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Publisher's Summary

Nine hundred thousand years ago, something annihilated the Amarantin civilization just as it was on the verge of discovering space flight. Now one scientist, Dan Sylveste, will stop at nothing to solve the Amarantin riddle before ancient history repeats itself.

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,221
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    1,129
  • 3 Stars
    615
  • 2 Stars
    237
  • 1 Stars
    128

Performance

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    782
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    386
  • 2 Stars
    156
  • 1 Stars
    121

Story

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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  • 1 Stars
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Nearly defeated me

What disappointed you about Revelation Space?

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.

How could the performance have been better?

Revise and edit the story for clarity. Have the narrator indicate when storyline changes. In other words, insert chapters where there are none.

What character would you cut from Revelation Space?

None

Any additional comments?

A truly epic story, ruined by failure to edit for clarity and poor narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Nastalgia for Infinity

What did you love best about Revelation Space?

The world building. Reynolds gives a good feel for the Revelation Space universe while not diverting from an entertaining plot.

What did you like best about this story?

I like the convergence of the characters' stories. They initially seemed quite unconnected.

Which scene was your favorite?

The little skirmish on the surface of Resurgam with Khouri and Volyova

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Reynolds is yet to make me cry, but this book has a lot of suspense and excitement.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An epic tale spoiled by unlikable characters

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Compendium of Technological Marvels

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Good but flawed.

What did you like best about Revelation Space? What did you like least?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

The explanation for the state of the galaxy was an intriguing one and something I'd not heard before.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

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.

Do you think Revelation Space needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Pretty sure it has one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very little appeal, sorry, but no.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Horrible... I could not finish it.

Would you try another book from Alastair Reynolds and/or John Lee?

Yes

What do you think your next listen will be?

Not sure.. I love Doomsday books

What didn’t you like about John Lee’s performance?

I love John Lee in other books but this one is Bone Dry!

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment

Any additional comments?

I could not get past the first 4 hours.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Either Way, It's a good book

I'm not sure if this is a good book because of Reynolds' writing, or if it's a good book because John Lee is narrating... but either way, it's a good book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Narrated like reading a History book!

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Emanuel
  • Zion, IL, United States
  • 05-10-12

Boring!

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-02-17

I'm sure it's a great story but...

the narration jumps between linked storiez without so much as a breath. this has the effect of not knowing which story/timeline you're actually listening to and a sense of total confusion ensues... had to stop listening as I really didn't know where or what was going on.

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  • A Gurney
  • 06-28-17

Pauses, what are they?

Interesting story, but the narrator really doesn't help with keeping things clear as to what is going on.

With regards to characters, he can do different accents, but quite often a conversation will be between characters who share the same accent and with very little attempt to differentiate between them (even when it's a man and a woman talking, they often sound exactly the same) it's incredibly confusing until you become used to what you're hearing and realise you have to put a considerable amount of effort in.

The narrator also has a serious problem with run-on, although he's not fast reader, completely failing to leave pauses not just where they might be appropriate but even where they are absolutely necessary. A lot of authors, nowadays, will often have chapter changes each time there's a scene change; this story contains numerous scene changes throughout each chapter, you would expect a brief pause at each change, but the narrator often makes it seem like there hasn't even been the end of a sentence. You suddenly realise that not only is it different characters (see the previous problem) but you're now on a completely different planet, or even a spaceship.

Pauses are your friend...

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  • C and/or A
  • 02-27-17

Can't Bring Myself to Finish

Can't Bring Myself to Finish the book. Most mundane of mercenary mili-porn. Reader glib in different accents, though recording director's choices are horribly clichéd; Russian for baddy, etc. A wasted credit - sigh.

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  • C. J. Watterson
  • 02-26-17

Poor recording

The audio see-saws in volume with the narration frequently trailing off as a sentence comes to a close. Can't really say how the story is, I couldn't continue listening.

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  • Ashley
  • 02-21-17

great story

despite the warnings of poor narration I got this audiobook anyway it was very hard work to listen to but I did get used to it about half way through the story was so good it was worth the effort.

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  • Leon
  • 01-17-17

Love this author, story arc slow to gain momentum

Complex threads with a real sense of an epic storyscape.

Am starting book 2 now!

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  • stephen carrigg
  • 01-11-17

great book !!

really enjoyed this book , if you like sci fi give it a try !

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  • Miss DePlume
  • 12-20-16

When Am I? What is going on?

What disappointed you about Revelation Space?

Got this on a recommendation from my husband, who is a huge Alastair Reynolds fan. But so help me God I just cannot follow this plot. It jumps back and forth and there are so many Russian and French-type accents, I never know who is talking and when. I told myself if I just stuck with it it would start to congeal in my mind, but I guess I am not smart enough or dedicated enough to make sense of this. I cheated and read the Wikipedia page about it, which helped a lot - but I still haven't finished the story.

What was most disappointing about Alastair Reynolds’s story?

Maybe this story is a little easier to follow on the printed page, because I struggled to keep up with the jumping timeline in audiobook form.

Would you listen to another book narrated by John Lee?

Sure, though preferably with fewer Russian accents.

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  • Anthony Cosgrove
  • 12-15-16

excellent book

very hard to follow due to the performance, skipping between characters and places with zero change in tone, it meant I thought one character was talking before getting confused, realizing it was someone different then trying to figure out who and follow the story, or having to skip back multiple times, BUT I stuck with it and I'm glad I did, great story with great characters

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  • Edmund
  • 10-28-16

Poor narration kills it stone dead

I tried to get past it. The poor monotone drone of the narrator. Even 8 hours in I was still pushing myself to go on when I realised that this was a pointless exercise.

I'm a list cause. Save yourself.