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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

       
Revelation Space

Copyright 2000 by Alastair Reynolds

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Very good (3/5)

I first read this in September 2002.

Two hundred thousand years ago the alien Amarantin civilisation abruptly collapsed. The sudden downfall of this advanced culture remains a mystery. However there is some evidence to suggest that the entire civilisation was simply exterminated, wiped out.

In the 26th Century on the planet Resurgam, Dan Silveste is searching for archeological treasure while his family run the planet's colony. Dan believes he's discovered a major find: an Amarantin relic that may finally explain exactly why the disappearance of that culture. However he will have to keep tight control of the colony on Resurgam if he hopes to continue his archeological research, and right about now, rebellious elements are making that look unlikely.

The Nostalgia For Infinity is a four-kilometer-long spaceship. On board this giant vessel, Ilia Volyova and her crew members Sajaki and Hegazi, guard their cache of forty ancient weapons, perhaps the most powerful weapons in the galaxy.

Ana Khouri is twenty years lost in space and time from her beloved husband. Once she was a soldier like her husband Fazil, but now she is a solitary assassin. When she hears from the mysterious Mademoiselle that there is chance to be reunited with her husband, she agrees Mademoiselle's conditions. Now, on behalf of Mademoiselle, she will fly in the Nostalgia For Infinity on the long journey to Resurgam and on that distant planet she will attempt to kill Dan Silveste.

This is space opera on the large scale. It's a big book with loads of stuff inside it. It's pretty good. Of course it would have been better if it had been a little tighter and shorter, but hey, I just read them.

This is an excellent first novel. Alastair Reynolds' writing is so close to being great. However, in my opinion, he misses the mark because he simply crams too much in and fails to make the most of what he's already got. As it is he's managed to create a quite remarkably textured universe and a powerful novel, but it's just not as good as it should be.

What's it got? Loads of stuff, far too much to mention, but here are some:

  • palanquins - humans hermetically sealed into protective mobile canisters
  • alpha-level intelligences - fully competent computer copies of human personalities, but of course with no human rights
  • Nostalgia For Infinity - simply the Gormanghast of spacecraft, with its eery corridors and haunted halls and infected, mutating captain

Loaded on the 1st July 2003.
    
Cover of Revelation Space
Cover by Chris Moore and Richard Carr

Reviews of other work by Alastair Reynolds
Chasm City
Redemption Ark
Absolution Gap
Century Rain
Terminal World