Tag Archives: Revelation Space

DIAMOND DOGS, TURQUOISE DAYS – Alastair Reynolds (2003)

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise DaysThis book contains 2 novellas, loosely connected. Both are situated in the Revelation Space universe.

Diamond Dogs (130 pages) is the most “gothic” story I’ve read of Reynolds so far. It is about a sort of cross between the Shrike (of Hyperion-fame) and the Cube (the movie), visited by steampunkish Frankensteinian humans. It feels a bit like an exercise to write a Cube-like story (about an intriguing mysterious structure filled with deadly traps) and amounts mainly to the protagonists going from chamber to chamber. It’s okay, but nothing compared to Reynolds’ longer fiction, and because of the above mentioned influences, it feels totally out of place in the Revelation Space universe.  (2/5)

Turquoise Days (100 pages) is a lot better than the first story. It’s about a colony doing research on the Pattern Jugglers, massive databases made of alien biomass floating in oceans on distant planets. Their peaceful existence is disturbed by the impending arrival of an Ultra ship.  (3/5)

This collection is okay: fun and quickly read, but not a good place to start your exploration of Alastair Reynolds’ amazing work set in the same universe. My advice: start with Revelation Space proper, and if that clicks, you’ll end up reading this anyway.

originally written on the 2nd of March, 2015

(Update 10/2018: I have given up on Reynolds completely. Part of that is my evolving taste, but he’s also been writing books at a pacing that simply can’t keep up with quality. He needs to eat and pay rent, I get it, but it’s such a waste of potential.)

ABSOLUTION GAP – Alastair Reynolds (2003)

Absolution GapAbsolution Gap, the third and final book of the Revelation Space-trilogy, is a stunning conclusion to a stunning series. This is SF at its best: big ideas, highly imaginative, exciting, even poetic at times. It’s filled with interesting characters, and the book is a page turner as well. It might have been a bit shorter, but not by much. Most of its 695 pages are fun & engaging, and the attention to detail pays off.

While the first book focused on Ultras (augmented humans living on trade ships, crusing lonely between the stars), and the second book on Conjoiners (hyperevolved humans living a hive-like society, not lonely at all), this book has a bit of everything, including surprising roles for the Pattern Jugglers (an alien race that looks like sea weed) and a pig bred for its organs. The connections I formed with some of the recurring cast also made this the most emotional part of the series. Star of this book is the Nostalgia for Infinity, the ship that also played a role in the previous books, and turns out to be the main character of the entire series.

As a testimony to Reynolds’ abilities, the 3 books are pretty different: they are not just one long novel split in 3 parts, but they tell 3 distinct stories, that succeed each other logically and chronologically. While the end of the first book felt a bit rushed at times, the ending to the series is breathtaking and action packed, yet it remains focussed on the characters themselves – the Big Conclusion to the battle with the Inhibitors takes second place, as an afterthought.

What Reynolds manages to do exceptionally well is build a believable story of us humans being among the stars in a few centuries, very realistic yet totally weird and fantastic and a bit gothic at the same time, with science that might come to pass, weird and fantastic too.

On top of all that, Reynolds’ language is often beautiful in this book, using well chosen, original metaphors.

Fans of Banks and ‘hard’ space opera should not hesitate, and start Revelation Space, the first book. As a series, this is among the best SF I have read. As a book, this probably is the best of the trilogy. It’s a crying shame most of Reynolds’ later books don’t hold up like these.

originally written on the 15th of November, 2014

REDEMPTION ARK – Alastair Reynolds (2002)

Redemption ArkThis is gold. It’s better than the first book in the Revelation Space-trilogy, and that was gold too. Redemption Ark is more high-paced. It’s full of rich ideas and has some great characters, and this time focusses more on Conjoiner society (humans that evolved into a Borg-like hive mind) in a storyline that continues the threat of the Inhibitors.

This book has the best chase scene I’ve ever read (or seen on a screen for that matter), it lasts for several chapters, and it’s between 2 starships traveling just below the speed of light.

What Reynolds manages to do so well is actually convey what interstellar travel and battle would mean for humans that haven’t invented faster-than-light-travel. This is true hard SF.

The conclusion to this trilogy is sitting on my shelves, but I’m first going to read a few other books, just to savour the moment. I just don’t want this story to end. Luckily there are a few other books set in the same universe.

originally written on the 27th of September, 2014