REVELATION SPACE (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
However, Reynolds is not a good writer. His characters exist merely to move the story forward. I don't think any of the main three could seriously be called "heroes". It doesn't matter to me that they're all working against each other at certain times, but none of them ever seems real enough. Sylveste is a slightly egomaniacal scientist obsessed with uncovering the mystery of the disappearance of a race of aliens thousands of years ago. Ana Khouri is a mercenary hired by a mysterious stranger to kill Sylveste. Volyova is the commander (sort of) of a giant starship (mentioned above) that is also searching for Sylveste, because she needs his help. Beyond that, they are interchangeable. Only their motivations differ - they speak in the exact same voice, and their actions are hardly distinctive. You wouldn't recognize these characters if you happened to meet them anywhere else; they're just plot devices, and that is incredibly irritating.
The book takes about 200 pages too much in getting its plot worked out. It's very long, and I'm not sure how much of that length is really essential to the whole. Reynolds spends a lot of time with flashbacks - not important ones, just brief ones to tell you what a character was doing ten minutes before he/she was doing something else. Utterly superfluous.Read more ›
Many reviewers pointed out flat characters and a messy storyline. Maybe I've read more than my share of bad SF, but I found it was the case on neither account. The characters of Sylveste, Pascale, Khouri and Volyova can never truly be assigned a stereotype, and they sometimes acted in irrational ways that I found perfectly consistent with their backgrounds. The story does take time to evolve, but when it does, it poses a clever and interesting enigma that is satisfactorly unravelled at the end.
Storytelling-wise, this is not an earth-shattering novel; but it's a fine yarn. It reminded me of Clark's 'Rendezvous with Rama', in that much of the suspense and interest of the story lies in a mysterious alien artifact. This artifact generates a genuine sense of wonder and satisfaction at the originality of the concept.
Throughout the novel, Reynolds has sewn incredible concepts of far-future technology. These are too numerous to recount, but the descriptions of the strange life aboard the ship Nostalgia for Infinity was very satisfying in a 'Golden Age of SF' sense. Also of great interest are the (rare) aliens that populate Reynolds' universe: their evolution, motives and forms are quite refreshing and truly alien.
It might be a mistake to pick up this book hoping for a strong character-driven story. The characters are stronger than most SF novels, but they DO act in ways that further the plot instead of making absolute sense. But if you're interested in a genuinely original take on the future of mankind, as well as a thought-provoking reflection on life in the Universe, you could do much worse than pick up this book.
And it almost is - but not quite. The plot itself is fine, as far as it goes - an obsessed scientist who rules (badly) a feeble backwater colony is first deposed by his subjects and then abducted by a starship crew who need his technological expertise to cure their Captain of a strange nanotechnological disease; in return, he demands that they transport him to a strange moon that seems to hold the secret to the mysterious demise of an ancient alien civilization.
This summary is hardly more than a thumbnail sketch. The motion of the plot is, at times, as dense as the neutron star that figures prominently in the novel; and the scope is as widescreen as one could wish, careering anarchically between worlds and centuries. But the fun, the spontaneity, is absent. It feels like Reynolds is going through the motions, like he's reduced the modern baroque space opera to its component bits and is merely dutifully and rather joylessly reassembling them.
At first it's hard to pin down exactly where REVELATION SPACE falters, because so much of it works quite well. While Reynolds, a practicing astronomer, lacks the focused, laserlike literary brilliance of a Gene Wolfe or a Michael Swanwick, neither is his prose colorless and oatmeal-bland (as happens all too often to scientists-turned-writers).Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is a complex novel and I liked certain aspects of it. One of these is the fact that, despite the main characters are not few, the author still managed to deepen them. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Anakina
Having first read the superb `House of Suns', I couldn't wait to read more Alistair Reynolds and decided to go back to the beginning. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Willy Eckerslike
The start of a very long science fiction trilogy , with hard core science fiction fans in mind.Published 23 months ago by Spencer21
The depth of the science part of this fiction just keeps getting deeper and deeper, to dizzying heights. Great read.Published on July 9 2014 by Jonathan McKinnell
This was one of the first sci-fi books I ever read a number of years ago. I thoruougly enjoyed it and most (admittedly, not all) of the other books he wrote afterward. Read morePublished on July 17 2012 by Blazed Linen
A complex set of sub-plots add up to a generally enjoyable "read". As others have pointed out, character development is a bit spotty, but that doesn't relly detract in any... Read morePublished on Jan. 3 2010 by Malcolm
Alastair Reynolds work is not for the illiterate or impatient Star Wars/Star Trek serial reading types. His work stands head and hands above the mundane SF pulp that's out there. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2009 by eater of books
I had never read Alastair Reynolds before. This book is a true wonder of science fiction, but it also stands very well on its own simply as a novel. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2006 by Aldo Ferrante
This is appallingly written. Some gems:
"Fire burned in their minds too, but this was the unquenchable fire of being."
"'Assassination tools! Read more