Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
Ace Paperback, 476 pages
*** (Three Stars out of Five)
Reviewed by Jerry Wright
I'd read enough about Revelation Space that I thought I'd try it. It is a BIG book, not so much in length, but in breadth. It has many concepts, some new, some old, some mind-boggling, some trite. But it goes on and on.
Normally, when I read a book, I ingest huge chunks, and have difficulty staying away. I'll read until 2 in the morning. With Revelation Space, I had to force myself back to the book. Why? Reynolds never did fully engage me. The characters were thin and malformed, and even the best of them, Khouri the assassin, is an unpleasant character with unlikely motivations.
Reynolds has been compared to Arthur C. Clarke, Iain Banks, and even Greg Bear, and Revelation Space borrows a lot of the feel from each of these authors, and others. Of course, you remember what they say: If you steal from one, it's plagairism, but if you steal from many, it's research.
Fermi's Paradox asks: "Considering the age of the universe, we should have been visited by alien races long ago. Where are they?" Revelation Space answers that question.
Dr Dan Sylveste, an archaeologist who has for years been fascinated with the long-dead alien race -- the Amarantin -- has just uncovered something that could change the course of mankind. But before he can act on anything his wife is killed and he is captured when a coup sweeps across the planet Resurgam. Meanwhile, a huge ship called "Nostalgia for Infinity" bearing a tiny crew of militaristic cyborgs and an assassin who has been kidnapped to act as Gunnery Officer is bearing down on Resurgam, crossing light years of space to enlist Sylveste's help to save their metamorphosing Captain. Only Sylveste, or, more accurately, the software program containing his father's knowledge that he carries in his mind, can save the Captain. None of them can anticipate the cataclysm that will result when they meet, a cataclysm that will sweep through space and could determine the ultimate fate of humanity. And this is just one of several threads that weave through this book.
Reynolds has been called "a writer to watch", and I will. I haven't read Chasm City yet, which is set in the same nearly empty universe of Revelation Space, but I will, I will.
Copyright © 2002 by Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories.