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on 16 July 2012
I had heard great things about Alastair Reynolds from several friends, and so decided to begin at the beginning, with his debut novel. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, although I can only say that I have been pleasantly surprised. Reynolds has managed quite a feat, and alloyed 'hard' sci fi, drawing on his astrophysicist background and utilising many of the latest theories; with space opera, that thrilling blend of battling spaceships and exotic alien planets.

We start inocuously enough, with a minor archaeological dig on a newly colonised planet, but the scope soon opens up to involve a terrible nanotechnological plague, a vast spaceship crewed by menacing transhumans, an ex-soldier turned assassin, and a rather good explanation for the Fermi Paradox, among other things...

For the first few chapters, I was somewhat struggling to keep up with the three main plot strands, happening as they do several years apart. It was only at this time that I realised; because of the relativistic nature of near-light-speed travel that Reynolds utilises here, the strands were all due to converge. An extremely clever trick, and representative of the amount of thought the author has put into his setting.

His characters are all well-drawn, from the sardonic, chain-smoking Ilia to the obessive academic Sylveste, and all of them defy such easy labels as 'hero' or 'villain'. Each of the POV characters has a unique voice and vastly differing goals and motivations, which keeps the reader's interest as the plot twists and turns. Perhaps a couple of them are TOO oblique, but they tend to be the background figures.

As the first part of a trilogy, some loose ends are inevitably left at the end of the book; indeed, the 'main' plot line is barely scratched. However, it stands on its own as a toweringly imaginative science fiction epic in its own right, a blend of two styles of sci fi that work surprisingly well together. I will be EXREMELY interested to see where Reynolds goes from here; he is obviously a talent to watch.
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on 24 October 2010
Having first read the superb `House of Suns', I couldn't wait to read more Alistair Reynolds and decided to go back to the beginning. Revelation Space is, without doubt, an absolute masterpiece. The imagined universe is magnificent and the sense of the faded glories and lost secrets of ancient and vanished civilisations counterpoints humanities youth and relative naivety. Against the backdrop of a factional and slightly degenerate human civilisation, Reynolds has crafted a complex narrative populated by a small cast of entirely believable main characters. I must confess to having been a bit confused with the chronology for the first hundred pages or so until the separate storylines started converging elegantly. Thereafter, the plot seethed with intrigue and the complex motivations of the players and storyline twists kept me guessing right up to the end.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Reynolds does not feel the need to show-off with tedious treatises on particle physics or molecular biology; his science is subtly woven into the narrative and never becomes intrusive. I absolutely loved this book and, needless to say, I have bought more Alistair Reynolds and I can't wait to have time to read them.
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on 13 August 2015
It took a while to get into, and felt a little slow at first, but that could have been me reading in short bursts.

The book starts with three quite unconnected characters; an assassin, a science officer aboard a starship crewed very lightly indeed, and an archeologist investigating the death of a human-like culture thousands of years in the past

When the three come together, the story belts along, with the archeologist (by now revealed as a fair bit more) pursuing his own agenda despite some enormously high stakes

Excellent storytelling, with an impressive ability to drip feed just enough information to keep you guessing till the end.

Wonderfully inventive and compelling story, brilliantly told, and with well-realised future-human culture.

Great for fans of 'deep' sci fi who love a good (human) story
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on 30 January 2013
Yes this book is fiction, but i'm not so sure it can be labelled science fiction, I would say fiction based on science future fact. This I think is the way our future is going, and what might seem very scary and quite unsettling to us now, will be normal to the people then. I have to admit I was totally blinded by the scientific terminology, but if you keep reading you do begin to understand the visions that Alastair is trying very successfully to convey. I loved the characters and the way they all had thier part to play in what turned out to be a real page turner, after the scene was set in the beginning. I gave the book four stars because I was a little disappointed with the ending, it has been done so many times before. Will I read another Alastair Reynolds book? yes I will, but I will be reading all of the reviews first.
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on 22 July 2010
I really enjoyed this book. It's full of interesting ideas and characters and it's scope is vast. I could hardly put it down and before I had finished I purchased Redemption Ark. A great piece of science fiction. I look forward to continuing my exploration of the Revelation Space Universe.

For those who are interested in the best order to read the Revelation Space books, Alastair Reynolds says "You should read Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap in that order - although I've met people who read and enjoyed them in completely the opposite order. Chasm City,The Prefect, and the collections Galactic North and Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days can be read in any order, before, after or during the three other books."
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on 4 January 2010
I wish I could give this book 5 stars - it is so close to being a sci-fi great, not so much for itself as a standalone story, but for what is promised in the novels that are to follow. The scale of Revelation Space is, pardon the expression, a revelation. Where does this guy get his ideas from? How does Reynolds manage to combine so many elements of the hard sci-fi genre with readability? The story arc spans billions of years and takes us across vast swathes of the galaxy, a galaxy that is surprisingly empty and quiet.

Nearly a million years ago, the Amarantin civilisation was annihilated just as it began to explore the stars. Revelation Space explains why, but the answer takes us on a crazy journey to the mysterious realm of the Shrouders, tells us the fate of Chasm City, introduces believable AI and shows us some of the flavours of human kind - future style, amongst a dozens other delights.

Although set in a future of staggering scientific advancement, Revelation Space is very familiar and entirely believable. However, I think Reynolds is hamstrung by his ambition in many ways. For example, there is so much information, so many essential intricacies to share with the reader, that at times he breaks one of the golden rules of writing - he tells rather than shows. All of a sudden, we'll get hit by a narrative slab that explains gaps in our knowledge or, characters will engage in a bit of `as you know, the blah blah blah.' In fairness, if Reynolds didn't do this, his books would be too large to bind! Furthermore, the story sometimes gets lost in the magnificence of the background and universe building. Some of the characters are a little weak, too cipher-like, and one, Sun Stealer didn't seem to quite sit right.

Nevertheless, I'll be reading every last one of this guy's books.
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on 6 December 2016
The main character evolves out of all recognition between beginning and end such that it stretches credibility but all the same there are many interesting ideas and concepts that make the background interesting for SciFi fans and the story line is gripping and fast paced. I'd recommend it and indeed have to friends, and gone on to buy another by Reynolds, so that about says it all doesn't it.
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on 8 October 2008
This is a fantastic novel from Alastair Reynolds who really took a gamble with this in my opinion, and it paid off spectacularly.

Throughout the book the author continually demonstrates his significant grasp of Physics (he was working at Cern at the time afterall), and his painting of a future universe which is not all wine and roses is refreshing.

However he does have a tendancy to let himself down by overdoing the physics by intoducing overcomplicated technobabble where its sometimes not required, this can detract from the tension that he has so expertly built up and this can spoil certain scenes.

The sense of claustrophobia and lonleliness with the Volyova story arc is masterful storytelling. The story builds to a tumultous conclusion which leaves you really wanting more from this universe and the characters involved.

A great intoduction to a vast new universe.
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on 23 August 2014
Just managed to make it to 5 stars, to be honest half way through it would have struggled to get 3. It was a huge book though and a massive story line, beautifully constructed. It builds and builds and builds, so hence it has to have 5 stars for the second half and sheer value for money. Excellent, I shall be reading more from Mr Reynolds universe.
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on 26 May 2016
What a wonderful read, and to discover this is the first of a series is such a welcomed relief, I shall be ordering the next in the group immediately upon completing this review. Congratulations Mr Reynolds you have become one of my preferred contemporary authors.
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