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Revelation Space (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 3 May 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 154 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New edition edition (3 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857987489
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857987485
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.7 x 17.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 814,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Alastair Reynolds's first novel is "hard" SF on an epic scale, crammed with technological marvels and immensities. Its events take place over a relatively short period, but have roots a billion years old--when the Dawn War ravaged our galaxy.

Sylveste is the only man ever to return alive and sane from a Shroud, an enclave in space protected by awesome gravity-warping defences: "a folding a billion times less severe should have required more energy than was stored in the entire rest-mass of the galaxy." Now an intuition he doesn't understand makes him explore the dead world Resurgam, whose birdlike natives long ago tripped some booby-trap that made their own sun erupt in a deadly flare.

Meanwhile, the vast, decaying lightship Nostalgia for Infinity is coming for Sylveste, whose dead father (in AI simulation) could perhaps help the Captain, frozen near absolute zero yet still suffering monstrous transformation by nanotech plague. Most of Infinity's tiny crew have hidden agendas--Khouri the reluctant contract-assassin believes she must kill Sylveste to save humanity--and there are two bodiless stowaways, one no longer human and one never human. Shocking truths emerge from bluff, betrayal and ingenious lies.

The trail leads to a neutron star where an orbiting alien construct has defences to challenge the Infinity's planet-wrecking superweapons.

At the heart of this artefact, the final revelations detonate--most satisfyingly. Dense with information and incident, this longish novel has no surplus fat and seems almost too short. A sparkling SF debut. --David Langford


"Intensely compelling; darkly intelligent; hugely ambitious." --Paul J. McAuley, author of Ancients of Days "A terrific treat. I was hooked from page one. Billion-year-gone alien wars, killer intelligences--and perhaps the most stunning and original alien artifact in modern science fiction--and all 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." --Stephen Baxter, co-author of The Light of Other Days "A striking first novel. Revelation Space delivers the goods. Certain to be one of the year's most impressive debut novels, and one of the most significant large-scale epics of the year. Reynolds is the next writer to watch in the resurrection of the conceptually intelligent space opera." --Gary Wolfe, Locus "Complicated, and very clever and well-written...a spectacular first novel."--Aboriginal SF"A delight. A refreshing and entertaining reconsideration of some of the genre's oldest tropes. An impressive first novel, quite possibly the space opera of the year. Watch for it at awards time."--Jonathan Strahan, Locus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 7 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
I'd heard this debut novel was similar to both Iain Banks' and Dan Simmons' universes, and I was pleased to note that this was true - though only on a surface level. There's a very strong sense that the author sees the novel form as a vehicle for exploring science fact. It isn't hard to accept that this man is a hard scientist in his actual life, and even easier to accept that he's a passionate man in his imagined one. I don't think I have ever read science fiction that marries 'hard' sci-fi with a convincing narrative quite so assuredly. I was initially gripped by the solidity of his universe, but as the manifold plot lines began to unfold that all seemed to take a background role to the lives and motivations of his characters. I was never less than completely engrossed, and I put this down to Reynolds' keen eye for what is actually interesting in the sci-fi form. The primary 'revelation' for this reader was Reynolds' ability to create a dystopian future that is, intrinsically new. From Lighthugger ships and their nauseatingly intimidating weapons, through to the stupendous alien artefact we come to see a central to the story, there is always an underlying sense of purpose and symmetry. If you've read Banks, Simmons, Hamilton or even Sagan (and were impressed) then buy this book. It is that rare thing: an original science fiction universe; one you recognise but have never visited. Hard science fiction for non-'hard' sci-fi fans.
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The first Reynolds book I read was the sublime House of Suns, which just blew me away with the depth of the vision and the pitiless adherence to the limitations that our understanding of science (currently) puts on our celestial ambitions. Revelation Space then was a little bit of a disappointment. It starts off slow - glacial, even - with protagonists that are difficult to like. It has the same merciless hard sci-fi conventions as House of Suns, but wrapped up in a backdrop of factional in-fighting on the planets dispersed through the galaxy. Sounds great, but much of the extensive world-building that is done at the beginning turns into something of a grind. At numerous points, I was ready to just give up on it because there was so much exposition and so little progress in the plot - it seemed needlessly self indulgent. I am however glad I stuck with it, because once you get past the half-way mark the pace starts to pick up admirably. I'm not saying the world building was unnecessary, but Revelation Space seems like it could have been a shorter book and been much better for it. Towards the end, various threads start to come together in a way that is utterly beguiling - unfortunately, some of the impact of that is lost when you realise how little you'd read was actually relevant to the story.

Nonetheless, the ending was sufficiently good that I'm going to read the next one - it's a book that was very much saved by the dismount. I'd give the first half a two, and the second half a solid four.
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Format: Paperback
I love this book, like some people, I was bored by the first few pages, they didn't cut it for me. But I stuck at it and realised this book is a gem. The way Reynolds uncovers the plot piece by piece is beautiful.
Keep and eye on the dates underneath each chapter, story lines interupt each other and they are usually from different places at a different time. You have to create a timeline in your head with all these storylines on it. This may be confusing for some, but by the last third of the book Reynolds has tied them all together.
This is a beautifully written book, one of the best things about it is the lack of beauty described. Don't expect elegant space ships with nice gleaming curves, because there aren't many in this book.
Great read, recommended to all Science Fiction fans!
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Format: Paperback
Alastair Reynolds has produced an amazing masterpiece (an incredible debut!) blending the extrapolations of hard science with unforgettable characters set in a possible and disturbing future five centuries from now. This is a thinking person's novel, not light reading to be finished overnight. The conceptions from nanotechnology, astrophysics, genetic engineering, and computer science will stimulate you and keep you thinking long after finishing the book. It is so well written, that despite its length I was left wishing it would continue for a few hundred pages more. The vast panorama of intergalactic history and conflict, spanning billions of years, and the original ideas the author presents establish him as one of the most powerful voices of modern science fiction, in the tradition of Arthur Clarke, A.E. van Vogt, Jack Williamson, and a very few others. Although the power of this novel emerges primarily from the dizzying vistas of the future and the alien artifacts and civilizations it paints in cataclysmic brush strokes, it also features outstanding characters not easily forgotten: Khouri, the soldier assassin, and Ilia Volyova, the dynamic Triumvir on the starship Infinity, are easily two of the strongest female characters in sf literature, and the pathos of Dan Sylveste will long linger in memory as well. This novel is a first rate masterpiece of the calibre of Clarke's CHILDHOOD'S END, Williamson & Gunn's STAR BRIDGE, and A.E. van Vogt's VOYAGE OF THE SPACE BEAGLE. Highly recommended!
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