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)
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.
Not sure.. I love Doomsday books
I love John Lee in other books but this one is Bone Dry!
I could not get past the first 4 hours.
I couldn't wait to listen to all the books.
But after a little while by this Narrator I just couldn't take it. I'm sure the story line must be OK, but it was narrated like a dull history class! They should screen narrators to make sure they can tell a story not just read it.
Well, thats just my opinion. It felt like I was watching(Listening) a foreign movie. Felt like the writer wanted to make sure that you know that he was a well read and intelligent individual and he probably is but it made for a trying story that was easy to get confused with.
Anybody who really gets a kick out of being thoroughly confused.
I really couldn't tell. The narrator decided that since everybody had foreign sounding names, that they should all have accents which made deciphering their speech give me a headache.
I'd sooner cut off my toes with a boltcutter. His fake French accent for everyone with a French last name was horrendous. His fake Russian accent was worse. Then when a French character spoke to a Russian character he lost all distinction between them and it sounded like an insane person with a speech impediment arguing with himself.
If they ever re-do this book with a different narrator, I'd get it again. As it stands, I had to turn it off after 2 hours.
I might as well have thrown my money in a toilet, because that's the same amount of enjoyment I got out of his performance.
I wouldn't cut any. I need 15 words. 15 words.
In addition to the horrifying accents, there was no pause or break between scenes. A scene on a spaceship blended seamlessly into a scene on a planet leaving the listener completely lost. Mr. Lee's uninflected deadpan narration moved so hurriedly from scene to scene that it was like trying to read a technical manual with pages removed and replaced with pages from The Joy Of Sex. Both instructional, both manuals, but you'll never get the whole picture from either.
Tell Mr.Lee to go back to waiting tables.
a Tech Exec who loves the stories about what could be and what should have been. Mixed with histories told from an outside perspective.
This book is a mixed bag for interest. It starts out like the Martian Chronicles, has a bit of Blade Runner in the middle, and ends with a storyline straight out of the Matrix.
This is not my first Alastair Reynolds I am sure I will
The Narrator does a pretty good job dealing with several accents to add depth to some of the characters, I am not sure if it has been remastered or if some listeners are simply not thrilled with a blend of accents. But, to me it added to the listening.
This book, and subsequent series could easily be a lost type series, as there is plenty of characters and setting to make for an interesting view. I am not sure a movie could contain enough detail to do the book justice.
"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.
"Dreadful narration ruins the book."
Narration was so poor that I had to give up listening and return this one. Didn't get a chance to reach any conclusion about the story itself.
The narrator has some extremely irritating habits. Each sentence is started loudly, and then gradually fades in volume as it approaches the end; I found it almost impossible to find a comfortable listening volume where I could still hear the whole sentence.
The narrator also seems to have very little range; one 'foreign' accent gets used for a vast range of characters, sometimes on both sides of a conversation, so it becomes impossible to discern which character is speaking.
A further issue, which may be editing rather than narration, is that there is often no break between different chapters or settings. The narration runs seamlessly from one to the next as if it is all part of the same sentence - it may be several lines before you realise that the setting or the character has changed.
I will never know, because the problems with the narration became so distracting that I couldn't listen to it.
The narration quality on the Audible audiobooks inevitably varies greatly, and some narrators are better than others. On the whole, I expect and can live with that, but this particular example probably needs to be withdrawn from sale.
"marred by weak narration"
It's a good yarn, takes a while to get going. It's badly let down by the narration. See my full review below.
Up until the mid-point, it's all a bit disjointed. The sweet spot is from about 50% to 95%, where the story moves along nicely, all the protagonists have come together, and it's a fine action yarn. The last 5% was a let down.
monotonous, hurried, limited
Well, I managed to avoid the DNF on this one, and indeed managed to get back to a point where I rather enjoyed the ride.
I had a couple of possible outcomes for the novel. One in which all the villains and minor characters die, and all the major protagonists survive. The other in which some of the villains get their comeuppance, but by no means all, and in which at least one major character dies, probably saving humanity as far as that is possible. And that's properly dies - none of this reincarnation as an AI nonsense. If I'd been reading Iain M Banks, I wouldn't have bet on either outcome over the other.
I'll avoid the spoiler. Suffice to say I wasn't entirely pleased with Alastair Reynolds' rabbits and hats.
Faults first, and those specific to the audiobook - the narrator (John Lee) is poor.
The emphasis is practically identical for every sentence - he starts forte then fades to a mezzo piano, almost piano by the end.
His range of accents is frustratingly small. He has one French accent, which he uses for every inhabitant of one world, regardless of age or gender. The starship crew get a hybrid Russian/Japanese accent, which is somewhat erratic.
His pauses as he switches between the starship and one or other of the two planets are too short to be worthy of the name. Too many times I find myself a paragraph or two into a new scene before I realise there's been a change, and I have to work out where I am and who is now on stage. Mental rewind - no, missed it. Bah!
"Quadrant 5" - really? Is it no longer a requirement for authors to understand the etymology of the words they use?
Too much repetition, too many infodumps (sometimes the same infodump repeated for the benefit of a new character who didn't hear the first one).
The alpha copy of Dan Sylveste - a plot point that wasn't, at least not in this book. A red herring?
The computer security was inconsistent - lax or strong as the plot needed it.
Sunstealer's potency or impotency was likewise variable, according to the needs of the plot.
A surprising level of empathy built up with Volyova over time. Likewise Khouri.
The descriptions of the light-hugger ship - like the Nostromo, but with intelligent rats, a rotting infrastructure and sludge/slime. However it is not explained how the rats survive the acceleration that kills a rogue crewmember. Nor what happens to all that liquid under the same acceleration.
Still, it is a good adventure, though the ending is just too pat. The audiobook is harder work than it needs to be.
"Jumpy to start Good once it gets going"
Initialy I thought I'd made a big error on this one, it starts by bouncing about through multiple related plot lines, It may have made more sense in the book but in audio I found myself going hu!, only to realise the narator had switch between the set up lines.
Once they come together its a really good book but it takes a few hours to do so.
"Epic hard sci-fi"
This is one of my favourite books. Reynolds has a real physics background, and his comfort with unthinkable scale and relatavistic distances. The plot is constructed like a steel trap, with massive stakes, and strong, memorable characters. If Christopher Nolan did a pure space opera, it would end up being like this. The characters are all brilliant, ruthless, terrifying competent types, which I love, but others might not. It's hardcore sci-fi though, so it's more like Greg Bear or Greg Egan than Isaac Asimov or Larry Niven.
John Lee does a competent enough job of the narration, but it's clear that he doesn't really understand what he's saying. He has a tendency to make all the characters sound like louche French philosophers drinking Pernod in a Parisian cafe circa 1913, even the Middle Eastern soldier Khouri and Russian engineer Volyova. Also, he uses the American pronunciation of words like process (with a short o) which seemed odd.
I also question the decision for a man to be the narrator. There are more important female than male characters here (Volyova, Khouri, The Madamoiselle, Pascale, Sluka, Sudjic etc.), and on balance I think I'd have preferred an actress.
This kvetching aside, he wasn't distracting or anything, so it's still a worthwhile purchase if the subject matter is your thing.
"Worthwhile in the end."
John Lee's narration starts out with a peculiarly jarring rhythmic structure, I must have listened to the first hour of this book half a dozen times before I got into it. However, by the end of part one I was hooked; the rhythm had become more natural and my ear attuned to the subtleties of the character's accents. An interesting story and the first Alastair Reynolds I have 'read', the narrator will not dissuade me from future listens, but neither will I be rushing to find other books that he has read.
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