking through a window rather than being part of the action. I would not recommend this book to those who are looking for explosive high-tech, impressive ideas and agreeable representation of the characters. I didn't find myself connecting with any of the characters in the story, and as I said earlier, the radical changes of events in the book had me in the dark on just what was going on. However, if you're looking for a long read that focuses on very imaginative ideas that will again, keep you guessing, this book is for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
book one lays out the story line with books two and three adding even more layers, surprises, twists, turns and all that differentiates good books from great ones. one of my favorite authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easily the best SF iv read in a while. Reminds me of larry niven with a gripping plot and a nice human aspect
Nick20 More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. The story line can become convoluted at times and I sometimes had to back up and recover ground in which I had missed something. However, it does keep you on your feet. The prose is very dense but not unapproachable. I have read more difficult books in terms of language usage but most of those were translations from other languages. Overall, this is a great sci-fi book and I look forward to reading the next in the series!
jwanga More than 1 year ago
I was looking for something broad in dimension, a true space opera I've found in the Revelation space trilogy. When an author endeavors on an 800 page book its easy to find minor criticisms. However i found that alistair used this wide canvas to paint a haunting immersive view of a distant universe in crisis. well done!
Anonymous 21 days ago
Good
Anonymous 12 months ago
this+was+a+great+story.%0A%0A
cherylthing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
chain-smoking sociopathic female spaceship captains of ambiguous orientation, women that carry their heads around on their hips like a basketball, cybernetic control systems so elaborate, extensive, complex and near-biological that the software viruses that get into them evolve into symbionts, then parasitic pervasive creatures that may or may not have agency of their own, disturbing rifts in once-human societies undergoing divergent social (and physical) evolutionary paths, then coming into conflict with one another over the light years difference -- hey! What's not to like?
petwoe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not quite what I expected. Though the ideas are big and novell ones, the storytelling especially at the begin is tedious. Especially unnerving is Reynolds technique of producing cliffhangers between parts of his story-arch. There are some things that never get explained, like how the crew and the arboretra manage in deceleration phases (everything should turn upside down), how the janitorrats survive high g-loads, how the thrust of one g is mantained when nearing lightspeed (the mass of the ship should grow extremely according to relativistic principles), what happend to Calvin and Sun Stealer once Dan was absorbed, and a lot more of these little but nagging things.Nonetheless an interesting read, if you can ignore those quirks, and enjoy the ideas behind the book.
Hercules40 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alastair Reynolds is a fantastic new voice in the world of speculative fiction. Although this book was first published in 2000, I did not read it until this year. And boy, was I missing a wonderful book.But first things first: A little bit about Alastair Reynolds, born in Wales, England. He has a Ph. D in Astronomy. For some reason, many scientists make good science fiction writers. I dunno why. Alastair has done a wonderful job here. This book tackles that eternal question people seem to ask in different ways: "Are we alone in the Universe?"Now, it is true that question has been asked before, by many Science Fiction authors in many different versions. I always enjoy reading these different "takes" (as they are called) on this theme. What's new, or refreshing in this story is neither the setting or the build-up behind it, but the originality of the characters.You know, a long time time ago, a science fiction editor by the name of John W. Campbell, decided that characters were just as important to a Scientific speculative fiction story as the underlying science, the story itself. Without characters indeed, there is no story. Alastair Reynolds achieves this in spades. It's the characters that draw you into the story. Oh, there is enough scientific exposition to make you believe that you are 500 years in the future. But Dan Sylveste and Ilia Volyova will make you believe that you are there.Dan Sylveste is investigating the "Amarantin puzzle", an extinct race, whose archaeological traces humanity has been investigating for years on different worlds. Yet, on this world that humans have colonized, the "Amarantin" seem to have accomplished something. They seem to have achieved a level of technological sophistication, maybe at the humanity's current level or even beyond, a completely unexpected development. WHY? All previously extinct races that humanity had come across had never reached this level, EXCEPT for humans themselves.There are of course the "Shrouders", an unknown conglomeration of Alien entities or Alien intelligences hiding behind a physical shroud in space which is impenetrable...and then there are the "Inhibitors". Who are the "Inhibitors"? And what do they want with humanity?I do not want to give more of the plot so as not to spoil it. Suffice it to say, that A.I.s are central to this book, as well as Light-Huggers (ships that accelerate UP TO the speed of light) -- no FTL crap in this book. Dan Sylveste's father was one of the first people capable of downloading his mind into a computer. He was also the first to make contact with the "Shrouders". Since that time, Dan Sylveste himself attempted contact with the "Shrouders". And with this set-up we're thrown into a whirlwind, action whodunit with lots of mystery. The crew of the light-hugger Nostalgia for Infinity is of course central to the plot, as well as events set in motion hundreds of years in the past.I highly recommend this book. Although, it will leave some questions unanswered, the book reaches a satisfying conclusion -- yet it leaves you hungering for more! Good thing then, that Alastair Reynolds has written 4 more books set in the same universe as "Revelation Space": 1. Chasm City (2001) 2. Redemption Ark (2002) 3. Absolution Gap (2003) 4. The Prefect (2007)
jamclash on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although the science and sheer epic stage this book revolves around is very interesting and imaginative, the over-written dialogue and descriptions of technologies, bantering between characters, and drawn out plot made this book drag for me. Finally, about page 600 or so it begins to explain things. It does make you wonder though. Why aren't there more known civilizations out there? Revelation Space presents one idea. I'll probably read the other 3 in the series.
ben_a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable space opera, and quite imaginative peri-singularity society. Overlong, but a page-turner.
JohnC100 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read everything that Reynolds has written to date and always get thoroughly engrossed in his stories. Yes the stories jump across millenia with a variety of characters that can sometimes get a bit confusing - but that's part of his appeal in my view. Another classic from Reynolds - also his short stories are well worth a look.
SwampIrish on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, absolutely the best Space Opera I've ever read. From rogue AIs battling over a cyborg staffed ship to what is probably one of the best alien artifacts ever written about, this story has it all.Dr' Dan Sylveste together with a simulation of his father are investigating why the alien Amarantin species went kapoof 950,000 years ago. Meanwhile a contract killer has signed on with a Cyborg ship returning from deep space who is hunting Sylveste to help them save their captain from a deadly plague that attacks both machine and flesh. The contract killer's target? Sylveste.The book starts off as sort of a political drama localized to one planet and builds slowly but surely to a climax that affects the entire human species.5 stars!
Audacity88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reynolds portrays a fantastic future universe that teeters on the edge of comprehensibility. Unfortunately, the characters who inhibit this universe are all cut from the same tough-talking, cynical stock. One wishes that Reynolds had found a co-author who could suffuse Reynolds's marvelous technological setup with the human drama that is a necessary funnel for the human-limited brain in absorbing the unfamiliar.
Amtep on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked two thirds of this book. The beginning felt like I had been dumped into the setting and I had to struggle to comprehend it. That always makes it more interesting. The book starts with multiple points of view and figuring out how they connect is part of the challenge. Once they become a unified story there are still enough surprises to keep it going.Unfortunately the pace slows down after the midpoint, partly due to repetitive scenes ("they visit the Captain and nothing happens" happens several times) and in the last third it seems like the ideas didn't fit in the plot and there's a lot of exposition about ancient history. Since this is his first book I'm willing to give the next one a chance.There are elements of horror in the second half that would actually make for a good movie.
Phyrexicaid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting book. I have some nitpicking that detracted from my enjoyment, and the last few chapters seemed rushed, and not as polished as the earlier sections.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has something to annoy everyone. It could be the lead character and supreme egotist Dan Sylvestre, whose nickname could be "Sushi" considering what a cold fish he is. It could be the intricate intertwining story arcs between that of Sylvestre, that of Khouri, the assassin blackmailed into killing him, or that of Volyova, the starship officer who acts as the plot intermediary between the two, and this complexity will eventually make your head hurt. This is as at fifty-page intervals Reynolds will let drop some bomb that will change your understanding of all that has gone before, though it at least keeps you guessing. Particuarly when you start to suspect that the plot really isn't as complicated as you have been led to believe. But mostly it's Sylvestre, who spends much of the book being a "McGuffin," even if he does wind up detonating the climax in the end. This is a state of affairs that turns out to be damn frustrating.Still, this novel does have many virtues. For one, Reynolds is (was?) a working astronomer, and this is the hardest real-science space opera I've ever read in terms of living without some of the "magic" that makes most space opera workable. Two, Reynolds has incorporated a dizzying array of concepts in this book, and it does play quite well for the most part; even if you're sometimes playing the game "spot that influence" a little too much. Three, even if his main character annoys the hell out of me, Reynolds does invoke a real sense of sympathy for his secondary characters Khouri and Volyova. Finally, Reynolds also displays a fairly sly sense of humor in what is a wildly ambitious first novel.
name99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can see why this author is popular. He does know how to spin a good story and keep you reading. But his one trick, cutting to a new scene just as something important is about to be revealed, is used far to excess. This is fun light reading but at the end of the day I found it frustrating.In particular I felt that it paid entirely too little attention to the most interesting issue, IMHO, namely how a future, much more wealthy, much more powerful society is structured. As such, while easier to read than say Iain M Banks, or Kim Stanley Robinson, I don't find it as interesting.
tcgardner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A far future space opera on relatively small scale. The story takes place in a small corner of known human space, but the feel of the story is grand.This is a theme throughout the book. Reynolds has a knack of making the small in reality seem large and grand.
nasherr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reynolds' first book is exceptional. It comes up with many original ideas and often invoves more in depth, complex science than the average space opera. This fact lends validity to the whole series, making you feel that all the ideas are entirely plausible. It also contains some brutal aspects which gives it a real edge. The story is often quite dark.
Homechicken on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, what an amazing first book is all I can say. I don't usually read "hard scifi", I prefer to stay on the lighter side with humorous scifi, or just plain fantasy novels. This book was, indeed, a revelation. Reynolds is an excellent writer, and extremely knowledgeable about what he writes. His excellent explanations never get too boring or in the way of the story, though. He writes of a splintered humanity in the distant future, and of its discovery of an ancient civilization and its abrupt end. Some try to understand it, others are afraid of what it might mean, and that the same thing that eradicated the Amarantin civilization will destroy humanity as well.I'm very excited to have the next several books in this series, and expect to be reading them very soon. And I highly recommend it to anyone that likes to read science fiction.Books in the Revelation Space series:Revelation SpaceChasm CityRedemption ArkDiamond Dogs, Turquoise DaysAbsolution GapGalactic NorthThe Prefect