The most elaborate resolution of the Fermi paradox that I ve ever come across This book is dense with huge concepts that are very difficult to wrap your mind around, and it makes you try over and over again Xenoarchaeology, transhumanism, artificial intelligence, stellar manipulation, black hole manipulation, quantum entanglement, quantum computing, quantum simulation, spacetime fissures, etc All of this plus one of the most complicated and satisfying mysteries in modern science fiction, unfolding in a fully realized universe complete with a billion years of history.I need a fluffy, simple story after finishing this I loved it, but my brain is toast for a while. Three surefire steps to ruin a good story 1 Insert cardboard cutout characters that have the same personality that over analyzing everything they can 2 Include massive 20 minute info dumps every 20 minutes 3 Have your book narrated by Ben Stein the boring teacher in Ferris Bueller s Day Off and The Wonder Years This is literally how this book went very conservative mildly interested voice By George, Sam, I think someone just vaporized Joe, with a trans numatic ray gun Why isn t that strange, I never much liked him anyway, always taking too long in the bathroom, and leaving the toilette seat up 20 minute info dump about the technology behind the gun very conservative mildly interested voice Sally wasn t Joe your husband of 20 years And didn t he discover the Polaris phenomenon, which allowed man to transmigrate his conscience awareness to the ocean of abysmal writing 20 minute info dump containing quasi scientific speculation on transmigration of one s awareness to the ocean of abysmal writing, which is far too vast and complex for human understanding according to the author very conservative mildly interested voice Why yes, I did loved him, he just insisted on having his own ideas about things, and was so cardboard that we won t even notice he s not around any, because we all act just like him Well now that we don t have to worry about him, we can get back to analyzing why airlocks in the spaceship work how they do, all while being shot at by the same person that killed my husband Good job, when it comes to amazing ideas, terribly executed, this book ranks right up there with Brent Weeks Night Angel. I very much enjoyed this book, butthan that, I greatly respected the work that Reynolds did and was awestruck by his accomplishment.This is a phenomenal book in many ways.Reynolds, a Welsh PhD astronomer and member of the European Space Agency, has some Sheldon Cooper street cred right out of the gates and he delivers with some seriously high brow SF tooling that left this knuckle dragging reviewer scratching his pate and just being impressed You don t say, Dr Reynolds aside what did he say So this is about a future society where humans are out in the stars and a sizeable population of the erstwhile tree huggers are hugging a section of the galaxy around Yellowstone This is the Revelation Space universe and it is about as detailed as a Bosch painting and almost as dark.That s, to me at least, the great draw of Reynolds narrative prose NOT dystopian gag me with a slide rule but not Heinleinesque peachy neither This describes our sweaty future selves living and dying in the future, butor less human nature does not change and we are carrying on as always in our cynical and self destructive ways.And there are aliens.Reynolds aliens are the Bradbury Martian types, with civilizations long gone and thoroughly misunderstood Or are they With mysterious goings on that reminded me of Clarke s Rendezvous with Rama and Silverberg s The Man in the Maze, this also had elements of horror that further complicated Reynolds already richly complex palette.There are intertwined sub plots, downloaded consciousnesses, cyber plagues, cyborgs, sentient space ships, far future assassins, antimatter bombs, and enough Matrix like cyber stuff to make me retreat to the relative safety of 30s pulp.Space opera is not really a sub genre to which I am inclined and I my interest did wane some at the lengthy melodramatic discourses, but the ideas and the science behind it all were eye opening and mesmerizing.This started the Revelation Space universe with other novels and short stories filling in the gaps and adding Cooperesque Bazingas aplenty.Well done, Dr Reynolds, well done. There is no getting away from Alastair Reynolds In the sf book discussion forums I participate in Reddit his name is always cropping up I keep putting him off as I have too many books on my list, but the relentless mentions he gets is like he is tapping on my shoulder saying When are you gonna read my stuff Like a lot of space opera this one is epic in scale, races and planets live and die at the drop of a hat What makes Revelation Space special is the author s vast imagination, the scientific details and story telling skills What let him down a little bit is the somewhat flat characters Initially, I felt like the characters are pancake shaped things pushing the story towards its conclusion A few of them do develop into fairly interesting people later on, but the female protagonists tend to be of the tough as nails Ellen Riply type Generally characters development is not a strong point of this book.More successful is the depiction of AI and aliens I love the fascinating speculation on the nature of consciousness, and what constitute sentience The concept of Alpha, Beta, Gamma classes of AI is ingenious In fact, the AI characters tend to beinteresting than the human ones for me The aliens makeof a cameo appearance, but their strange history and mystery surrounding them kind of Cthulhu esque is very interesting The aliens are satisfyingly alien, so damn alien that people need to have their brains modified just to communicate meaningfully with them, and I also love it when zones of reality, space and time get all bendy and weird.The prose style is functional and readable if a little prosaic, for a story of this scope there is surprisingly few characters points of view, which makes the complex story easier to follow Initially I was concerned about the absence of humor, moments of levity is always good to balance the mood of the novel, fortunately, Mr Reynolds sneaked some humorous moments in later, especially with some snarky AI comments.This is a worthwhile read and I am interested to readof Alastair Reynolds in the near future within this epoch. Update In August 2013 I read Redemption Ark the direct sequel to Revelation Space It is massively better than Revelation Space, and it makes trudging through the dull bits of Revelation Space entirely worthwhile Also worth mentioning is Chasm City which is set in the Revelation Space universe but is a standalone novel Again, it is a tremendous read and highly recommended.Update October 3, 2015I finally read Absolution Gap, the last volume of the Revelation Space trilogy, it is also very good, but Redemption Ark is the best of the three books.The best Alastair Reynolds novel is IMO the standalone House of Suns. My preferred genre is fantasy and theepic the better for me Shoot, thevolumes the better okay, I draw the line at some point But at the same time, I like variety I m the type of person who tries everything on the menu at a restaurant not at the same time of course This doesn t change when it comes to my reading preferences I don t stray too far from genre, but there s lots of variation from fantasy to science fiction, steampunk to urban fantasy, elfpunk, space opera, scifi fantasy hybrids, etc While I have been reading a lot of fantasy lately, it was high time I jumped into some science fiction.I know, that was way too much of an intro for something so pointless At the same time, I think people like a personal touch, I know I do You be the judge.I ve had Revelation Space on my radar for a long time Reynolds and Hamilton are the two big go to names for space opera and until now I hadn t read either of them Reynolds may possibly be knownfor being hard sci fi, but to be honest, I barely know the difference Sad, I know, especially with how much I just learned I ve been missing out on In earth s distant future, the galaxy is full of different factions of humanity, the Stoners, the Ultras, and the Conjoiners among them There are alien races such as the Jugglers and the Shrouders.Dan Sylveste is a Stoner who is on an archaeological dig on the planet Resurgam where they have found artifacts belonging to an ancient alien civilization, the Amarantins Something caused their distruction, termed The Event, and Sylveste is willing to do what it takes to find out, he is one of a smaller faction who believes understanding The Event is absolutely necessary to prevent it from happening to humanity as well.At the same time, the crew of the Nostalgia for Infinity enter the picture The Nostalgia is a lighthugger vessel, kilometers long, full of all manner of technology, weapons, agriculture, and with the ability to almost reach the speed of light due to its Conjoiner engines Volyova is the weapons officer in need of a new gunnery officer since she had to kill the last one who went insane Then comes Khouri, and this is the part that really got me sucked in Due to a clerical mistake, she was sent to another system, lightyears away from her husband, after the war on Sky s Edge Any chance of coming together puts one of the pair 40 years older at best.While the timeline is vast and the distances lightyear spanning, the story really only centers around a few characters, or rather groups of characters There s Sylveste and the various peoples he associates with mostly unwillingly and then there s Volyova and her crew Khouri is at first a third party, but quickly jumps in with the lighthugger crew.I d like to say I could begin to describe the technologies and peoples and interconnectedness of the whole thing, but I just can t get close The technology is very believable, even to the point that you can see it as a logical development Hence why this is known as hard sci fi, I guess The factions of humanity is also completely believable, from those who love all the gadgetry and implant it all over themselves Ultras , to those who enhance their minds so much with machinery that they reach enlightenment Conjoiners.At times I was purely in awe of Reynolds imagination I could see the neutron stars or not see them , the wonder was just captivating, it was like being in space in my mind I loved that we re dealing with kilometer long ships that have machines that can manufacture anything you need, guns, ship parts, etc in a matter of seconds.At the same time, it can be slow going at times and I think that s the reason I can t quite go to five stars on this one It s a great read and one I would definitely recommend, but I think I was expectingafter this long of a wait nothing of which Reynolds could do anything about of course I know, manage expectations, but I ve been building up to this one for years The fact that it didn t completely disappoint is actually pretty impressive if you think about it.I also think the limited characters actually tended to diminish the vastness of the story With only so few being the focus, it was hard to really think of this as a story with heavy implications for humanity It felt too closed off, too intimate for anything to really be at stake.At the same time, the plotting was quite exceptional, tying in almost everything that s introduced throughout the novel As you can see from this review, I haven t even begun to discuss it Chalk that up to a combination of laziness and honest incapacity While I had a few reservations, I will definitely be readingfrom Reynolds, I already own Chasm Cityof a prequel , so that will probably be next before I finish this trilogy I m happy to have finally read this king of space opera hard sci fi depending on who you talk to and I feel like I can finally enter the club, almost Reynolds is a king of this genre for a reason, his imagination is vast and his characters compelling4 out of 5 Stars Highly Recommended This is the book that made me fall in love with science fiction again I read a lot of SF in the 90s, but the genre had fallen off my radar until I picked this up and kicked off a sci fi binge that I m still on nearly a decade later Revelation Space is Space Opera of the grandest style, filled with high drama and soaring narrative arias Like a number of SF works Reynolds book deals with the Fermi paradox the strange lack of other intelligent life in the universe, or at least other intelligent life that we can detect see Cixin Liu s Dark Forest and Adam Roberts the thing Itself for other examples of books based Fermi s concept Reynolds explores this question in a pretty epic manner this is the first book in a series of four all of which are pretty damn good.Scientist Dan Sylveste, a driven, arrogant man, is investigating the remnants of an alien civilization on the planet Resurgam, a civilization that appears to have suddenly disappeared many millennia prior While Sylveste works the lighthugger a near lightspeed starship Nostalgia for Infinity approaches Resurgam, its menacing crew seeking Silveste s help while the secrets within the vessel s mile long bulk threaten to spill out with devastating effect.What Sylveste discovers on Resurgam will illuminate the reasons behind the strange absence of intelligent life in the galaxy and set in motion one of the most interesting Science Fiction series in the genre.Even ten years after reading this many of Revelation Space s amazing set pieces and concepts are still vivid in my mind Mile long lighthugger ships cross the interstellar desert at a hair under lightspeed, their crews living for centuries of subjective planetary time while their vessels spend years between colonies Weapons that can split worlds Nanotech plagues that render the microscopic tech a near death sentence for its users A neutron star that has been turned into an inestimably powerful computer.Reynolds is a natural, and he spins a damn fine high stakes narrative in a galactic society that has fallen below its technological high water mark at the same time that it faces its greatest challenge If you re an SF fan and you haven t read Revelation Space or the even better Chasm City put down what you re doing and order a copy You won t regret it, and you ll be starting a journey that in my opinion is one of the best multi book stories in SF, up there with Dan Simmons Hyperion. Update and minor editOK, so I can confirm now that the Revelation Space series is one of the favouritest favourites.Delayed ReviewI read Revelation Space back when the Rust Belt was still the Glitter Band ho ho However, I recall enough to know that it is brilliant stuff I m sticking to the five star rating I gave it at the time In fact, this book is also on my Favourites shelf, and there it shall remain I really enjoyed the dark and gothic vibe of Revelation Space, which, by the way, is exploited just as magnificently in the other related novels, such as Chasm City I also liked the apparently unrelated plots, separated quite literally by time and space, which eventually interwove and culminated as a single thread I m a bit of a sucker for xeno archaelogical mysteries and artifacts in Science Fiction, so these aspects of the novel, in particular, appealed to me.Reynolds held me in thrall with his vision I devoured all the sequels and prequels that were subsequently published The mixed reviews here indicate that not everybody shared that sentiment, but I owe a debt of gratitude to the author for introducing me to the harder and edgier variety of Science Fiction, where the lines between Hard SF and Space Opera become a bit blurred This was also the book, apart from Larry Niven s Ringworld, that really kick started my fondness for big idea SF Nostalgia for Infinity The Nostalgia for Infinity garners a special mention a massive ship that used to carry hundreds of thousands of crew and passengers, now only crewed by a handful of genetically modified humans The endless corridors on this cathedral like vessel evoked all kinds of imagery of desolation, loneliness and outright creepiness Fermi Paradox I don t want to go into this, since it is spoiler territory, but the Wolves Inhibitors were rather scary It s a frightening concept, no The last word Atmosphere Revelation Space takes place in the 26th century, when humans have achieved space travel and can journey vast distances in lighthugger ships that fly at almost the speed of light.The story opens on the planet Resurgam, which was inhabited by the Amarantin civilization until nine hundred thousand years ago At that time, just when the Amarantin were about to attain space flight, a catastrophe wiped out the entire race Now, small human settlements populate Resurgam, one of which is led by Dan Sylveste an archaeologist obsessed with studying the Amarantin and what happened to them Dan Sylveste is famous for being one of only a few humans who have visited two mysterious alien worlds the Pattern Jugglers an obscure oceanic race that can imprint information on the brains of visitors and the Shrouders hidden beings who guard the most dangerous devices in the galaxy In fact, Dan is the only human who ever returned alive from a trip to the Shrouders Dan is also well known for being the son of the brilliant deceased scientist, Calvin Sylveste The thing is, though Calvin is dead, Dan can still see him and talk to him Calvin s neural patterns have been saved and Dan can call up his father s image which usually shows up reclining in a comfortable chair when he needs to consult with the great man.While Dan is going about his business voluntarily and involuntarily on Resurgam, a decrepit lighthugger called Nostalgia for Infinity which has lost almost everyone onboard is trawling the galaxy looking for the archaeologist The spaceship is infected with the Melding Plague, a nanotech virus that attacks both organic and inorganic substances The Plague which has badly damaged the ship also infected the Nostalgia s skipper, Captain Brannigan, while he was in reefersleep suspended animation The unfortunate Brannigan is now a grotesque being who s expanding, mutating, and merging with the spaceship Dan Sylveste once came aboard the Nostalgia to treat the Captain with dead Calvin s help..and the crew wants the archaeologist to help Brannigan once again Meanwhile, the Captain is being kept at a temperature of absolute zero to retard the spread of the virus.The Nostalgia s leading crew members are a Triumverate consisting of Volyova a female munitions expert who controls a ginormous cache of weapons that ranges from guns to star destroyers Sajaki the defacto captain of the ship and Hegazi Sajaki s yes man Sajaki and Hegazi are extreme Ultras humans who have been exponentially enhanced with technological implants and bionic devices The ship also carries a myriad of robotic servitors including janitor rats that function as auxiliary help The last major character in the story is a woman named Khouri Khouri is a former soldier who was accidently transported to the planet Yellowstone while she was in reefersleep On Yellowstone, Khouri became an assassin in a kind of Westworld game Bored rich people looking for excitement could arrange for an assassin to hunt them down while they tried to evade the killer But if Khouri is the assigned assassin, the patron is a dead duck because Khouri never fails Thus, Khouri attracts the attention of a woman called Mademoiseille, who hires extorts Khouri to kill Dan Mademoiselle alleges that the future of humankind depends on Dan s death As the story plays out Khouri eventually gets on board the Nostalgia which is also searching for Dan And that s all I can say without spoilers Other characters in the story include Resurgam residents who want to thwart Dan s research into the Amarantin a journalist who s compiling Dan s biography a Nostalgia gunnery officer who goes completely insane a wily cyber being with an agenda Dan s deceased wife andThe book is almost 600 pages long, and there s plenty of techno speak that describes planets, stars, spaceships, shuttles, weapons, bionic devices, alien races, alien artifacts, space time, objective time, subjective time, alpha and beta copies of dead people, sophisticated spacesuits, esoteric discoveries, etc The book also has a number of sub plots some exciting shootouts plenty of twists, turns, and surprises and an innovative and compelling climax.The author tends to be a bit verbose and over descriptive at times, which slows down the story and I occasionally had to resist skimming Overall though, I enjoyed the book, which is imaginative and well written Highly recommended to science fiction fans.You can follow my reviews at 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 Irrecoverably Altered 2.5 STARS that I cannot round up to 3.I like long books After a while, there s a sense of familiarity that comes from having been immersed in a world, a situation, a set of characters, that is very soothing However, I do need decent characters to latch on to for maximum enjoyment.At 600 plus pages, Revelation Space is a comfortably long first novel in a trilogy It is set in a dark, entropic universe, where the human race has populated or at least surveyed much of the galaxy, but seems to have past its prime, and everything is slowly falling apart political factions civil unrest, a plague that infects technology itself, the trials of being stranded on a planet with no way out A well constructed, gloomy universe, with much room for exploration.Unfortunately, the characters themselves leave much to be desired I could not, for the life of me, get a grasp on their degree of humanity The main problem is this there is not a clear and consistent moral outlook in this universe Characters are described schizophrenically as bad ass future space farers who, in their centuries of life, have seen and participated in much routine violence destruction, yet in the next paragraph experience horror and remorse at comparatively minor atrocities they must do by logic or circumstances without any kind of justification for merging these two facets together to form cohesive human beings.For example, one main character spends decades traveling through the cosmos seeking to cure her Captain from a disgusting plague, yet barely cares whether her fellow space crew along whose side she had worked and lived for decades are alive or dead A few words to explain why she can be so loyal to a Captain who has been cryogenically frozen for years yet sociopathic to her co workers would do much to make her into a living, breathing, contradictory human being As it were, she is a collection of traits obsessions that does not come together to form a whole.And this is the case for most of the characters This, and the frantic, unnecessary shifts of perspective to create artificial cliff hangers, killed much of my enjoyment.Finally, I wouldn t really call this space opera it lacks the sweep of destiny, the giant emotionality, the sheer number of people and time that is implicit in the genre This is a story about a couple of people, often trapped inside their own heads, over a couple decades a few light years, converging into a single incident that may, theoretically, impact humanityA good first novel, but I am hoping the next books in the series will be much improved.