scifi blog — Revelation Space

Revelation Space
by Alistair Reynolds

This is the second time I’ve met the book, and I enjoyed it more an an audiobook. It’s a good romping story, and particularly impressive as a first novel.

But it’s imperfect. That none of the (anti–)heroes die, through good fortune, sometimes by absolutely ridiculous good fortune, and that most of the baddies die, through misfortune, is a distinct negative. If the storyline is going to depend on luck, which, actually, it doesn’t, then please please don’t make it quite so one–sided.

The other weakness is the setting. It’s light huggers, immense slower–than–light starships, wandering the stars. But the society doesn’t feel at all original, everything feels like another paranoia place, admittedly a well developed one. It’s the wild east, the Russian version of the wild west, right down to the revolutions. As I said, it’s well–developed, but I feel I’ve read much the same thing in so many other books before.

On the other hand, there’s some fun technologies, and there’s some immensely fun physics. The book contains some original fantasy science, which is nice. Also, so far as I can tell from my position of ignorance, it does conform to the universe as understood in our times ––– hence no faster–than–light drive. And the starring star–ship, Nostalgia for Infinity, is the scifi teenager’s wet dream substitute for the boring boy’s fast car. I want, I want, I want … :–)

The characters, well, I do feel for them, and I very much enjoyed their story, but I did get hacked off with the good luck, especially at the end. The fairy waved her magic wand, and they all lived happily ever after … .

Definitely worth a read, but it’s good pub grub, not a Michelin restaurant.