Reynolds again demonstrates why he is among the top of contemporary sci-fi writers. Readers familiar with the Revelation Space series will recall Chasm City which was centered on the Yellowstone system. In that tale, surrounding the planet was a mass of space detritus known as the Rust Belt. Its state was the result of an undefined prior event known as the melding plague that destroyed nearly all nanotech. In Prefect, Reynolds sets the story prior to Chasm City when the Rust Belt was at its pinnacle and known as the Glitter Band. Encompassing 10,000 discreet and sovereign habitats, Reynolds explores the diversity and evolution of human societal organization (from voluntary tyranny to demoncratic anarchy). The conjoiners as well as Silveste remnants and the shrouders also play a small role.
Holding the hodge-podge together is our hero, Tom Dreyfus, a prefect who enforces the minimal rules for orderly interaction among the habitats. From what begins as a routine investigation, Dreyfus gradually peels back the onion of an ever expanding conspiracy that threatens the entire Glitter Band. Along the way, he must face, the corrupt, the gullible, the naive, and the idiotic, but he always manages to remain focused on his ultimate objective: seeing that justice is served.
As is typical of Reynolds, the sci-fi is first rate. He also has a knack for instinctively recognizing that unique interaction of science and society and the likely results. At the heart, the tale is an exploration of the human struggle to evolve beyond mere biology with all the potential pitfalls clearly displayed. Finally, as usual John Lee performs outstandlingly; his range of voices are superb and he sets the right tenor to allow the tension to develop.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
Just coincidentally, I have recently listened to three sci-fi novels that all begin as police procedurals with law-enforcement agents investigating a localized crime that expands into a much more cosmic, universal mystery - The Prefect, The Great North Road, and Leviathan Wakes. The Prefect was by far the best of the three. Not only does The Prefect benefit from Reynold's elegant, evocative writing which is a cut above most other sci-fi writers, these are some of Reynold's best characters (primary protagonists and antagonists fleshed out with great back stories), the tightly woven plot is riveting with multiple twists, and the setting, The Glitter Band, is one of the coolest concepts from Revelation Space. Jon Lee does a bang-up job on this book - this is one where the Reynolds-Lee combo makes for a terrific audiobook. The Prefect will be an enjoyable listen for anyone who loves hard sci-fi even if you haven't read any of the Revelation Space trilogy, but if you have read the trilogy, the new stories of Philip Lascaille and Dan Sylveste in The Prefect will be extra fun.
I had previously lemmed this book twice. I kept wanting to read it out of order; being a stand-alone book I thought that would not be a problem. I would get a few chapters in and I would give up because the character strings were too complicated for me to follow. When I picked it up this time, after having read all the previous books in his Revelation Space universe, I fell into it like a fish in water. This is my favorite of all his books. This is the first of his books I am rating with 5 stars. The writing is crisp, suspenseful and as always imaginative. What an incredible ride this book was. I loved it.
This is a fun hard sci-fi story that is also an excellent crime novel. Yes, I admit that I am a fan of sci-fi/fantasy crossover crime stories. A sucker some might say. But this story offers way more than the usual fare. I really was sorry to come to the end of the story.
The Prefect presents plenty of terrific sci-fi society and sci-fi justice ideas, along with plot twists and cliff-hangers. Instead of a private eye, Reynolds presents a futuristic police procedural. The story isn't set on Earth but in a loose alliance of space habitats called the Glitter Belt.
Still, the main character is hard boiled and his backstory is revealed over the course of the novel. Artificial intelligences bad.
Narrator John Lee may be an acquired taste to some, bringing an astonishing range of British and European accents. The Glitter Belt in the far far future isn't speaking with an American accent.
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This is one of my favorite stories, and the audiobook version is fantastic. What a great trip to a new universe, to a totally new world that is so beautifully brought to life!
And the story can really stand up to the crazy environment it unfolds in... I found it gripping and was drawn in. I was really sad when it ended!
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
This was my first Reynolds book; I'm sure it will not be my last. I was impressed by his ability to combine a well realized science fiction setting with the elements of a contemporary thriller while also incorporating some of the character building associated with our better mystery writers. The result was that, after a somewhat plodding opening, I was fairly riveted for the remainder of the twenty hours. I cared about the characters, even some of the minor ones; I was fascinated by the milieu, and I could relate to the impending catastrophe in a way which compelled my attention.
Along the way, the author also manages to raise questions about the nature of evil and the trade offs between liberty, security and well being, and he does it with a light touch, never resorting to tiresome polemics. Happily he also never provides easy answers.
Narrators are probably the aspect of Audible listening most captive to individual tastes. Many people loved John Lee's work on this book. I did not. For me, a five star narration is one which adds to the work the author has done, not only consistent with it but building upon it to add understanding and delight. Narration which is simply and artfully invisible, never drawing attention to itself but always offering clarity and accuracy, is worth four stars. Lee's flat, almost metallic tone occasionally irritated me, and I did sometimes have to wonder who was speaking--so three stars. Certainly not enough to keep me from listening to another Reynolds book even if he were the narrator.
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Its Alastair Reynolds, and all his stuff is great for the most part, I like the way that Dreyfus has a Hyperpig as a partner or deputy Sparver is great and from listening to the other books he reminds me of Scorpio which is cool.
This is sorta a prequel to Chasm City because its before the Melding Plague, but this book was written after that book so if you like Reynolds stuff you probably already read that one - this is no problem because although this takes place before the Melding Plague its sorta a story of its own unlike the trilogy of Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, and Absolution Gap this book like Chasm City was a story that's just in the same universe as them, and Chasm City is the name of the city on the Planet or Moon named Yellowstone that the Glitter Band (latter re-named the rust belt) orbits a large gas giant with 10,000+ habitats.
The 10,000+ habitats are all self sufficient but all vote and that voting is policed by Panoply but they only insure fare voting, they dont care what else goes on inside the habitats - some are VT's or "Voluntarily Tyranny" where people actually want to be controlled, mostly this goes bad and there is nothing that can be done about it.
The good thing about this is that there are some technologies that are talked about in the other books but arent used anymore because of the Melding Plague, which is nice to see them used.
John Lee does a good job as usual but he really only has about 3-5 voices and mostly uses 2-3 of them at most - you have to get over this because its hard to follow because at times you can forget who is talking but thats OK because you figure it out pretty fast.
The end IMO hints at a possible explanation to the Melding Plague that is a large part of the other 4 books set in the universe, the Clockmaker and Aurora fighting it out, maybe after a time they combine forces and unwittingly create the Melding Plague?
I have read a few books from Reynolds several years ago, and I did like them. I was satisfied with The Prefect too. Actually, more than satisfied, I liked it very much.
Being a scifi fan, I always enjoy good science fiction stories. The Prefect is one of those which feels real. It happens in the future, in a far galaxy. The people use technology we just dream about today. There are futuristic habitats, which are members of an utopian democracy. But in spite of these, the story feels like it really happens. Reynolds makes the it so.
I listened to the audiobook version, and I can recommend it if you want a good book.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
Some will rightly describe this as hard sci-fi, but if by hard you think that means hard to follow, don't worry. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I was able to keep up with the story. There is a lot of tech in the story as it takes place way in the future, but it is all explained well and usually twice.
In the future there will be 10,000 man-made habitats orbiting a planet. In these habitats will be whatever a society wants. In one habitat over a million people live, but to save resources they are mostly heads living in a suitcase size box. In one state everyone is extremely wealthy, but too stay that way they have a lottery, in which the one chosen is slowly tortured. Movies of the torture are sold to other habitats. Some habitats want a totalitarian state. Most though live in some sort of virtual reality living out there fantasies. The habitats reminded me of an updated Philip Jose Farmer Terra Worlds (on steroids).
The Prefect's job is to keep any one habitat from interfering with any other habitats right to do there own thing. Even in a universe where you can chose from 10.000 different worlds to live in, someone always thinks they have better way to live and that their ways should be imposed on others.
The story kept my interest and there was certainly some interesting tech, but I was never really wowed and I thought 20 hours was too long. I have Revelation Space already in my queue, but after that I will probably not seek out this author.
John Lee has a very unique voice which always takes me a couple of hours to get used to. It distracts from the story. He has few voices. He gave the main character and the main bad guy the exact same voice and he does this with a few of the female characters, so at times there was a hesitation in my head on who was speaking, another distraction.
Reynolds is a master, and this is one of his strongest efforts yet. The voice performance is absolutely top notch as well. This tells a story involving 100,000,000 people and still feels down to earth and human, and has a beautiful touch of noir mystery to it. Whether you know the rest of the series or not, this book stands alone and I can't recommend it enough.