Re: Revelation Space

With this year’s Boskone coming up soon, it’s about time that I got around to reading something by last year’s Boskone Guest of Honor, Alastair Reynolds.  Revelation Space seemed like a good book to read to find out whether I regret not being in the long line of people who wanted him to sign their books. Well, I think I understand why so many fans were in that line.

The book is a big space opera complete with multiple planets, ancient intelligences, tackling the Fermi paradox with galactic war (a two-fer!), mechanized people, intelligent machinery, modified animals, nanotech plagues, viral therapies, etc, etc.  Totally an Idea Book. There were so many ideas, I found myself wondering if I could come up with all that stuff to put into a book. It’s also nice to see a space opera that respects the speed of light and stays within the bounds of subluminal space travel.

The plot, or plots, were so convoluted, I’m not even going to try to summarize them. I did admire the way three apparently unrelated threads came together at the end in a satisfying manner. It’s just that getting to the end was a bit of a slog. Around page 300 I started flipping ahead, wondering why exactly this book needed to be so long. The writing was at its best in descriptions, with lots of bleak scenery and run-down habitats. I didn’t like any of the main characters. There were also passages when the dialogue read like the characters were explaining how they felt to each other, rather than conversing.

So if you like grand scale, big ideas, scheming characters, and hidden motivations, you’ll probably like this book. But me, well, I don’t feel any great desire to get in that line.