Absolution Gap Paperback – 11 Dec 2008
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With Absolution Gap, Alastair Reynolds completes the star-spanning Inhibitors trilogy in which the previous books were Revelation Space and Redemption Ark. The Inhibitors are a mechanical plague, mindlessly but very resourcefully wiping out space-going civilisations that come to their notice. Their latest target is humanity, which lost a round in Redemption Ark. One small human faction now has stealth weapons and technologies that can almost fight Inhibitor assault to a standstill, but running away still seems the only long-term option.
From the same cryptic source as that supertechnology, filtered through a young girl's mind, comes the urgent message to make an interstellar trek to Hela, barren moon of the gas-giant Haldora. Hela is home to an obsessive religion fuelled partly by mind viruses and partly by the miracle of Haldora. This unpredictable, unbelievable event happens in an eyeblink, but more and more often, a signal of the End Times. Which is why a group of vast mobile cathedrals lumbers forever around Hela, to keep Haldora at the zenith for best observation of its marvels. And on this last circuit, with a madman in command, the greatest cathedral of all plans an impossible short cut over the mysterious, delicate bridge spanning an immense rift in Hela's surface: Absolution Gap.
There's a lot of action with both familiar and enjoyably exotic weapons; there's suffering, deceit, loss and triumph; there's a hideous revenge straight out of Jacobean tragedy, a series of awesome revelations and the last voyage of the lightship Nostalgia for Infinity that was so strangely transformed in Revelation Space. Ultimately, behind the enigma of Haldora, a dreadful choice awaits: whether or not to bargain with powers that may be the answer to the Inhibitors--but may be something worse. Alastair Reynolds makes his huge story compellingly readable, with characters we care about, and gives impressive descriptions of beauty and cataclysm. This is very superior space opera. --David Langford --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"A terrific treat...rendered with the authentic voice of a working scientist. Ferociously intelligent and imbued with a chilling logic--it may really be like this Out There."
A book of great fascination, rich description, and memorable action. ("Locus")
"A book of great fascination, rich description, and memorable action."--Locus
"Reynolds writes a lean and muscular prose where the intense action scenes are leavened with the kind of bright, shining, mind-boggling science talk that characterizes the best of post-modern space opera."--Science Fiction Weekly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Firstly, the aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed was the emphasis on the characters rather than the narrative. I felt like I was getting to know and feel for the characters better than the previous two novels.
The narrative however seems to have come under attack by one of the Inhibitor's weapons and has suffered severe damage. Reynolds has not capitalised on or expanded the story lines from the previous two installments and has introduced many plot elements that add nothing of value.
Deus Ex Machina is invoked far too liberally.
He is also rather inconsistent with his arbitrary adherence to or violation of the known laws of physics.
Having been rather negative so far I will conclude by saying that I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to any space opera or hard(ish) SF fan.
But first, the good stuff. By this stage in the series, Reynolds is juggling quite a few characters, and there's a whole bunch more introduced in this installment. The 'main' cast, including the brutal, pragmatic pigman Scorpio, the aging Conjoiner Clavain and the living starship that used to be Captain John Brannigan, among others, are still on the watery planet Ararat, where they fetched up with their cargo of refugees last book. However, the arrival of their other allies can only mean that the Inhibitors have finally caught up with them.
Alongside this, and in a style reminiscent of the multiple time periods of the original story (Revelation Space), we also follow the discovery of a mysterious and miraculous planet, and the bizarre church that grows up around it. Longtime readers will know that the two storylines are destined to entwine, and they do in typically cataclysmic fashion.
The author's character writing has improved with every new book, and the development of protagonists like Scorpio and new girl Rashmika is brilliantly done. There are plenty of hard moral choices to make, and both plotlines kept me turning the pages.
However, if you are thinking that it doesn't sound like much room has been left for the main Inhibitor storyline... well, you'd be right. As a standalone segment of the universe Reynolds has built up, Absolution Gap is great. But as the last act of a star-spanning saga about civilisation-killing machines? Not so much.Read more ›
I did like the character and did want to learn more about them, but not at the complete expense of the plot, especially when a lot of the actions of the main characters seem to be quite inexplicable at times and they frequently seem to jump between one mindset and other just to facilitate further twists in turns in their realtionships with one another . Thats why I have to say that while this book is an enjoyable part of the story, I can't see why the author chose to all but abandon the main thrust of the storyline in order to focus on the minutae of the characters lives, and that's why in my opinion a fourth book to deal with the outcome of the story properly would have made this book sit a whole lot better with me.
All that said, it's not flawless. The most significant question I had about the book as it made its way to the end is 'How can Reynolds possibly end this tale in a way that is truly satisfying?'. Spoiler - he doesn't. In fairness, I'm not sure there *was* a way to end a series like this in a way that would have left me feeling sated, but I was hoping for something a little more than the pound shop James Bond-esque theatrics that concludes it. Reynolds is at his best when he's tackling big, deep themes, and that's not really executed well in the finale. It's not enough to spoil an excellent book - it is after all the voyage, not the destination, that matters the most in fiction. It just casts the book into an odd orbit in the series - with the right ending, this would have been the crowning jewel.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Since discovering The Prefect in 2008, I've been a big fan of Alastair Reynold's books, the Chasam City series was fantastic. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mark_C
Not much really happens in this book. The first half drags on unnecessarily and could have been told in 50-100 pages at most, leaving more time for real plot development. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Darren S.
If you like space opera, aliens ships guns and loads of pages this is the one for you.Published 13 months ago by MR T J K PAYNE
Absolution Gap is primarily about a mystery of the same name, and is compellingly introduced. It continues the Revelation Space trilogy, starting with unique characters and... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Alex James