Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

(8.8/10) An entertaining work of hard sci-fi.

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 irrecoverably altered...

This space opera offering from Welsh author Alastair Reynolds charts the story of Dan Sylveste and his quest to discover why the Amarantin civilisation was wiped out nine hundred thousand years ago.

Dan Sylveste, who is one of the human settlers on the former Amarantin homeworld of Resurgam, believes the Amarantin were wiped out for a reason, a reason that signals a great and immediate danger.

On Resurgam an Amarantin obelisk is discovered. This discovery reveals technologies that the Amarantin could not have possibly developed.

Meanwhile the behemoth spaceship, Nostalgia for Infinity, is also on its way to Resurgam with its crew of spaceborn, cybernetically enhanced humans known as Ultras.

Aboard is the assassin for hire Khouri, who has infiltrated the crew. Also aboard is the Captain, who is being kept in statis at sub zero temperatures, while a cure can be found for his plague riddled body... and who is the entity known as Sun Stealer...

This book had me confused and still does. Is it a great book or a very good book? I am still not sure.

However, Revelation Space is an excellent debut from Reynolds. It starts off well and holds the attention for the first two hundred pages. It is not action packed up to this point but provides a strong direction for the characters and the storyline to develop.

There is a lot of interesting science to absorb and a vivid universe to imagine, although during the middle of the book I did find that the content became a tad too wordy. I think a hundred pages or so could have been edited out at this point, and an even better story would have unfolded. The characters are engaging and the Universe Reynolds has created is intriguing and has great potential, especially the domed Chasm City. It also provides moments of horror and the spaceship Nostalgia for Infinity, is a wonderful feat of imagination.

In conclusion, Revelation Space is an entertaining work of hard sci-fi and although the middle drags the ending is mind-blowing and you will certainly be rewarded with patience. The tension builds and reaches boiling point at the end, when all is revealed. During the book a lot of mystery was created, and the author just allows the readers imagination to ponder and speculate until all this has been revealed. The ending perfectly sets up sequels, and even though these have already been written I am certainly looking forward to them.

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Revelation Space reader reviews

from South Africa

Lots of Big Ideas, a complex but well- told story, and a fascinating take on the universe. Pacy story and plenty of tension. Wish the characters were better fleshed out though. A little too many pages spent on description, which I would cheerfully have edited from the book, leaving it somewhat more compact. Nonetheless, I am a child of the Golden Age of Scienc Fiction, and I feel this volume belongs on a shelf alongside them- high praise indeed.

8.4/10 from 2 reviews

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