Thursday, November 29, 2012

Revelation Space

I have bags under my eyes because of this book.  Revelation Space, written by Alastair Reynolds, has kept me up for many night now.  It's the story of, well, a lot of things.  There is no one protagonist.  Exactly who is 'good' and who is 'bad' is hard to tell sometimes.  Reynolds has a tendency of pulling the wool over your eyes with glorious mind fucks that make you laugh or groan or just sit there and think deeply for a bit.

There is a lot of exposition in the book.  A lot.  Exposition can ruin a book and make is a boring, lifeless hunk of pulp.  But Reynolds is so good at exposition, it makes the novel.

There is a story.  Actually, a really good one.  It takes place over decades of time with multiple viewpoint characters.  That type of storytelling can get confused and jumbled in the wrong hands, but Reynolds pulls it off very well.  It's kind of hard to regurgitate understandably to someone, else, though.

 In fact, rather than try to sum up a plot or something, it would probably do better to just describe some things in the book:
  • A dead alien planet settled by an entire city of archaeologists.
  • A kilometer long, slower than light spacecraft with a technological biology all its own.
  • A nanitic plague that takes over technological and biological processes.
  • Aliens wrapped in cocoons of space-time.
  • Ancient technologies beyond imagining.
  • Lovecraftian horrors and insanity.
  • Cities mutating beyond control.
  • Brain hijacking.
  • A planet that is not a planet.
  • An assassin, and astronaut, and a novelist walk into a baroque spider, and two get drunk.
And beautiful, beautiful terms that have found homes in my brain:
  • Resurgam
  • Amarantin
  • Melding Plague
  • Conjoiners, Demarchists, and Ultras
  • Triumvirs Volyova, Sajaki, and Hegazi
  • Pattern Jugglers, Inhibitors,  and Shrouders
  • Nostalgia for Infinity
  • Sunstealer
  • Warchive
  • Lighthuggers

I soooo want to take the ideas from this book and fashion a game setting.  Actually, I've been sprinkling the Redshirts games liberally with some of them.  But Reynolds has written quite a few books in this same setting - I need to go digest those as well.

So yeah, I recommend the book highly. :)

- Ark


  1. I read this when it first came out and loved it as much as you. I have enjoyed the other novels set in the same universe although the ending to Absolution Gap was not 100% satisfactory. That said, given what we know at that point its finality might not be so final.

    I cannot think of a STL only sci-fi universe as well thought out or that takes as much advantage of the STL as Reynolds.

    1. Endings are so hard to pull off to everyone's satisfaction. I mean, if you weren't in the right frame of mind, the end of Revelation Space might just make you toss the book out the window. :)

      I will definitely give Absolution Gap. a try, though.

      I know what you mean by the STL. Previously, I had always marked it off the list of my things that I wanted in my sci-fi universes, but wow, Reynolds made it so appealing that I can see real viable ways to make it work in an rpg.

      - Ark