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Revelation Space (Revelation Space #1)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  24,842 ratings  ·  1,066 reviews
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 starshi ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 585 pages
Published May 28th 2002 by Ace Books (first published 2000)
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Ready Player One by Ernest ClineOld Man's War by John ScalziThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsAnathem by Neal StephensonAltered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Best Science Fiction of the 21st Century
9th out of 367 books — 3,476 voters
Old Man's War by John ScalziStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinPandora's Star by Peter F. HamiltonRevelation Space by Alastair ReynoldsOn Basilisk Station by David Weber
Excellent Space Opera
4th out of 291 books — 1,700 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
i suppose you could call Alastair Reynolds the Bad Twin of Peter Hamilton. both write space operas that come complete with mind-boggling concepts, galaxy-spanning adventures, bizarre aliens, space politics, love stories, and eons-old mysteries. but Hamilton writes about a future that despite having its ups, downs, and various inequities, is mainly Bright & Shiny, full of possibility. on the other hand, Reynolds' interests arise from the basic idea that the universe is a cold, scary place, fu ...more
My preferred genre is fantasy and the more epic the better for me. Shoot, the more volumes 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-f
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 scient
Dirk Grobbelaar
Delayed Review

OK. I read Revelation Space back when the Rust Belt was still the Glitter Band (ho ho) so, again, I have to reserve some judgement regarding the literary aspects of the novel. Although, if memory serves, I seem to recall that it was actually written quite well.

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 ex
David Sven
This is a lot how I imagine Peter F Hamilton would read like if he never got sidetracked and had a manageable number of story arcs, with half the word count. Alistair Reynolds delivers a ripper that is part space opera part cyberpunk and a touch of horror. I’m guessing this is what you would call “hard scifi” – I’m not too sure because it lacks the poor and often cartoony characterization and bland prose style that has been my normal(though limited) experience with hard scifi – Yeah, I’m looking ...more
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
Andrew Obrigewitsch
Three surefire steps to ruin a good story:

1. Insert cardboard cutout characters that have the same personality 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 strang
Does Reynolds get a lot of inspiration from films? Chasm City's Mulch is reminiscent of Blade Runner. John Brannigan's Nostalgia for Infinity ends up looking like the Alien queen did the decor. Eraserheads delete back-ups (of your mind). Reynolds openly admits that much of the inspiration for his finest work, Diamond Dogs, comes from gorno movies.

Some writers slowly develop into good novelists over a span of several, even a dozen, books. Others burst into print with a debut novel that shows a fu
(Review from Mar 08, 2011, which had somehow ended up as a comment, rather than a review.)

An epic "hard" sci-fi space opera (so my son tells me), with links to some of Reynolds' other novels, but which works well as a standalone book too.

It opens with three separate storylines, which gradually come together: Dan Sylveste, an archaeologist, researching the extinct Amarantin of the planet Resurgam; a spaceship crewed by ultras, with a sick captain in reefersleep and the triumvirate jostling for po
I used to read a lot more science fiction 20 years ago than I do now, but I've had this on my shelves for a while and the other Reynolds I read was ok. Reynolds is an Astrophysicist and clealry knows his stuff. This is the first of a trilogy and is on a grand scale, what is termed space opera, I suppose. The plot is complex with a number of narrative strands and focuses on why there appear to be few extant spacefaring civilisations and many more civilisations that appear to have ended/been destr ...more
I debated whether to write a review of Revelation Space on its own or wait until I finished the Revelation Space trilogy and write a single review of the whole story. This is a debate that goes on in my head any time I read a multi-book series and I haven't established a blanket policy one way or the other. For me, it depends.

Take, for example, Dan Simmons' Ilium and Olympos . They are really one book that was split arbitrarily because it was too long to publish in a single volume. Think LotR
Three and a half stars, rounded up for the excellent final stretch and the fertile imagination exhibited throughout. Reynolds also proves himself a quality penman. However, the characterization—as so often seems to be the case in this genre—has room for improvement, to say the least, while the selectiveness and inconsistency of those character's morality and actions, untethered as they may become within a subluminal civilizational archipelago amidst an unbounded cosmic ocean, nagged and nibbled ...more
4.5 stars. I really struggled with whether to give this a 4 or 5 star rating. On the 5 star side (or even the 6 star side as I give those books I think are truly special) the ideas, concepts, technology, world-building (or better stated, galactic civilization building) and descriptions of the various factions of humanity are amazingly original and incredibly entertaining. Put simply, there are a lot of "WOW" moments where I said "this guy is brilliant."

Also on the level of a 5 star novel is the
One day the world will be full of science fiction authors whose prose styles are as good as their imaginations. Yeah, there are a few. But on the evidence of this book, Alastair Reynolds isn't one of them.

What this novel does have going for it is a great theory of how the galaxy might look in 500 years' time. The picture painted here – of a lonely universe, full of space and mysteries and still limited by barriers like the speed of light – feels distinctly plausible and, presumably, owes a lot t
Aug 27, 2007 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of intelligent horror and scifi
If your fan of the wing of scifi represented in the mainstream by movies like Ridley Scott's Alien and John Carpenter's The Thing(or more recently Danny Boyles'Sunshine)than this book will be endless entertainment for for you. Barely human nightmare show characters you wouldn't want to be in a dark alley with, discovering a universe filled with lovecraftian horror. Similiar to Delany's Nova and Swanwick's Vacuum Flowers with identity confusion straight out of Gene Wolfe land plus aliens as weird ...more
Humans of the twenty-sixth century live in a galaxy more empty than it really should be, haunted by the ghosts of species long extinct. There's 550 pages of intricate plotting here, so I'll just say it's a hard SF novel that jumps from an archaeological expedition to an alien plague to quantum mechanics to neuroprogramming.

The good: Women! who are cool! and who do very cool things! Shiny hard SF ideas. A scattering of really disturbing and effective images that will stick with me. Excellent and
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was my second attempt at reading this book. My first ended about 150 pages in with complete confusion. My second attempt obviously saw me in a much better place to read it as I managed to get through the whole story.

I increase my rating from two to three stars. But really, it is a three and a half star book. I also had to create a new tag; epic science fiction, because I was originally going to use the Space Opera tag, but this is not opera, by any stretch of the imagination. I often though
Well. That was different.

How do I review a book I didn't understand? For that matter, how do I rate a book I didn't understand?

Or better yet, how do I like a book I didn't understand? Well, it happened. What happened, I don't know so much. But I enjoyed the ride.

So yeah. The writing is beautiful in this book. It will take you places...err places you won't recognize, but places where you will go "whoah..dude".

Seriously, I don't know what it is, but Reynolds does have a great narrative voice, even
4.5/5 Primer libro que leo de Reynolds y me ha parecido excelente en el desarrollo de la trama y los personajes. Su prosa me ha gustado notablemente, siendo capaz de posicionarme en ciertos escenarios con increíble realismo como sintiendo la escala "real" del Universo. Multitud de ideas novedosas en cuanto a especulación o proyección de ideas futuras.

El único pero que le pongo es la relativa facilidad de algunas tramas menores para confluir y resolverse mutuamente.

Executive Summary: An interesting story that I found too confusing and full of unlikable characters leaving me a bit disappointed.

Audio book: I like John Lee as a reader for space opera. He has a good voice for it in my opinion. I've listened to some Peter F. Hamilton he narrated as well. He does a few accents and voices, but nothing really special to add to the story and make it a must listen.

That said, this isn't a book I think that works very well in Audio. There is a lot going on and I found
Lisa Eskra
Hmm, where to start with this was immediately obvious why most people steer clear of sci-fi. The level of scientific realism felt forced at the expense of plot and character. Guess that's "hard" sci-fi for you.

All three POV characters had the same voice, and it was too similar to the how the author wrote: ie, dropping in words people would NEVER say because people don't speak that. I could buy the protagonist dropping ten dolla words all the time, but everyone? Strong female leads -- a
Mark Hebwood
Although my rating says that I did not like this book, I sort of did, really. But I did not like it enough, and Alastair's prose started to tire me out after about 200 pages, and got the better of me on page 258, when I stopped reading.

The reason I found this increasingly hard-going is that the novel is heavy on narrative. There are few dialogues, and when the characters do talk to each other, they somehow do so without displaying any defining traits, idiosyncracies, or emotions. I am sure I am
Whew! The last 50 pages felt like a hundred. I originally turned to RS in an attempt to cure my BSG withdrawals. Be careful about what you ask for! Initially I was unprepared for the density of Reynolds' creation. As a result, I set the book aside a few times. But about a third of the way through, dots started connecting, and I was hooked. As a first novel, this is wildly ambitious. So much so that it might be too much. The influences are multiple: The Shining (a haunted ship), Lovecraft, Dante' ...more
Sprawling, energetic, idea-packed, and ambitious as hell. I really did enjoy this one, despite some fairly strong qualms, and I plan to keep reading in the sequence.

Reynolds has an attractive habit of trying to end each major scene in the novel with some sort of cliffhanger or interesting hint, and an equally unattractive habit of then giving us the conclusion or the revelation as a flashback within a future scene. For a hypothetical example, imagine a scene ending with a character staring at a
Scott Rhee
British sci-fi author Alastair Reynold's first novel "Revelation Space" is a terrific read; an amazing blend of space opera, hard SF, and gothic horror that reads like a cross between Frank Herbert's "Dune" and Ridley Scott's film "Alien". The story is set in a rather dreary far future in which mankind is split into so many warring factions that no one knows who or they are fighting. On planet Resurgam, architect Dan Sylveste has discovered the artifacts of an ancient alien civilization which se ...more
A very dark space opera featuring some very cool scenes, ideas, and set pieces, mostly revolving around the Nostalgia for Infinity: an ancient and decrepit space ship the size of a small city, decaying, infected with a plague that messily blends the organic and the mechanic, and generally just a gothic haunted house transposed hundreds of years into the future. The ship’s captain has fallen prey to said disease and is frozen at the bottom of the ship in order to slow the amalgamation, while what ...more
I went back and forth between three and four stars for this. The good... The writing style, story, and characters all appealed to me and drew me in. The bad... The technology was WAY over my head. While it didn't hinder my enjoyment once I accepted that was just the way it was going to be, it did prevent me from fully comprehending / appreciating the ending. All in all, I just can't say more than "I liked it", so three stars it is.
The book is a pattern repeated in fractal effect: there are deceptions and blinds and double blinds ranging from the level of the person (and inside the person) all the way to cosmic civilizations, all hiding their hands and working through agents and endless layers. Despite this endless machinery, it is all focused like a planetary hell-weapon at the same destination, more intricacies than complexities. No matter how far afield a subplot seems to start, it ties in and together.

And the whole pic
Jul 08, 2008 Elze rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes space opera
In short, it's a spectacular space opera. One of the best I've ever read. Actually, it was one of the most exciting SF books I've read in the last few years. Not the deepest or most original, but... exciting. A book that literally makes your heart race as you turn the pages!

Manipulative aliens in your mind...

Still, I believe that to get the most enjoyment out of it you have to be a fan of a particular set of science fictional tropes. If mysterious, super-powerful aliens who set up shop in people
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Alastair Reynolds, former scientist and now full-time writer. Most of what he writes is science fiction, with a strong concern for scientific verisimilitude (although he is prepared to break the rules for the sake of a good story). He has lived in England, Scotland and the Netherlands where he worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency until 2004, but now makes his home back in his ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Revelation Space (5 books)
  • Chasm City
  • Redemption Ark (Revelation Space, #2)
  • Absolution Gap (Revelation Space, #3)
  • The Prefect
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