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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read - enjoyable hard sci-fi
Redemption Ark is billed as a galaxy spanning hard sci-fi story but the motivations of the lead characters are very human - a love story that has lasted 400 years, a young woman who risks being a casualty of a nasty war just to bury her father in the heart of a sun and a lead character that decides to override hundreds of years of loyalty to a race of humans with a Borg...
Published on 19 July 2002 by A. J. Sudworth

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The explosive story on a downturn
After reading the explosive predecessors, Chasm City and Revelation Space (which are bound together by this book), Redemption Ark came as a bit of a disappointment to me. The original atmosphere, characters, and world are a shadow of their former selves, with the variation and believeable character buildup becoming flat and uninteresting.
Readable, and somewhat...
Published on 27 Sep 2004 by Peter Bjørn Perlsø


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read - enjoyable hard sci-fi, 19 July 2002
By 
A. J. Sudworth "tonysudworth" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Redemption Ark is billed as a galaxy spanning hard sci-fi story but the motivations of the lead characters are very human - a love story that has lasted 400 years, a young woman who risks being a casualty of a nasty war just to bury her father in the heart of a sun and a lead character that decides to override hundreds of years of loyalty to a race of humans with a Borg like ability to share thoughts in order to retrieve ultimate weapons that might just save the human species.. If you couple that with a race called the Inhibitors that seem to regard humans who want to explore space as a menace to be surpressed then you have a book that works on both a sci-fi purists level and a personal level. I read the 500 plus pages in 3 days finsihing off at 1 a.m. and was only disappointed that it had finished - although I have to say there are at least three plot lines that could be continued.
An excellent read - one point, if you have read Revalation Space it will make this easier to read but its not essential
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A prelude to the Grand Finale, 8 Aug 2002
In "Redemption Ark" Alastair Reynolds continues his story of the impending threat to human space faring society we learn about in "Revelation Space". As the other reviewers have pointed out, this book is clearly meant to be part of a series, although I don't think it is crucial to the understanding and enjoyment of the story to have read the prequels (or in fact prequel, since "Chasm City" is more of an independent story, set in the same fictional universe). It is however obviously meant to be a stepping stone leading up to the final decisive struggle against the Inhibitors, of which we should be able to read about in early 2004 or hopefully late next year. By then you will have had plenty of time to catch up on the preceding events should you wish to, which I very much recommend since they are all hugely enjoyable and interesting. Reynolds is an astrophysicist working for the ESA in the Netherlands, and his intimate knowledge of the subject shows in his work. It's this understanding of space and possible future technologies that distinguishes him from many of his contemporaries and adds the plausible scientific backdrop to his action packed stories, giving them that sense of reality that makes them so fantastic. For anyone who's interested in Hard SF (science fiction grounded on science fact), or would like to make an excursion into this branch of SF, you can't go wrong with Alastair Reynolds, although you might as well begin with "Revelation Space" and then work your way through, or you might not forgive him the long wait to see what happens next...
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good-but almost brilliant, 2 July 2002
This book is sooooo frustrating, for a start its better than both Revelation Space and Chasm City, both characterisation and plotting are stronger. Half the characters will be familiar from Revelation Space, with a couple of cameos from Chasm city for good measure. The new characters are his best yet with real depth and complexity - especially Clavain and Skade. The hard science part is excellent with some intriuging concepts. The wolves/inhibitors are excellent as implacable enemies, and the conjoiners add a nice human touch.
The first 400 pages are amongst the best SF I have read, unfortunately its thrown away in the last 150 pages or so, as the author sets things up for a sequel. What should have been the climax is thrown away in a couple of lines and instead we get an epilogue who's sole purpose is to prepare us for said sequel.
This is the authors best work yet but...its crying out for a decent editor. Infact in places it looks like whole subplots were edited out (for reasons of space?) - the lighthugger theft for instance...
I dont wan't to be too negative, this is one of the best SF novels I have read this year, but unfortunately it just falls at the last hurdle and what should have been a great book, becomes just very good.
Hopefully the sequel will be the book this one could have been as the Author improves with every book he writes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a class of its own, 6 Aug 2002
Rather a continuation to the critically acclaimed "Revelation Space" than his second outing "Chasm City", Alastair Reynolds has successfully developed his own SF world with all the twists and turns (and more) of his original masterpiece. We learn more about the mysterious Inhibitors and of their motivations for the automated genocides, which leads to some unexpected dilemmas for some of the main characters.
The characterization is extremely well contrived and believable, adding very much to the richness of the novel. It also adds to the fun when a long lost character makes an unexpected re-appearance... Volyova's conversations with weapon 17 and the tensions surrounding the (bizarre) Captain Brannigan are brilliant.
...It is the clever working of sub-plots that lead to an unpredictable story, and as for the fact that it appears to be set up for a sequel - so what? Great I say. I can't wait to read the next installment. Get it now you will not be sorry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but some strange editing decisions ..., 9 Feb 2009
By 
I'll second other reviewers' comments that this is a good book that could have been great but for weird editing decisions in some places and an apparent lack of editing in others.

Others have noted the build-up on several occasions to what appear to be climactic set-pieces ... which are then inexplicably skipped over with a perfunctory "Once the battle had passed ..." or "Once the ship was captured ...". These sections feel like they were carved out at the last minute just to make space, which is all the more galling when there are other sections (e.g. the extended "chase" section at the end of the book; Reynold's characteristic in-depth recountings of his characters' internal dialogues) ripe for paring down. (I can only presume it would have cost Gollancz much less in editors' costs to simply excise the aforementioned set pieces than to judiciously truncate the musings of Reynold's characters.)

A note on prior reading: this is obviously a sequel to Revelation Space and it should be considered a prerequisite before ploughing into Redemption Ark. I had not read Chasm City prior to Redemption Ark but did not find this limited my understanding of what was going on (the characters' previous adventures there appear to be fleshed-out enough). I would stress however, that the reader's understanding of the not-unimportant character of Felka will be greatly improved by reading the story "Great Wall of Mars" in the Galactic North collection. Redemption Ark sketches Felka's back story but I'm not sure enough insight is given into her unique state of mind and her relationship to Clavain and Galiana.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The explosive story on a downturn, 27 Sep 2004
By 
Peter Bjørn Perlsø "somethingorother" (Denmark, Europe) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
After reading the explosive predecessors, Chasm City and Revelation Space (which are bound together by this book), Redemption Ark came as a bit of a disappointment to me. The original atmosphere, characters, and world are a shadow of their former selves, with the variation and believeable character buildup becoming flat and uninteresting.
Readable, and somewhat recommendable but mostly to get the conclusion of the story that has been waiting to climax.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reynold's best novel to date, 3 Aug 2002
By 
Stuart Sinclair (Plymouth, Devon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I loved this novel and finished it over a weekend. For those of you who have read Reynold's previous two novels, Redemption Ark seems to combine the best of both of them. It develops the intriguing ideas of Revelation Space and provides the thrills, twists and action of Chasm City.
One particularly effective aspect of Reynold's tales is his ability to make hi-tech events seem creepy in an almost haunted house sense. We saw this is Chasm City with the idea of the 'ghost ship' following Sky's flotilla. We see it in Redemption Ark with the star ship that has melded with its captain, in the strange disappearances of people in the inertia experiments and in the sinister activities of the Inhibitors. In discussing the novel with a friend they likened its ability to chill to the early scenes of the film Event Horizon.
In terms of characterisation, I enjoyed the way Reynolds reintroduced old characters, developing them further. I also felt that Clavain was a brilliant creation in his moral ambiguity and his motivation to do the 'right thing'. He is, by turns, heroic, enigmatic and terrifying.
My only disappointment with the novel was the way that it seems to gloss over certain events. I wonder whether Reynolds did this to move the story along and avoid too high a word count. It's a pity; I would have loved to have read about how the human/pig army attacked and captured the ship that takes them on their journey after the doomsday weapons.
I am a big fan of Peter Hamilton's Night's Dawn Trilogy, and while Redemption Ark does not have the scope of Hamilton's epic novels, I think Reynolds delivers equal thrills and deals in more intriguing hard science ideas.
Finally, a word of warning. At times I felt unsure how easy and satisfying a read this novel would be without first reading Revelation Space. Many of the complex story lines in Redemption Ark begin in this novel.
Overall, a highly recommended read, but read Revelation Space first if you want to get the most out of the story.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back on form � but still flawed., 26 Jan 2005
By 
Jane Aland (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
First off, despite any explanatory cover blurb, please be aware that Redemption Ark is Alistair Reynolds 3rd novel, and your enjoyment of it will depend largely on having read his previous 2 novels, as this is a direct sequel to Revelation Space, while also building on some characters introduced in Chasm City. Personally I found that Revelation Space was a very encouraging debut, and dismissed the rough edges as merely a new author getting to grips with his craft, yet Chasm City - despite some good material - seemed to be a massive step backwards in quality, with Reynolds writing appearing rather ham fisted at times.
Reynolds strengths have always been in the big science fiction concepts, but what has previously let him down has been poor pacing and structure, with Chasm City being particularly guilty of employing glaring deus ex machina and having character's entirely lacking in logical motivation. The good news is that Redemption Ark is a return to form after the sloppy Chasm City, though the novel is still far from flawless.
Pacing is still a problem for Reynolds - Redemption Ark on the one hand feels too bloated at 650 pages, with the fairly slight background story of the Inhibitors being repeated over and over again, yet at the same time crucial moments in the story are glossed over. Two big set pieces come to mind especially, first the highjacking of a Lighthugger ship - supposedly something so outrageous no-one has ever attempted it before; Reynolds takes time to build up the situation and the assault crew to take over the ship - then simply cuts right past the action scene to show the ship having been captured without actually showing us how. Worse is the gutted climax, as after an interstellar chase sequence lasting at least one hundred pages Reynolds again cuts out the final confrontation between the forces of the defecting Clavain and his Conjoiner pursuers, instead opting to gloss over the events by jumping forward in time and offering a brief flashback synopsis. The impression given is that Reynolds got carried away overwriting this novel, then realised he was up against a deadline (or a word count) and frantically hacked away chunks of the text - unfortunately the excised material sounds more interesting than some of what is left.
On the positive side Redemption Ark sees some of the best characterisation yet from Reynolds, with - for the most part - characters acting logically and with clear objectives and motivations. Unfortunately there is one character that doesn't quite convince in this area, and that's Clavain himself - the novel depends on a lot of it's action due to Clavain's defection from the hive-mind Conjoiners and his quest to capture the hell-class weapons of Volyova, but in both cases Clavain overreacts to an alarming degree. His defection that kicks the novel off seemingly comes out of nowhere, and is accompanied by a surprising amount of violence towards his erstwhile friends, while his determination to capture the hell-class weapons is slightly confusing - both he and Volyova want to use the weapons to destroy the humanity-culling Inhibitor machines, but rather than offering his assistance in a peaceful manner he comes in all guns blazing. Without Clavain's actions there wouldn't be much of a novel here, but he doesn't always convince.
The only other real problem with Redemption Ark is the traditional one shared by middle books of trilogies - the set-up has already occurred, and nothing is resolved at the novels end: if you want the climax you'll have to read Absolution Gap as well. Despite it's construction flaws Chasm City did at least offer some new locations and environments compared to Revelation Space - by contrast Redemption Ark contents itself to play with the established characters and setting, so Reynolds is unable to generate any 'sense of wonder' here.
Still, while these annoying little flaws stop Reynolds from being as good an author as he continually promises to be, Redemption Ark is a generally enjoyable hard-sf space opera, and a distinct improvement on Chasm City. To put it simply, if you enjoyed Revelation Space and wanted to find out what happened to the characters next, Redemption Ark will be for you.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful conclusion, 3 Jun 2003
By 
Amazon Customer "Alexander Kjerulf" (Copenhagen, Denmark) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I am vastly impressed with the writing of Alastair Reynolds. He manages to hold down a full time job as an astronomer for ESA, while writing 800 page science fiction novels in his spare time. But most impressively, his books keep getting better and better. I was very satsisfied with Revelation Space, Chasm City was an excellent sequel, but Redemption Ark simply blew me away.
The authors' trademarks of truly believable science, a great story arc and sudden unexpected plot twists remain as strong as ever in his third novel,.
I recommend this book highly, but do yourself a favour and start at the beginning with Revelation Space. Otherwise you won't be able to apprieciate way the author manages to tie in many threads and characters from the first two books in this one. Which really makes me wonder if he had the entire story planned, when he set out to write the first book. Whether he did or not, it's a monumental achievement.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nightmare scenario, 18 Jan 2003
The stereotypical space-opera universe is dotted with alien civilisations which are basically humanity's peers. Maybe they're a bit beyond us - or behind us - but in essence they have the same goals as us, the same sort of societies, and they use the same sort of technology to do the same sort of things.
It isn't plausible. The galaxy is ancient, and aliens - if there are any - have had ample time to develop beyond anything we can imagine. If they are out there, they must have passed our level of sophistication hundreds of millions of years ago.
This is often called the Fermi Paradox - if there are aliens out there, why haven't we seen them? why hasn't their transcendantly superior technology allowed them to conquer the Galaxy while our single-celled ancestors were frolicking in the seas? It's bothered (some) scientists for decades, and it's just beginning to bother sci-fi writers.
Alastair Reynolds' Inhibitor saga (of which Redemption Ark is the third) is the first novel I've ever read which really, sincerely, convincingly addresses the problem... and his answer is terrifying. Long ago, in Reynold's cosmos, someone decided that intelligent life was dangerous, and that someone seeded the Galaxy with killing machines that would prevent it ever arising. In Redemption Ark, humanity is just beginning to come to the attention of these machines.
Life-destroying robot fleets aren't new in sci-fi (think Benford, think Saberhagen) but no other writer has motivated it as plausibly as Reynolds does, or linked it as neatly into our current picture of the Galaxy. What makes the novel as frightening (and thrilling) as any Tom Clancy nightmare-scenario plot, is that the Fermi Paradox really is a paradox... and Reynold's solution is as likely as any other to be true.
"Do you have trouble sleeping at night?" asks one of Reynolds' characters, to another character who's about to be confronted with the truth about the galaxy. "I'm afraid all that's about to change."
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