Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
As hard SF goes, Revelation Space is definitely on the “harder” end of the spectrum. It's a got a complex, ambitious plot, with all sorts of far future tech casually treated as normal fixtures of reality. The novel's vision of dark, mysterious alien powers, which are behind the disappearance of civilizations whose ruins are found throughout the galaxy, is intriguing. The protagonists are the "gritty, complex" sort, driven by their own personal agendas, and not unwilling to manipulate or even betray the others. Reynolds does a good job of writing clearly, conveying a sense of the underlying science without over-examining it. He also deserves credit for writing some convincingly tough female characters, without making a big deal about it. The plot wasn’t uninteresting.
On the minus side, Revelation Space suffers (in my opinion) from a flaw common to other hard sci-fi, namingly that its intricate plot machinations and cerebral focus don't leave much breathing space for the emotional aspects of the story. Though the main characters are credible enough, it’s hard to care about them, and I found myself wishing that Reynolds would slow down on the intrigues, shipboard politics, and space battles, and offer a little more of the awe and wonder that I read science fiction for in the first place. For example, there's a scene towards the end of the book in which a character penetrates a vast alien artifact, but Reynolds barely gives any attention to what it looks like, or the character's reactions. Talk about a wasted moment. Though it’s been years since I’ve read Dan Simmon’s Hyperion, *he* made such scenes into page-turner material.
Unfortunately, the audiobook experience adds another flaw: the reader doesn’t leave any space between scene switches! This led to numerous rewinds on my part, whenever I wasn't paying close attention. The character backstories get a little confusing.
In sum, your opinion of this book will probably depend heavily on whether or not your tastes already include a lot of hard SF (Vernor Vinge, Peter Hamilton). If so, there’s plenty of smart stuff in Revelation Space. However, for other readers, the lack of much emotional resonance might override the other selling points.
Aging Gen-Xer. Umpteenth generation Southerner. IT professional. Devourer of audiobooks.
I did not enjoy this book, though I finished it at least. The characters were the issue, poorly developed with not a redeeming quality between them. The story would sway from tedious slogging detail about the most mundane topics, and then blow through interesting bits in a paragraph or two.
I'm a huge fan of Peter F. Hamilton's "universe" and have devoured them all. I guess I was hoping for something of that quality with this series. Alas, no.
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
This is book one in the main sequence of the Revelation Space series. Based on listener recommendations I postponed listening until after first hearing CHASM CITY. And it was a good thing I did or I would have never gotten around to Chasm City. This book has many of the same elements, many of the same political machinations, the same level of fantastic technology, but none of the spark of genius, none of the psychological surprises of Chasm City that make it so fantastic. Sure there are glimpses of what Reynolds is capable of but, on its own, this book does not inspire. What this book does offer is an extensive compendium of advanced technological marvels. It hearkens me back to some of the Science Fiction of old where the gadget was the thing. I would compare this to Herman Melville’s MOBY DICK. But before you think this is a glowing recommendation, please read on. My assessment of Moby Dick is this: It is an exciting 70 page revenge novella imbedded in a tedious 400 page Maritime encyclopedia. Revelation space is a seventy megabyte (70 MB) short story encased in a one gigabyte (1GB) speculative fiction catalog of ideas. It has the scant characterization one would expect from a short story, and also like a short story, has great ideas that make it worthwhile. One thing I can say in its defense: This book, like any Hard Science Fiction stripped of story and characters, is still a fascinating exploration into scientific speculation, while Epic Fantasy stripped of the same is just so much double double toil and trouble. All in all it is a interesting book, but more for the ideas than for the characterization or for the story.
John Lee, who is much better reading Chasm City, is here less engaging. His smooth voice never seems to impart any sense of urgency to the experience, and this book does need some inspired help. He does have a wonderful sonorous voice that is never tiring, so he makes it pleasant to plod through the litany of technological wonders hour after hour. My chief complaint for him is that some of his women sound more masculine than his men. Maybe I am being too critical of the novel REVELATION SPACE because I see enough potential here to hear the series out to the end, and Chasm City shows how good this series can be. I guess that I am just a sucker for a gadget story.
Alastair Reynolds is one of the leading lights writing this generation's space opera, and his perspective (European, a PhD in Astronomy) gives his stories a very contemporary feel. I like the hard SF setting, with slower-than-light starships and ancient, dead civilizations instead of living aliens, and parts of this book were quite spooky and sinister. When the crew is prowling the corridors of the huge spaceship Infinity avoiding "rats" and other creatures controlled by a hostile intelligence, it felt like one of those old sci-fi horror movies.
Revelation Space is full of great ideas, especially in the conclusion, where it turns out that the small and large intrigues of the main characters have all been leading them to a confrontation on a much larger scale than they imagined: a threat that could end the human race. I like high-stakes stories like this. So this book was basically a recipe for everything I should love in a sci-fi novel.
So why only 3 stars? Because another crucial ingredient for me (and this is very much my own preference, which is why other people may love this book) is characters who feel real and who I like at least a little. Reynolds's characters aren't as wooden as those of some other hard SF writers, and he gives them plenty of background and motivation and personality, but after describing all those things, he doesn't spend much time letting them live and breathe and reminding you why they are interesting. They just go about their business executing the plot. As soon as the book ended, I was thinking about the story and the technology, but the characters were mostly forgettable.
Unfortunately, there were also parts of the book that just plain bored me; listening to the audio, sometimes my mind drifted and I didn't catch (or care about) all the details. Also, I just did not like John Lee's narration. He gave everyone an accent, not always distinct ones, and I didn't like all the voices.
While I am sure that this is a very well written novel, I am having a great deal of difficulty with it in the audio version.
The voice changes between characters is somewhat confused, with imitation accents being the main difference. Sometimes though, the accents used are inappropriate for the particular character.
It is difficult to follow the reading here. Whether this is due to my hearing loss in specific frequencies, or just the continual drone of the reader, I am not sure.
Do listen to the audio clip before downloading this book. I think it might be better in written form.
I loved this book. It was my first from audible.com, and I was not only immediately sucked into the story, but I also really enjoyed the narration. Regardless of what other reviewers have said, I found the accents and dialects to be well done, unlike many contrived and corny variations. John Lee's voice acting is subtle and properly punctuated, without all the histrionics that usually ruin audiobooks. Moreover, although lengthy, Reynolds moved the plot along well while dipping into details that thoroughly paint just the right picture. The description and detail is vivid and expansive, and I frequently felt as though I was wandering the Nostalgia for Infinity spacecraft when some corridor or facility was described. The characters were compelling and interesting, and you really want to know each one's story as the plot thickens. And with no real "good guy," I still empathized with the various protagonists, wanting them each to succeed at their respective goal - even when it meant contradicting or conflicting with other characters' motivations. Really great. I'm suggesting it to all my SF fan friends, and moving on to Chasm City.
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OK so it goes without saying that if you read this book you have to read the other 2 (Redemption Ark, and Absolution Gap) as well as these ones (The Perfect[which is a prequil to all the all], and Chasm City[which is a prequil to RS])
do you like Peter F. Hamilton? - they you should like these books
Revelation Space starts off with three seemingly unrelated narrative strands that eventually meet and merge as the novel progresses. This plot device is characteristic of many of Reynolds' works.
Its the year 2524 on Resurgam, a planet considered a backwater on the edge of colonized human space. Dan Sylveste, an archaeologist, leader of the colony, and wealthy scion of a prominent scientific family, leads a team excavating the remains of the Amarantin, a long-dead, 900,000-year-old civilization that once existed on Resurgam. As a violent dust storm threatens to temporarily shut down the excavation, Sylveste discovers new evidence that the entire Amarantin race was wiped out in a single mysterious cataclysm, which happens to coincide with the Amarantin's advancement to a starfaring culture.
As Sylveste and the crew of the Nostalgia for Infinity approach Cerberus, Sylveste realizes the massive celestial body isn't a planet at all but rather, a massive technological beacon, aimed at alerting machine sentience to the appearance of new star-faring cultures. It is this beacon, Sylveste belatedly realizes, that alerted a machine intelligence known as the Inhibitors to the presence of the Amarantin, and ultimately caused the demise of that race.
The book jumps frequently between scenes and plot lines, a common technique for building suspense, which works fine in print where white space on the page is your cue for the scene change. However, for an audiobook, you need cue... normally a long pause in other audio books. In this recording, there is no cue! No pause, no page turn sound, nothing! It makes it very difficult to listen to because the scene changes are often during conversations, so you don't even know which characters are speaking. Very annoying!!
The story itself is wonderful, except for the ending which is literally deus ex machina.
The editor and the narrator were HORRIBLE. I have heard this is a really good book but I will never be able to finish because of this crappy performance.
There is absolutely no indication that the narration has moved from one character story arc to another. It is very confusing. At one moment you are following along, the next you have no clue what is going on. Then you realize you have moved to a separate story arch. There isn't even a pause in the narration. You could believe they are in the same sentence when they have crossed chapters.
Unfortunately due to eye issues I won't be able to read this book. I have heard it is a good book from people who have read it.
I LOVE this genre
ANYONE. He is the only narrator that I refuse to listen to again. (I have 150 audible books and maybe 50 more audio books not through audible). He ruined A Feast of Crows by George R R Martin so bad they sent it back and had Roy Dotrice re-narrate it. Unfortunately I listened to the John Lee version. At least I can go back and listen to the remake with Roy Dotrice who is an excellent narrator.
....be prepared to invest some time in the series as each book is long (a 'plus' for me) and the connecting plot ('long plot') is strung out loosely throughout each book. This isn't a 'con' for the series but its not as direct as Peter F Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga/Void Trilogy and could be an adjustment depending on what you are used to.
I found this to be a good book but i think it was a little tough to listen to b/c the of the way the author used the character names. Maybe it was just me but I found myself confused by characters being called different names at different times w/o being properly linked back to the 'common' name used throughout the rest of the book. Mainly this happened when the author switched from the common last name to the first name in dialogue. Perhaps knowing that upfront, listening to the book will be easier for you.
Other than that, the story was very entertaining and John Lee did an excellent job. At this point i hardly feel its necessary to mention Lee's performance b/c they are a staple of any audiobook. I don't have any doubts about the 'listening' aspect when i see its John Lee.