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)
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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.
I'm a big sci-fi fan, and was hoping I would love this series (of which this is the first book), and could look forward to a lot of good listening ahead. Unfortunately I was very disappointed and couldn't finish this. It's hard for me to judge the book itself, because the narrator is so bad.
1. He gives very little distinctiveness to each character's voice, making it very hard to follow who's talking.
2. There is no pause or any other signal of a change in setting/time/place/etc. This book jumps between very different settings and the reader just reads the text without pause. Combined with the lack of distinction in the voice characterizations, this means that often I will have been listening for 15 min. or more before suddenly realizing that the some major transition took place several paragraphs ago and my mental picture of what's going on is completely wrong. Generally, this means I'm lost most of the time - not a pleasant listening experience.
I'm sorry to say I will not be trying any more of Alastair Reynolds audiobooks because of this.
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.
Story is intriguing with a very exotic and alien world. There are a lot of elements thrown out at you immediately which are difficult to follow without any reference within the world to clarify. I assume one would slowly build up an understanding of this universe except the narration makes it frustrating to follow. The narration is very wooden and blasts right thru scenes with hardly any verbal cues. I found it extremely painful to follow and often didn't realize the story had shifted to a different place or character. Overall the reading was just so poor I didn't want listen any more.
I generally like Alastair Reynolds, but there is zero character development in this book. I could care less about any of them.
No. Weak book and a worse audiobook. Drags on, repeats itself, broken sequencing just for the sake of it.
The reader is too quiet too much of the time. I listen in the car and had to constantly adjust the volume because he moves from mumbling to speaking normally every other sentence. His natural speaking voice isn't bad...but every accent he has sounds like a soft-spoken vampire being forced to speak in a French accent at gunpoint.
Great story in a very interesting universe, but the performance suffered because the producer left no space between sections.
I see others like John Lee's performance but I found it to be the most annoying I've ever experienced. I must follow up that he does improve with the subsequent books. I suspect that he read Redemption Ark after Revelation Space and made Chasm City his third reading. This is because I noticed a great improvement in Chasm City, which I read second and then noticed Redemption Ark was as poor as the first. I'm speaking of his tendency to drop off at the end of every sentence. I listen primarily on the road and found it nearly impossible to follow the story. I'd turn the volume to maximum and have the first of every line blast out but still the end of the sentences were mostly unintelligible. And I've heard much better voice diversity in most other performances. He started the series with only three or four voices and I have yet to hear gender differences. Plus, the lack of pause between sections. He was one or two paragraphs into a section before I realized difference characters were speaking in a completely different environment.
BUT, I do notice great improvement with each subsequent book. I hate criticizing someone who has a talent that I don't have. I am amazed at anyone of the narrators of all audio books as they are mostly gifted speakers. But I've grown used to much better performances.
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.
"Enjoyable and detailed"
The story covers a large arc and getting used to the different time periods took a little while but worth the effort. This is a self contained story but I would like to think the characters will reappear in later books.
Ignore criticism aimed at the narrator, if you pay attention it is clear. Bloody fantastic
Alistair Reynolds is a true master storyteller, never get tired of listening to his works and this is no exception.
Its a bit all over the place for half the book, but just stick with it and it all come nicely together! Its my favourite series now.
Mr Reynolds and John Lee; just stick to the long listen and hardly ever will you be disappointed .
Characters all unlikeable, story meandering and tedious, narration monotonous. I listened to half of it and then gave up.
a good plot line, keeps u wrapped in the book right until the end. have listened twice now. excellent narration, I was able to identify individual characters from their accents.
"Great writing, narrator is fine too"
This is another great story by Alastair Reynolds, in fact I was surprised to learn it was his first published book. It has all the ingredients I like, a convoluted plot, interesting tech ideas and frequent good descriptive writing. However, I can't understand all the bitching about the narrator. Like any field, there are superstars, like Stephen Fry, Toby Longworth and Stephen Briggs and John Lee isn't quite in that league but this is a perfectly good narration.
"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.
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