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4.0 out of 5 stars
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4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 16 November 2014
I first came into contact with Alastair Reynolds with his book House of Suns. It was on my bookshelf and I became absorbed entirely by the excellent narrative and character development (not to mention the exceptional level of hard science fiction, which one the writer his name, yet does not make it exclusively accessible to astrophysics students)

This book was no different. The book is his first published novel, and the difference in style is clear, he was still developing his voice, and fans will notice little details in this book that carry forward into his other word. But as a Sci-fi fan and writer I loved this book.

Let's start with some draw backs: At the beginning it seems a little clunky. It feels hard to get into, and I had to re-read a couple of pages a few times to make sure I really fully understood. But then he completely switches gear and I didn't put the book down - problem resolved.

The chapter structure is at first a little confusing, as he experiments with the use of flicking back and forth between main characters, but this is barely a flaw - you will grow to love it.

The pros have really already been highlighted. The narrative is excellent, this is science fiction at it's best. The characters are honest and allow for a true connection between themselves and the reader.

It takes place in a pretty near future when Earth has started to really develop it's own space faring exploits. Having mapped hundreds of solar systems and discovered some ancient alien civilisations now long dead. Characters are drawn together to a little dusty planet where all their fates collide. That is a pretty accurate and interesting highlight of the book, but I'm not the publisher.

I recommend this as the perfect introduction to Mr Reynolds and everything Sci-Fi.
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on 9 May 2017
Not very likeable characters but you just have to know their fates. Physics and drama on a grand universal scale.
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on 5 August 2003
There are those who marginalise science fiction, people who refuse to see it as a true literary genre, but as mere simple storytelling with lasers and robots thrown in. I doubt if any of those people would be found reading this review, but it's worth stating nevertheless.
I spend a great deal of time espousing the talents of Iain M Banks, and for those who cannot make the leap in one go, I suggest his 'contemporary fiction' (a much more seriously taken genre) work as a stepping stone. Starting with Banks creates high expectations and it becomes difficult to suggest further reading. No more. Alastair Reynolds has achieved that benchmark with his first novel, packed with intriguing characters, believable technology, densely packed background, excitement, adventure and suspense, with enough pathos and emotion thrown in to leave the reader gasping for breath as they rush headlong to the finale.
Combining the high adventure and escapism of the best fantasy and an empathic link to the moods and mores of our present times, Revelation Space is a book you can confidently recommend to anyone you know teetering on the brink of, for many, the undiscovered country of science fiction.
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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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on 11 March 2017
Not the easiest of read given its complicated, 'dense' approach and style, but well worth persevering with for its convoluted manner and style. I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this as much as I did, but the different races and evolving threats drew me in and made sure I remained engaged throughout.

I knew this was part of an evolving story - trilogy - but this first volume had enough reveals to keep my attention, often the opposite being the failing of other works where everything is held and exposed in the last 10 pages of volume 3!
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on 7 August 2005
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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on 13 April 2016
This is a complex novel and I liked certain aspects of it. One of these is the fact that, despite the main characters are not few, the author still managed to deepen them. It’s easy to create a bond with one of them that allows you to immerse yourself in the story. In my case the character with which I was able to immediately establish a bond was Dan Sylveste, perhaps because it is one of the first to make its appearance in the novel.
The world building is very good, too. Reynolds shows to possess an enormous imagination when creating planets, societies, and unimaginable aliens, like the Pattern Jugglers that, in fact, are living oceans. While creating from nothing a complex universe with very few references to our reality, the author still managed to make it believable. You don’t feel a sense of detachment that could be typical in this kind of stories. In this sense it is of considerable help the beautiful, engaging, and poetic prose.
Finally, the story ends with an open ending better than that of another book I read (Century Rain), as the main characters have a growth that is realized thanks to the ending.
But there are aspects that have prevented me from giving full marks to this book.
While reading, it soon becomes clear that it presupposes certain knowledge by the reader of some aspects of the story, the names, and the characters themselves. At the beginning of the book there is a written glossary for this purpose, but you cannot really think that someone gets to read it, and then maybe they remember it, before they start reading the novel. Thus one has the constant impression of reading the second book in a series, in other words, that a part of the story is missing. Further explanations within the novel would be useful, where they were required to help the reader's understanding.
The same open ending that I mentioned before, even if in itself it is a well-crafted resolution of the events, however, causes me a sense of dissatisfaction that I cannot decipher, perhaps because I didn’t like the role of Sylveste, because he undergoes the events, without being able to do anything to alter them.
In addition, there is pessimistic view of the future, both in the images and tones, which does not fit at all in my comfort zone.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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VINE VOICEon 2 May 2005
This is one of the hardest books I have read, though certainly not THE hardest, as it quickly sets its pace as heavy science fiction. Perhaps the happy medium between the elaborate science fantasies of Iain M Banks and the intense descriptions of Arthur C. Clark. Reynolds paints the portrait of the future with a brush that both can invision all the unknown fantasies as well as respect even the most detailed levels of astrophysics and science.

The story seemed to be quite slow to start, bouncing between three different characters whose destinies are bound to converge: Sylveste - a fantastic and renown archeologist who uncovers the remains of a long dead alien species on a barren moon and becomes infatuated with uncovering the secrets of their mysterious demise. Khouri - a soldier/bounty hunter who is hired to track down Sylveste and kill him, though she is never told why. Volyova - a weapons specialist aboard an interstellar starship, crewed by a handful of cyborgs, who seek Sylveste and the artificial simulation of his father, who may be the only man who can cure their dying Captain.

The story is a complicated one, set over a stretch of fifteen years from the first discovery of the remains of an ancient civilisation, to the end where all the different pieces of the story fit together.

Whilst the telling of the story is fantastic and very elaborate, I could not help but feel a small bit dissapointed towards the end. Given the length of the book and the patience that it expects of the reader, the story certainly could have been made more interesting or with a better twist at the ending. Many ideas were not covered as well as they could have been, the Shrouds for example were suggested to be the hiding grounds of the technologies of long since departed alien species, though they are never explained in the detail that they deserve. Perhaps that is something to be covered in the later books.

One thing to be certain is that this book marks the opening of a very interesting and fresh series of science fiction novels.
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on 17 December 2003
Revelation Space is an great sci fi debut from an undoubtedly talented writer.
Dan Sylveste is an egotistical scientist on the planet Resurgam. He is obbsessed with Resurgam's long extinct culture, the Amarantin. This obsession activates a great threat, one that is enduringly hostile to all intelligent life that reaches a certain threshold. Humanity has now reached that threshold.
Reynolds handles his material deftly and with great skill, weaving parallell storylines that eventually come together. Most of the characters are pretty unlikable, and many have hidden agendas which are eventually revealed. Its the great story that propels you forward to an entirely novel and unexpected conclusion.
This is space opera in the grand tradition of Asimov and Van Vogt. Revelation Space is amply endowed with all the great stuff of classic space opera - fantastic technologies, amazing cultures and exotic locales. Reynolds has created an exciting but dark universe, one that has depth and substance and has a place in an unfolding cosmic order or design, which is the hallmark of great space opera. It will be fascinating watching Reynolds develop this universe in subsequent novels (see Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap, both of which continue the story started in Revelation Space - Reynolds Chasm City is more of an excursion, but set in the same universe).
So why 4 stars and not 5? Despite its great strengths Revelation Space is a tad long and would have benefitted by having a couple of hundred pages lobbed of. One gets the impression that Reynolds had decided to produce a breeze block of a certain length and did not stop writing untill he had the appropriate amount of words to constitute that breeze block. The novel is also a bit slow to start, and takes a couple of hundred pages to get into.
Despite that, Reynolds dark and compelling universe is well worth entering.
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on 12 August 2003
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
It's a long book, but don't let that put you off. The description is dense but not gratuitous. The detail drives the connections in the story. The tale is about the planet Resurgam, a long since dead ancient race the Amarantin, a ship and how they are all connected. The cast is compact, the story and the scale of the tale vast. One of the things that impresses me about this book is that through the density of the prose the author never manages to loose his grip on the story he is telling or allows himself to get overly indulgent in his descriptions. Though it might be a bit rich in taste for the more casual reader. There is work that needs to be done when reading this book. The rewards are vast. The reader gains a deep understanding about the main cast, their motivations, characters and their lives. I have one niggle in that the secondary characters can sometimes feel less rounded but that is because he has made them interesting and I have this need to find out more about them rather than the author has mad them flat and mere plot devises.
There is a great build up in the telling of this tale leading up to the ending in which several threads have been woven together in ways that in the beginning I could not have seen being connected, They are not left to dangle and disappoint but they are neatly enough tidied up. There are a couple of things about the ending that surprise me one being its swiftness. I think its because I have been over fed throughout the tale I expect that the ending will be explained in detail. I do just about get what happens in the end but I am not sure why and what is greater purpose is. It might be explained in the next book. One I can't wait to read,
I've gone through this review not telling you much about the story to say too much would spoil it, it's a grand space opera the best I've read. Go read it.
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