With no other resources at his disposal, Sylveste forges a dangerous alliance with the cyborg crew of the starship Nostalgia for Infinity. But as he closes in on the secret, a killer closes in on him because the Amarantin were destroyed for a reason. And if that reason is uncovered, the universe - and reality itself - could be irrevocably altered.
©2008 Alastair Reynolds; (P)2008 Tantor
"One of the best books of the year." (Science Fiction Chronicle)
"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)
Sci-fi, History, Police Procedurals and Science
If you like really broad, complex space-opera (meant in the very best way) this series is worth the investment of the time and attention it demands. It is on my list of the best SF ever. (Along with: Simmons' 4 Hyperion books, Peter F. Hamilton's Pandora's Star/Void Series and some other really long stuff.)
This is one book in a complex and dark series (see below) -- a good place to start. 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. The subsequent books go further and further.
Here is a thought that I totally agree with: Thomas M. Wagner of SF Reviews wrote that "images and bits and pieces of the novel simply would not get out of my head. This is saying something, since, with the volume of SF and fantasy I read, I do not exactly retain an eidetic memory of everything I've read that I can call up in a second or two unless the book literally bowled me over. But in the case of Revelation Space, two and three years later I still could remember the opening scene. . .with remarkable clarity. The. . .corridors of the vast starship Nostalgia for Infinity still brought haunting images to mind."
That's it -- it just ticks with you just like the Hyperion and Pandora's Star/Void books do.
As I said in another review, I once got hooked on the biography of Alexander Hamilton which led to biographies on all of the Founding Fathers and then the history of the Civil War. . .this was the same thing. You can get so far into it that by the time you end, at least a seaon has passed. Darkly Hypnotic.
The Revelation Space series includes five novels, two novellas, and eight short stories set over a span of several centuries, spanning approximately 2200 to 40 000, although the novels are all set in a 300 year period spanning from 2427 to 2727. In this universe, extraterrestrial sentience exists but is elusive, and interstellar travel is primarily undertaken by a class of vessel called a lighthugger which only approaches the speed of light (faster than light travel is possible, but it is so dangerous that no race uses it). The trilogy consists of Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap.
Fun in a challenging and broad way.
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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.
Mr. Reynolds is an excellent story teller and, in particular, a great SF author. He is able to weave a delightful tale mixing extraordinary scientific developments with an intriguing account incorporating mystery, adventure, and beguiling characters. Mr. Lee is well suited to tell the tale. His slight accent and intonations add to the suspense. This book is a must listen for anyone who likes SF.
If you like hard science fiction this is probably worth a listen. An expansive, harsh universe is revealed through multiple points of view in the book. Perhaps the most interesting ideas in this book are related to examining inevitable outcomes of multiple species evolving to the point of interstellar expansion... and, of course, conflict.
Three things that were distracting in the book for me:
1) The narrarator's conucopia of dialect: you can play spot the accent with French, Japanese, Russian, and (I kid you not) rastafari.
2) The insertion by the author of almost trite names for important players in the book like "sun stealer" and "nostalgia for infinity." Imagine if Frank Herbert had called Arrakis "the big sandy orb."
3) All the grand and mysterious buildup seems to end rather abruptly.. left me wondering if the author was writing to beat a deadline.
Those issues were not enough to prevent enjoying the book.. great concepts, interesting ideas.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
I really wanted to like this book. Recommendations I highly trust convinced me to buy it and listen. I really wanted them to be proven right, despite some reviews to the contrary. After 26 hours (22 hour running time plus several hours of relistening to parts that were hard to follow, sometimes two, three, four times over), my feeling about this book was clearly going to hinge on the ultimate revelations during the final hours. No spoilers, but after so much tedious writing and listening, the reveals were disappointing and anticlimactic. Not worth the wait. An investment gone bad.
Until then, I was at about 3 1/2 stars, ready to conclude that this is a book better read than heard. The pace is glacial, plot and character development inching along at an excruciating rate, if at all. The writing style, from start to finish, consistently violates the first rule of good fiction: show, don't tell. Here's a newflash, Al: having your characters explain things to each other as their main form of dialogue is no better than your own lengthy expositions -- both are prime examples of bad writing. Not that I'm here to judge you as a writer -- it's just painful to listen to.
A book editor should have cut this novel in half and instructed the author to dramatize, not recite, his plot points, technical descriptions, settings, etc. Newsflash number two, Al: that also helps in character development, which you have absolutely failed to do, despite a number of highly original creations. Case in point, to take a scene where you do show rather than tell: when Ilia is falling through the ship and figures out how to save herself -- an action scene that shows us her character and describes the ship and its propulsion technology. Sadly, the only example I can think of.
The audio director should have been fired for the hatchet job this book has undergone. Many reviewers have already lambasted the lack of any way to distinguish between sections as scenes and characters shift, as well as the gratuitous accents. Not that John Lee does a bad job, he is actually pretty good, reading at a good pace, and doing well with the accents -- the director should have directed him to just read, no accents.
One technical issue that hasn't been pointed out elsewhere: The volume variations make this recording almost unlistenable in a car or through ear buds. It goes from sotto voce to a shout in a heartbeat, and back. I found that a single uptick of volume often took it from too low to too loud, and vice versa. And then of course, with relevant plot points occurring only once every half hour or so, if you're stuck in volume purgatory, you can easily miss it, and not even realize that you've missed anything until hours later.
One reviewer says that this is not the Revelation Space book to start with, so I think I will give the series another shot. Not right away, mind you -- I'm going to listen to something short and funny next.
I am an avid reader. I am intelligent enough to understand the most complex equipment mankind produces (aerospace stuff) However, this audiobook is seriously flawed. The story is actually a good one, but it needs significant editing and revision for reader comprehension. Other reviews hinted at the lack of audio cues between sub chapters. The listener easily becomes confused when the story changes from one situation and set of characters, to the next without any indication. I'm still back with Sylveste on some planet and the story has moved on to spaceship ops with Volyova, without any indication, without even a breath or pause in the narrator's delivery. Hence, serious confusion.
To make matters worse, uncommon words are used throughout the story. Words, that are difficult to decipher in context. And difficult to find via Google. Words such as "escritoire" are used throughout the story. I guessed the "scrit" meant writing, and guessed it was a writing desk. However, in the story, that's certainly not clear. No writing went on. I suspect, but don't really know that this word was substituted for something akin to a desktop computer terminal. Other unusual words are simply not described in detail, and take some time to work out. However, by this time, the listener is getting downright annoyed.
Furthermore, John Lee, while highly regarded, really does not perform well here. He has a tendency to get close to the microphone during the first or second word in a sentence, and then trail off the volume by the end of the sentence. This means, that to hear his words in a car, the volume must be very loud. So loud, an early word is ear splitting, and by the end of the sentence, it's impossible to hear. I had to use earbuds to understand him. Not every sentence was this way, but it happened often enough to be really annoying.
In addition, John Lee uses annoying fake accents to denote characters. Many words are nearly unintelligible while driving down the road. Once again, requiring sealed earbuds to hear it clearly enough to understand. His pronunciation is less than clear at times.
Overall, I had to listen to the first third of the book 3 times over, just to understand what was happening. It's really not that complex, just that the writing style and delivery make it incomprehensible.
Revise and edit the story for clarity. Have the narrator indicate when storyline changes. In other words, insert chapters where there are none.
A truly epic story, ruined by failure to edit for clarity and poor narration.
Tell me about hard sci fi books!
The world building. Reynolds gives a good feel for the Revelation Space universe while not diverting from an entertaining plot.
I like the convergence of the characters' stories. They initially seemed quite unconnected.
The little skirmish on the surface of Resurgam with Khouri and Volyova
Reynolds is yet to make me cry, but this book has a lot of suspense and excitement.
This book held my interest enough for me to finish listening to all 22 hours, but just barely. The biggest problem with this book was that I didn't particularly like any of the main characters, and therefore didn't care what happened to any of them. As I listen while driving and while working on physical tasks like woodworking, I was frequently completely lost about what was going on. This was due to the author's tendency to throw wild technological ideas at the reader while switching between protagonists with little or no warning that a context switch had occurred.
For most of the book I had little understanding of the motivations of the protagonists, although it becomes more clear at the end.
On the positive side, the author did a good job of creating a universe limited by the speed of light. The ship itself was fascinating, an ancient vessel which had over the years become decrepit like a 30 year old automobile which the owners had kept on the road but most of the non-essential features are either broken or have quirks.
As a space opera, of course the fate of mankind is on the line. The story is original, but the whole crisis seemed rather abstract and really did not have me on the edge of my seat. The narrator does a good job except for the occasional mispronounced word.
Overall, I thought this book was not terrible, but could have been better. I will not be rushing to get the next book in the series.
The book sets up some very interesting premises. I'm curious to see how it all wraps up.
That said, the book moves painfully slow, at times. I wouldn't say any of it was superfluous, everything seemed to have a reason, but there was a lot of time spent with not much happening.
And I agree with previous reviewers that the editing makes it a very hard listen. A lot of times I can multi-task when listening to an audiobook but not much with this one. Even walking to and from work could be a challenge as I had to pay close attention to scene changes or I'd miss them. There literally is no pause between segments.
The explanation for the state of the galaxy was an intriguing one and something I'd not heard before.
More distinction between character voices. Everyone has almost the same accent. Couple that in with the lousy editing job and you've got a recipe for confusion. Normally I love John Lee's narration but this was not his best work.
Pretty sure it has one.
Fro me, this book is a little hard-core science fiction. I can appreciate that the author is himself a scientist, but maybe that's what got in the way. It has been a few days since I finished this book, and to tell you the truth, I can't remember any of the characters. There is one, Sylveste(?) but I only remember the name because I used to live near Sylvester, GA. See, I couldn't stay on track with the story if nonsense like that kept bubbling up in my mind in the middle of the thing.
Just so you know I did slog through it, this is what I DID get, that Revelation Space is some kind of liquid planet where when you go swimming, it takes all your personality and knowledge and sometimes gives you back some of the knowledge it's been sucking out of other people. And sometimes it just spits you out, a mass of salmon-colored slime. Apparently some people think this is a great idea, because they are all looking for it.
1. There was no apparent pause or breath or whatever between the scene changes. I often had to back track to make sure I hadn't dozed off. Only now, by reading other reviews, did I learn that I am not crazy.
2. The narrator's fakey fakey accents were terribly distracting. Why, in the middle of space, millions of miles from earth, and several centuries forward, are people still talking with accents? I heard French mixed with German, Japanese that sounded like Charlie Chan (and that was fakey to begin with). I think the narrator got confused as to who was speaking with what accent, because at times it appeared like the entire dialogue was coming from a single character. Even when there was no dialogue, the narrator was sometimes reading with an accent...
3. Another thing, the characters had no character.
4. And, forget figuring out what gender a person is. The narrator didn't even TRY to sound female. We got all these Russian names, Spanish names, etc. and whatever. I could not figure out what sex these people were. After a while I didn't care.
I really wasted my time with this one. I have another of this author's books in my library and I am definitely not going to go there. The narrator is the same - oh, joy.
P.S. I looked this book up on Wikipedia and even after the "glowing" things it has to say about the Revelation Space Universe and Mr. Reynolds, I am not moved.
"ambitious and imaginative"
a great story that was very engaging. seemed to loose its way towards the end. good concepts. stayed away from sex and gore to focus on the sci fi. almost 5 stars.
"As others have said: Brilliant story ruined"
By awful narration.
Spend your credits on the Iain M Banks culture novels read by Peter Kenny.
Could not follow the plot - every sentence is sounded with an initial air of alarm tapering away, repeated over and over again. This reading style irritates and completely distracts you from following the plot.
Not with this reading style.
"Only for hardcore SciFi-Fans"
The narrator is awful. The story is very boring and confused.
Solution: Stringent novel and a better narrator.
Less confuding, more real confliczs bitween peoble and less preusotechnic.
The narrator is telling the story always in the same voice and sound and without excitement.
Not to recommend.
"Bit confusing at times"
The story was good but the narration left a bit to be desired. It jumped from viewpoint character to viewpoint character with no gap or notice and really confused me at times. Otherwise, epic in scope and can't wait to hear what happens next.
"You just need to pay attention"
There are some books that have very simple/predictable plot lines. You can casually listen to these on the move and not miss anything if you get distracted. By contrast Revelation Space requires listening effort, but is worth it. I initially listened too casually and about one and half hours in I had to accept that I did not really know what was going on, so... I started again. I am glad I did.The narration is very good, but you need to pay attention, particularly in the first third of the book, the scenes switch with no warning. In the end I enjoyed this aspect.Interesting story, good science and original.
"Not suitable as an audio book"
I read this novel in paperback a number of years and thought that getting it as an audio book would be a good way to re-read (listen) to it.
The story is first rate but it may be just too complex for most people as an audio book.
At the beginning the chapters jump from plot line to plot line and while the chapters are noted the transitions are jarring and it takes a long time to get up to speed on everything that is going on. Eventually the plot lines start to converge and things get better but this is a very exhausting listen and at the end instead of looking forward to the next one you want to go have a lie down.
Again, the story is very good and I certainly recommend getting the print version and the narration is quite good but you need to be a dedicated Science Fiction fan (I am) to get through this.
I have listened to the first part of this book maybe 5 times, I couldn't tell you what its about or any of the characters names. The narrator seems to have some sort of midwiping ability.
Nothing with this guy reading it.
The narrator was just so horribly bland I have never given up on an audio book until now...
"Enjoyable plot, so-so ending, and average narrator"
I don't like John Lee performances that much, especially after listening to books with other narrators. I find it hard to distinguish between characters.
Eventually I get used to it, and doesn't distract that much.
I found the beginning quite slow and boring. Halfway through, things start getting more interesting.
"The Ministry of Silly Voices"
I like John Lees other work. Perhaps it is the characters he has to portray here. A portentously delivered giggle inducing mixture of dodgy French accents from Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail, Inspector Clouseau's oriental man servant Kato from the Pink Panther films, Evil Russian female bond villains and a touch of 'It Ain't Half Hot Mum'. The giggles pass though and it is not a bad story after all.
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