Hamilton's characters run the gamut of loveable to outright villainous; Reynolds prefers to write mainly about self-absorbed killers and assholes. one writes about factions of humanity trying to come together to fight off threats; the other depicts humans turning on each other and how things fall apart. there is an interesting theme that slowly rises up through the narrative: the obsessive-compulsive nature of humanity. characters in this novel don't just live with their obsessions, they are defined by them. imagine a horrific version of the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, one where the unknowable enigma wants to kill you and all of your stupid little species.
All of this plus one of the most complicated and satisfying mysteries in modern science fiction, unfolding in a fully realized universe complete with a billion years of history.
This is a phenomenal book in many ways. This is the Revelation Space universe and it is about as detailed as a Bosch painting and almost as dark. This started the Revelation Space universe with other novels and short stories filling in the gaps and adding Cooperesque Bazingas aplenty.
Generally characters development is not a strong point of this book. This is a worthwhile read and I am interested to read more of Alastair Reynolds in the near future (within this epoch). ____________________________________ Update : In August 2013 I read Redemption Ark the direct sequel to Revelation Space. Update: October 3, 2015 I finally read Absolution Gap, the last volume of the Revelation Space trilogy, it is also very good, but Redemption Ark is the best of the three books.
While Sylveste works the lighthugger (a near-lightspeed starship) Nostalgia for Infinity approaches Resurgam, its menacing crew seeking Silveste's help while the secrets within the vessel's mile-long bulk threaten to spill out with devastating effect. What Sylveste discovers on Resurgam will illuminate the reasons behind the strange absence of intelligent life in the galaxy and set in motion one of the most interesting Science Fiction series in the genre. Even ten years after reading this many of Revelation Space's amazing set pieces and concepts are still vivid in my mind.
This is literally how this book went: (very conservative mildly interested voice) "By George, Sam, I think someone just vaporized Joe, with a trans-numatic ray gun. (very conservative mildly interested voice) "Why yes, I did loved him, he just insisted on having his own ideas about things, and was so cardboard that we won't even notice he's not around anymore, because we all act just like him.
While I have been reading a lot of fantasy lately, it was high time I jumped into some science fiction. At the same time, I think people like a personal touch, I know I do. Reynolds and Hamilton are the two big go-to names for space opera and until now I hadn't read either of them. Reynolds may possibly be known more for being hard sci-fi, but to be honest, I barely know the difference. The factions of humanity is also completely believable, from those who love all the gadgetry and implant it all over themselves (Ultras), to those who enhance their minds so much with machinery that they reach enlightenment (Conjoiners). It's a great read and one I would definitely recommend, but I think I was expecting more after this long of a wait (nothing of which Reynolds could do anything about of course). With only so few being the focus, it was hard to really think of this as a story with heavy implications for humanity. I'm happy to have finally read this king of space opera/hard sci-fi (depending on who you talk to) and I feel like I can finally enter the club, almost. Reynolds is a king of this genre for a reason, his imagination is vast and his characters compelling 4 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)
Update and minor edit OK, so I can confirm now that the Revelation Space series is one of the favouritest favourites. Delayed Review I read Revelation Space back when the Rust Belt was still the Glitter Band (ho ho). I also liked the apparently unrelated plots, separated quite literally by time and space, which eventually interwove and culminated as a single thread.
Now, small human settlements populate Resurgam, one of which is led by Dan Sylveste - an archaeologist obsessed with studying the Amarantin and what happened to them. While Dan is going about his business (voluntarily and involuntarily) on Resurgam, a decrepit lighthugger called 'Nostalgia for Infinity' - which has lost almost everyone onboard - is trawling the galaxy looking for the archaeologist. The Plague - which has badly damaged the ship - also infected the Nostalgia's skipper, Captain Brannigan, while he was in reefersleep (suspended animation). Dan Sylveste once came aboard the Nostalgia to treat the Captain (with dead Calvin's help).....and the crew wants the archaeologist to help Brannigan once again. Other characters in the story include Resurgam residents who want to thwart Dan's research into the Amarantin; a journalist who's compiling Dan's biography; a Nostalgia gunnery officer who goes completely insane; a wily cyber-being with an agenda; Dan's deceased wife; and more. The book is almost 600 pages long, and there's plenty of techno-speak that describes planets, stars, spaceships, shuttles, weapons, bionic devices, alien races, alien artifacts, space-time, objective time, subjective time, alpha and beta 'copies' of dead people, sophisticated spacesuits, esoteric discoveries, etc.
At 600-plus pages, Revelation Space is a comfortably long first novel in a trilogy. Characters are described schizophrenically as bad-ass future space-farers who, in their centuries of life, have seen and participated in much routine violence & destruction, yet in the next paragraph experience horror and remorse at comparatively minor atrocities they must do by logic or circumstances -- without any kind of justification for merging these two facets together to form cohesive human beings. For example, one main character spends decades traveling through the cosmos seeking to cure her Captain from a disgusting plague, yet barely cares whether her fellow space-crew -- along whose side she had worked and lived for decades -- are alive or dead.
I started off publishing short stories in the British SF magazine Interzone in the early 90s, then eventually branched into novels. I moved to the Netherlands to continue my science career and stayed there for a very long time, before eventually returning to Wales.