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Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, a policeman of sorts, and one of the best. His force is Panoply, and his beat is the multi-faceted utopian society of the Glitter Band, that vast swirl of space habitats orbiting the planet Yellowstone. These days, his job is his life. A murderous attack against a Glitter Band habitat is nasty, but it looks to be an open-and-shut case - until Dreyfus starts looking under some stones that some very powerful people would really rather stayed unturned. What he uncovers is far more serious than mere gruesome murder: a covert takeover bid by a shadowy figure, Aurora (who may once have been human but certainly isn't now), who believes the people of the Glitter Band should no longer be in charge of their own destiny. Dreyfus discovers that to save something precious, you may have to destroy part of it.

512 pages, Paperback

First published April 12, 2007

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About the author

Alastair Reynolds

266 books7,702 followers
I'm Al, I used to be a space scientist, and now I'm a writer, although for a time the two careers ran in parallel. I started off publishing short stories in the British SF magazine Interzone in the early 90s, then eventually branched into novels. I write about a novel a year and try to write a few short stories as well. Some of my books and stories are set in a consistent future named after Revelation Space, the first novel, but I've done a lot of other things as well and I like to keep things fresh between books.

I was born in Wales, but raised in Cornwall, and then spent time in the north of England and Scotland. I moved to the Netherlands to continue my science career and stayed there for a very long time, before eventually returning to Wales.

In my spare time I am a very keen runner, and I also enjoying hill-walking, birdwatching, horse-riding, guitar and model-making. I also dabble with paints now and then. I met my wife in the Netherlands through a mutual interest in climbing and we married back in Wales. We live surrounded by hills, woods and wildlife, and not too much excitement.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 786 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
769 reviews3,500 followers
January 23, 2022
Badass conjoiners, wacky AIs, a crime thriller murder plot, and a plague (no, not that one) make it one of Reynolds best novels

A normal human couldn´t withstand that
How conjoiners can, because they are superhumans, endure close to any situation, even over long periods of time, and generally stay completely superior to average humans, is kind of a running gag of the series. But it has hardly ever been exemplified in such a disturbing, freaky way as in this part because no normal, not enhanced human could go through such psychological and physical stress without going completely bonkers.

Self referencing as heck
Please read the series in order, because without that, all the innuendos and connotations get lost. Reynolds is playing with anticipated events of other parts of the series in other timelines, showing other aspects of the fractions, power balances, governments, systems in a different state of technical and sociocultural evolution, and generally expands the Revelation Space universe. And why couldn´t he continue it, why, it´s one of the best sci-fi universes ever created, what a world do we live in where such a groundbreaking milestone of the genre can´t…
Excuse the breakdown, I did also just notice that he continues it, so, false alarm, jay!

Not one AI, 2 of them
And how they show humanity who is boss which leads to an interesting conclusion and forever war that should irritate everyone using networks. A human simply also couldn´t orchestrate such endeavors until they run as smoothly as possible and find good arguments to do so that even somehow seems logical. It reminded me of the amazing evolution of deep mind and
alpha go
, it´s secret superior military and industrial applications I´m not authorized to tell you about because they would terminate me if I would, and what this might look like in 1 or 2 k years.

A tip from a sci-fi veteran
Try to skim and scan the too hard sciency parts if this isn´t your nerdgasm trigger, because the worldbuilding, fractions, style, cool dialogs, pacing, coolness, etc are totally worth this little effort. Many shy away from the heavy load of the hard sci-fi overkill, but miss many of the best parts of it that way that just can´t be shown as stylish in other subgenres or outside the genre itself. Dare to enter the Revelation Space and I promise that you won´t regret it.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,854 reviews16.4k followers
May 13, 2019
I can see this novel being made into a film directed by Ridley Scott and in the mold of Alien and Blade Runner, or Peter Hyams' 1981 film starring Sean Connery Outland.

The Prefect, first published in 2007, by Welsh author Alastair Reynolds, is a stand alone novel but a part of his larger Revelation Space universe of stories and novels. It was a Locus Award nominee for Best SF novel in 2008 (Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union won that year) and was also a nominee for 2007 best novel by The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) (Ken MacLeod’s The Night Sessions won). It is simply a very, very good science fiction novel.

As a part of the Revelation Space future history, it is set in the Glitter Band, a collection of semi-autonomous habitats orbiting the distant planet of Yellowstone. Describing the Glitter Band’s hundreds of millions of inhabitants and their ten thousand separate habitats provides Reynolds and opportunity, literarily almost limitless, to explore varying socio-economic-political institutions. The Prefect includes a portrayal of a habitat where all of the citizens remain in a virtual reality stasis, another world where the residents exist in an almost complete egalitarian / anarchist society. All of the worlds share in common a universal voting system that decides overall Glitter Band policies as well as local decisions.

Akin to Poul Anderson’s Harvest of Stars series, people in Reynolds’s Revelation Space universe have the ability to enjoy biological and neurological alterations. This ability provides Reynolds with a fascinating abundance of character models and sci-fi spectacle. Also like Anderson’s earlier work, a person’s intelligence and memory can be downloaded into another body or machine

The Prefect as a novel is a complex murder mystery that follows the exploits of Tom Dreyfus, a member of a special investigations police force called the Panoply that is responsible for policing the Glitter Band. Like his counterparts in Alien, Blade Runner and Outland, the reader follows Dreyfus through his investigations with Reynolds’s masterful science fiction universe as a backdrop. Very good.

Profile Image for carol..
1,516 reviews7,719 followers
April 29, 2019
When I sat down to read The Prefect, I thought I was reading a sci-fi mystery along the lines perhaps of Leviathan Wakes. Then I thought I was perhaps reading The Last Policeman set in space: the dogged detective solving a crime no one cares about or needs solved. Turns out it was a sprawling space opera, and that just isn't what I expected at all. So a certain recalibration was necessary.

Though billed as a stand-alone novel, I couldn't help but feel like I was starting with Season Two of a series. Tom Dreyfus is a prefect, which is a sort of policeman for the democracies of The Glitter Band, a loose organization of over ten thousand habitats that nominally support the idea of democracy. Dreyfus is sent to investigate the destruction of a habitat and the murder of the nine-hundred-plus people who lived inside it. It appears it may be the work of an Ultra ship that was visiting prior to the destruction, which has enormous political implications, but Dreyfus has the feeling there is more to it than that. As part of his fact-finding, he arranges a delicate diplomatic meeting with the Ultras. He also interviews a couple of the recorded personalities of the habitat residents, known as 'betas.' Apparently the personhood of these holographic recorded personalities is somewhat questionable, particularly since a failed experiment with the trying to fully upload people into an 'Alpha.' Still with me?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Dreyfus' lieutenant Thalia needs to fix a computer bug that is affecting the servers that maintain the democracy of each habitat. Oh, and Dreyfus' other lieutenant is a 'hyperpig,' which may be some sort of genetic thing or racial thing, I couldn't tell, but apparently there's a lot of prejudice there.

That's the rough premise, so you can see where it requires attention. I can see it being one of those books that only appeal to genre readers, unlike Leviathan Wakes, which pulled in even non-genre fans. One mistake is that The Prefect follows a third-person narrative, switching points of view as needed, including that of someone who has an oppositional agenda to Dreyfus' team. There's a two-fold result: one, it spoils the suspense of the mystery early on; instead of discovering along with the detective, the reader is waiting for Dreyfus to catch up. My book notes show that it was only (mild spoiler) so the remainder of the book clearly isn't about the initial mystery.

Two, the narrative switches make it more of a challenge to identify and develop a particular character. I'm not sure I ever learned much about Thalia, except she's driven to overcome the ostracizing of her prefect father. Likewise, Dreyfus is haunted by a particular incident from eight or ten years ago, but not precisely what it was. Beyond that, his history is a mystery.

Reynolds also gets a bit carried away with creativity and gives an overview of a number of worlds in the Glitter Band, including the Prefect base, the decimated habitat, and the four different habitats Thalia is visiting. None of it is germane, and all of it contributes to the feeling of Season Two. You know, Reynolds, it helps to launch the starship before you go to all the different worlds. 

The final challenge is that a number of issues dovetail together in the last bit of the book. It was a genius ending, but really needed earlier build to make it truly mind-blowing. I feel like Reynolds couldn't make up his mind if he wanted to tell the small story (Dreyfus' story) in context of a dramatic backdrop (much like The Last Policeman), or a large story from the viewpoint of various agents. 

That said, it is a great story. The writing is sophisticated and avoids spoon-feeding the reader. The pace feels solid, particularly as it shifts to space-opera. It's an intriguing, sophisticated universe. The philosophical issues raised, both purposefully and as asides, are tantalizing, if somewhat underdeveloped. It's a book that I could see reading again.

Overall, it felt like a good book that could have been great. 

Three-and-a-half stars. I'd give it four, except I started skimming during

Many thanks for Mimi and Milda for motivating me to read it!
Profile Image for Ian.
125 reviews464 followers
June 7, 2012
This is not a book that’s necessarily going to wow you. It’s not flashy. It’s not full of glitz or pizzazz. Basically this book ain’t got much bling. But I’ll tell you what this book does have: execution. The Prefect is thoughtfully and creatively designed, deceptively complex, and just plain well executed. Alastair Reynolds doesn’t use any tricks. He just put together a solid game plan and executed it with precision and style.

The Prefect makes me think of Stanford football’s offense in the Andrew Luck era (it’s Luck’s senior season as I write this review). Stanford uses some misdirection and they love to shift and line up in unbalanced formations, but there’s really nothing tricky or special going on; it’s just classic power football, executed at a very high level. Stanford simply lines up and out-executes the opponent, marching down the field in what seems like modest chunks, then before the opponent realizes what’s happened Stanford is up by 20 points.

I would liken Iain Banks to LSU football under the “Mad Hatter” Les Miles, athletic and tricky; Connie Willis, with her frantic pace that leaves the reader out of breath, looks like Oregon’s no-huddle, quick-strike offense under Chip Kelly. Alastair Reynolds may lack the flair of those writers, but in The Prefect he lined up in the power-I, shifted the tight end, pulled the guard, and executed a perfect play.

I don’t mean to say The Prefect is simple. Like any good power offense it has its subtleties and complexities. Moreover, The Prefect has some unique angles on classic sci-fi themes that I enjoyed immensely. But The Prefect is anything but frustrating to follow; it weaves many threads and then brings those threads together at the end, tying them up in a neat and satisfying conclusion that leaves no questions unanswered. This is an impressively well executed book, gratifying from beginning to end. And it was worth my time, which, ultimately, is one of the best compliments I can pay.

P.S. I suppose I should comment on the reading by John Lee, since this was, after all, the audiobook version. Mr. Lee has not been my favorite narrator in the past, though I’ve found him competent. But in reading The Prefect he was much more than competent. Mr. Lee’s gritty, streetwise style was perfectly suited for this book, and I can’t imagine it being better read by anyone else. Well worth the Audible credit.
Profile Image for Milda Page Runner.
298 reviews235 followers
May 4, 2019

4.5* rounded up to 5*. Whilst it’s not flawless – personally I really enjoyed it and had hard time putting the book down. Given a chance I would have read it in few days.

Intense and fast paced sci-fi mystery thriller. Main focus is on the investigation and events evolve quickly. Worldbuilding and characterisation are kept light, giving you just enough to get the feel for the world (which is incredibly rich and interesting) and enough to connect with the main characters. Concise prose worked for me – not once did I feel like skimming boring descriptions of landscape or architecture.
There is warmth in main character’s relationship with his deputies and Aumonier, and humour in the dialogues that reminded me of Vorkosigan Saga esp. Miles. On the whole though it’s darker, more intense and has much more interesting and imaginative world.
It also has some parallels with Takeshi Kovacs in darker aspects of the world, Ultras (cyborgs), political dilemmas and questions raised. But Prefect is lighter, more upbeat and less philosophical in comparison.
It straddles the line between dark and light quite well in my opinion.

It’s one of those books that drops you straight into action without any introductions or explanations; the worldbuilding is done on the go bit by bit. It takes about 30-40% of the book to get the sense of the world and Panoply. I enjoyed uncovering the puzzle and felt satisfied by the end to have a pretty clear picture.
Now if you dislike blundering in the dark and want to understand the world from the start – there is an intro in the beginning of the second Prefect book Elysium Fire which explains Yellowstone, Glitter Band, Panoply, democracy, polling and what prefects do. Skip the last 2 sentences as they vaguely mention events of the first book and it is perfectly usable at the start.

The Takeaway:

The Clockmaker – blew my mind. One of the most interesting imaginative sci-fi creatures. With the razor sharp edges.
The Whiphound – awesome! In case of zombie apocalypse - I want one of those. :)
Profile Image for David Sven.
288 reviews445 followers
March 11, 2014
I loved it. My favourite Revelation Space novel to date. The only downside is it’s the last one and my Rev space journey has ended – but it has ended very satisfactorily. And at least there are more Alastair Reynolds novels to explore. This is the second book in the series I have listened to on audio and I have to say, John Lee does an excellent job at narration. It’s hard to describe how he adds to the overall tone of the book but I think he just adds a touch of sophistication, a touch of “dark” undertone, and a whole lot of “cool.”

Unlike it’s predecessors in the series, which start off slow in the first half, the pace in this book was off and running from the get go as we are introduced to Prefect Tom Dreyfuss, where he is effecting a lockdown of one of the ten thousand habitats orbiting planet Yellowstone. Dreyfuss, 007Tom Dreyfuss - licensed to euthanize, which includes the inflicting of permanent and irreversible death. Is there any other kind of death? Well...yes! After all, this is the 25th century and we are in the Glitter band, where even decapitation is not necessarily fatal or where you can have an electronic copy of yourself uploaded as a machine intelligence - there’s dying and then there’s dying.

For those already familiar with the Revelation Space Universe (and I would recommend reading the first Revelation Space book and possibly Chasm City first, before getting to this book) our story is set in the Glitter Band, 100 odd years before it gets hit by the Melding Plague and turns into the Rust Belt. The Glitter Band is home to 100 million citizens living in orbit in tunnelled out asteroids and machine structures. We are at the height of the Belle Epoch, a time that is only referred to as a wistful memory in the dark ages that are the setting of the previous books. The contrast is rather refreshing and really really cool. I mean, this place is insane. It’s the Demarchist Era so the system of government is a Demarchy (Democratic Anarchy). That means each of the Ten Thousand Habitats in orbit is pretty much autonomous and self governing. However, all decisions that relate to the whole are voted for or against on the fly via the External Abstraction - an advanced form of internet which most people are constantly connected to via implant or machine accessories.

What this means is that no two habitats are alike. You can be assured to be spoiled for choice in deciding what sort of society you want to live in or what sort of lifestyle you want to lead. If you would rather be walking around in a body that is not baseline human – there’s are habitats that can grow you animal parts – or parts that function more as weapons so you can compete in gladiatorial games and possibly experience non fatal death. Wha...?! Or if the real world is too much for you then you can opt to live purely in a virtual reality in the External Abstraction - In which case you won’t need most of your body parts taking up room and consuming resources. Head and shoulders will suffice. Just park your brain on the shelf alongside the million or so other ones that are hooked into the machine. But maybe even virtual reality is not to your liking. Not a problem, you can join the “Persistent Vegetative State.” Or if you are bored with democracy and would like to experience what living in a dictatorship is like, there are habitats that offer a “Voluntary Tyranny.” So long as you are aware that checking into the Hotel California may be voluntary but, as the song goes...leaving might prove problematic.

However, even a Democratic Anarchy needs some form of regulation. Enter into the mix, Panapoly - The police force elected to ensure that the voting apparatus isn’t tampered with and illegally exploited and that the integrity of the machinery, Polling Cores, in each habitat remains intact. Of all the crimes in the Glitter Band, attempting to subvert the voting process is top of the list and will see you irreversibly killed and any digital copies of yourself erased.

Anyway, that’s the background, our story gets cracking pretty early when a habitat is annihilated and one of Panoply’s top agents, Prefect Tom Dreyfuss, is sent in to investigate. And the pace just keeps ramping up as the Prefect discovers that things are a lot more serious than mere mass murder – oh yes they are.

I was hooked from start to finish, never experiencing a moment when I didn’t want to keep going to find out what happens next. Reynolds does an excellent job of maintaining the tension, and upping the ante as things escalate. There’s mystery, there’s action, there are villains, psychopaths (apart from some of the normal denizens of some of the habitats), Cyborg Ultras, Machine intelligences and some very cool space battles. And it would be remise of me not to mention my favourite weapon in the book – the Panoply standard issue “Whiphound” – It looks like a whip(except when it looks like a sword) and it’s used like a police dog able to take instructions – I think you’ll get a kick out of “Enhanced Subject Compliance” (torture) mode.

I thought Chasm City would be hard to beat and I’m still a little torn on which is my true favourite of the series, but either way, both are on my favourites shelf and I’m giving this...

5 stars
Profile Image for Claudia.
947 reviews524 followers
July 3, 2016

That’s me now, at the end of The Prefect and Revelation Space series. I tried to stretch it as much as I could, but eventually it came to an end…

From the construction’s point of view, if Revelation Space is the thunderstorm, The Prefect is the rainbow after it. Gripping from the very first pages, it’s the most alert and colorful of the entire series. The descriptions of the habitats and their denizens are stunning; the technological and medical details are so punctilious they appear as real as the person who’s reading them; the action is so captivating that you cannot put the book down.

So, for those of you who did not read AR yet, this will be a good start: you may not comprehend entirely the enormity of Revelation Space universe but most certainly it will open your appetite for the rest of the series. For if it doesn’t, then there is something wrong with you and have no idea what you’re missing. :P
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews256 followers
May 16, 2016
5 Stars

The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds is a nearly perfect book to me. I finally had to conclude my time in the Revelation Space universe by reading this one the 7th and final book of the epic space opera. People nitpick Reynolds and complain about his writing. They claim that his characters are too thin, his prose too plain, and his plots too complex. Well let me tell you, even if some of those points ring true at times, there is no denying that Reynolds is a masterful storyteller and a giant among his peers. He writes hard science fiction novels without being too text book. He creates new and imaginative places that are easy to believe and are a gift for us to read. His long stories are truly page turners that you will have trouble putting down. The Prefect was impossible to put down.

I loved this book because it really worked. I am normally not a fan of anything involving prequels, but in this case it truly worked. Having read 6 previous novels in the Revelation Space series I found myself in familiar territory. Knowing how things will be in the future added a huge weight to the story along with a feeling of dread and doom. I found myself wishing that our heroes could change the fate of the world as if things were not destined to be.

The Prefect has many awesome characters, starting with our main protagonist Tom Dreyfus. He is surrounded by amazing people. The action is epic in it's scale and takes place from one end of The Glitter Band to the other. There are space fights and explorations. There is very little down time in this story. The Prefect has many awesome technologies and weapons to drool over. There is just tons to love.

This will be one of my favorite reads of 2016.

I loved it!

I love Alastair Reynolds and consider him to be one of the very best science fiction writers.

Profile Image for Mimi.
692 reviews190 followers
April 20, 2019
This is an excellent, page turning murder mystery set in outer space, and I say that as someone who rarely reads mysteries and space operas. Urban fantasy is more my speed and space things--space ships, space suits, air locks, etc.--make me claustrophobic, and I did sort of feel it during the read, but the mystery was too good to put down.

There's a small quibble about the ending, which I think needs an epilogue, but since there's a sequel, it's not that big a deal. Well... it's not a big deal now that there's a sequel, but it would've been a big deal if I'd read it before the sequel came out.

More on this later once I return to civilization.

A big thanks to Carol and Milda for reading this with me. (Sorry I sped through it)
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews766 followers
November 23, 2014
Alastair Reynolds is an author I keep coming back to like a regular customer, for the simple reason that he is among the top three best sci-fi authors working today (I have no idea who the other two are, I just estimate that if I were to do a top three ranking he would be in it).

The Prefect is set earlier in the Revelation Space timeline. This is not going to mean very much to anyone who has never read anything from Reynold’s epic Revelation Space series. That said this is a standalone book in the sense that the story is complete in itself, not part of an ongoing narrative from other books. However, to get the most out of it I would recommend that you at least read the original Revelation Space novel first to familiarize yourself with the setting. The Prefect starts off as a kind of murder mystery where the protagonist Prefect Tom Dreyfus is investigating the mass murder of the occupants of a space habitat. A Prefect is a policeman of sorts, part of a security task force that specialize in protecting the voting system of The Glitter Band (a group of 10,000 habitats). As the story unfolds it transpire that the murder is merely the beginning of a hostile takeover bid of The Glitter Band by an AI entity.

The worst thing about summarizing a Revelation Space book is that many concepts need to be explained to make any sense to the casual reader, a chore for the reviewer and the reader. It is probably more useful and practical to highlight the novel’s qualities in general terms. The Prefect then is a fast paced story of a race against time to save a huge group of space habitats from being taken over and the citizenry from being wiped out. It is an action packed but fairly complex space opera, fans of weird future tech will have a field day with things like semi-sentient whips, decapitation surgery, irremovable insect-like devices attached to people, robot weevils etc.

There are alien races in the Revelation Space universe but they are only mentioned in passing in this book. The variety of posthumans and AIs are weird enough. The characters are a little flat and generic by Reynolds’ standard, probably due to more emphasis being placed on the plot. There is an interesting exploration of the theme of what constitute a human being. Is an activated backup human consciousness a human being with rights and a soul? Or is it just software? The cases for and against are quite well presented and Reynolds leave it for you to decide.

Reynolds does not pretend to be a literary writer but I always like his clean prose style and believable dialogue. In his other books he sometimes wanders into more lyrical prose style territory but I did not notice any such passages in this book. He did however include an excellent explanation of a “ramscoop”, a sci-fi conceit I never fully understood so I would like to quote it here:

“A starship built around a single massive engine designed to suck in interstellar hydrogen and use it for reaction mass. Because it didn’t have to carry its own fuel around, it could go almost as fast as it liked, right up to the edge of light-speed.”

Generally Reynolds explains the science behind his sci-fi more successfully than most sci-fi authors. Always an advantage with this kind of hard(ish) sci-fi.

The Prefect then is another excellent piece of sci-fi from Alastair Reynolds who has yet to let me down. If space opera and sci-fi tech is your thing then this book can be highly recommended with the caveat that you have at least read Revelation Space first. For a completely standalone Reynolds book not connected to any other books, the awe-inspiring House of Suns is the best option and remains my favourite work of his.

(4.5 stars)
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,106 reviews3,880 followers
July 21, 2009
A multi-faceted space opera detective story. It's detailed and pretty exciting, but a lot of characters are introduced in the first 20 pages or so, and it's a little hard to keep track of who's who when you don't know who are going to be the important ones (clue: they all are).

The habitats of the Glitter Band (satellites around planet Yellowstone) are part of a libertarian demarchy (democratic anarchy), which means constant polls of everyone about everything. Paonoply is the organisation in charge of the polling cores in each habitat and general policing. Within that framework, each habitat can apply whatever system its citizens sign up for, including obscenely vile "voluntary tyrannies", hippy-esque idylls and others where everyone is in PVS or other forms of abstraction or virtual reality.

The story opens after a habitat (and nearly 1000 inhabitants) has been blown up, apparently in a dispute over the purchase of an artwork. It turns out that far more powerful forces are at work. Tom Dreyfus is the Panoply prefect in charge of investigating the case. Meanwhile, one of his deputies, Thalia Ng, visits four other habitats to install trial polling software upgrades. Their stories diverge for much of the book, which gives it breadth, even though you know there will be plenty of overlap between the two.

As befits the writing of a "proper" physicist, the future science is (mostly) plausible, but Reynolds doesn't fall into the trap of explaining too much at a time (which would be artificial and disrupt the story). In fact often things are mentioned and the reader is left wondering what on earth it is until there is the first hint of explanation several chapters later. It all adds to the suspense.

I have only minor criticisms plot-wise. Very early on, one of the prefects seems to have another agenda. I would have preferred it if that plotline had come later, or been vaguer in the early stages. The other niggles concern the end of Thalia's time on the last habitat she visits and the qualifications (and disqualifications) for being Supreme Prefect - rather too far-fetched for my liking.

Many different types of being/consciousness fill the pages, but whilst hints are dropped about racism against hyperpigs by baseline humans, the main themes of the book are much bigger: freedom, democracy and power; consciousness (of "live" beings, machines and hybrids thereof); the old quandary of whether the ends justify the means (whether a benevolent tyranny is better than anarchistic collapse, whether the police should be armed (you can tell he’s a British writer!)); machines going rogue, and whether revenge and justice can ever be the same thing. Fortunately, he lets the reader decide on these issues; there are plenty of shades of grey. For example, there is a degree of understanding for those that could easily be labelled bad, one time explicitly saying such a character is not "a bad man" but "a man who believes bad things".

If you prefer moral absolutes, or you’re particularly fond of clocks and clockmakers, this is probably not the book for you!

Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews185 followers
December 28, 2017
Reynolds’ hybrid police procedural/space opera is great fun, if perhaps a little too frenzied in its plotting. Set in the Revelation Space universe, but about a century prior to the events of the main trilogy, The Prefect is about a law enforcement agency called Panoply, whose sole charge is to defend the democratic rights of citizens in the Glitter Band, a collection of thousands of human habitats in space. Senior Field Prefect Tom Dreyfus and his team investigate the shocking destruction of one of the Glitter Band’s habitats, only to discover that the seemingly open and shut case is a cover for a conspiracy that threatens citizen rule of the entire Glitter Band.
It is interesting to revisit Reynolds’ earlier work after reading some of his more recent novels. The biggest flaw in his writing was always his characters. Not that he couldn’t write interesting or sympathetic ones, but they tended to have a little bit of a black and white nature, as if they only behaved in accordance with their function in the story. The characters in his more recent work seem to have more complex inner lives and variable motives. The Prefect is good old-school Reynolds, though, and fed my nostalgia for the Rev Space universe nicely.
Profile Image for William.
675 reviews316 followers
June 23, 2018
OMG *Godzilla Facepalm*

This book started out so well, terrific, all through the first half. Great characters and tension, complex and wonderfully conceived, with good pacing.

Then.... about half way, BLAM, long-winded dialog, repeated repetition until you go nuts, STUPID STUPID plots twists, bad Hollywood dialogue.

What happens to Reynolds? About half way through writing his books, he seems to get BORED with them, and then just stumbles along.

Or, perhaps, his publisher demands a higher page count, and he stretches things out, pours on a thick layer of molasses, then just gives up in the last 10-20 pages altogether.

He's done this in the previous books too, although Chasm City stayed pretty good until the last 20 pages.

It's like he writes the first half book, and then gives it TO HIS DOG TO FINISH *facepalm*

First half book: Five Stars
Second half book: ZERO STARS


NOTE: Please, please also read his GOOD STUFF: ... Turquoise Days, a novella, and short stories Enloa, Weather, and Zima Blue. Surely his finest works, along with House of Suns.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,248 reviews219 followers
March 4, 2021
What took me so long?

I pretty much love everything I've read by this author, and the Revelation Space books in particular. Somehow I missed that this was a prequel. Now with a sequel to this out, it was very much time to pick them up.

Prefect Dreyfus and the Panoply are such great creations, and with the entire Revelation Space universe as well as the 10,000 habitats of the Glitter Ring to explore, the opportunities for interesting stories are immense. And this first novel in the series certainly exercises those opportunities. Mad AIs, incredibly advanced technology and biotech and post-humans galore, as well as a bewildering array of post-human governments and politics.

Great stuff that you should read if you haven't already. It's a prequel to the rest of the series, so it's a great place to jump in, although I strongly recommend the excellent fan wiki to explain the various post-human types.
Profile Image for Stuart.
708 reviews262 followers
December 10, 2016
The Prefect: Complex detective procedural set among orbitals
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
The Prefect is the fifth Alastair Reynolds book I’ve read in his REVELATION SPACE series, though it is a stand-alone and set earlier in chronology than the other books. By the time of the main trilogy Revelation Space (2000), Redemption Ark (2002), and Absolution Gap (2003), the Glitter Band of 10,000 orbitals has already been destroyed by the corrosive Melding Plague, so we see only its wrecked aftermath. With such tantalizing hints, it is only natural that readers would want to see more of the Glitter Band in its heyday, running the gamut of utopian, democratic, autocratic, escapist, and decadent societies.

Fortunately, Reynolds explores this promising setting with a dark, complex, and compelling detective story filled with determined prefects (futuristic detectives), sinister AIs, post-human ultras, scheming factions, betrayals, revelations, tons of high-tech gadgets and tense action. It is an endless playground for a skilled SF writer with a rich imagination, much like Iain M. Banks in his CULTURE novels. The Prefect (2007) is a surprisingly satisfying mix of hard SF, police procedural, and space opera, all done in Reynolds‘ dense and claustrophobic style. After Chasm City (2001), I’d say it’s his best book set in the REVELATION SPACE universe.

The story begins with prefect Tom Dreyfus investigating some polling violations, because this 10,000 orbital society is linked mainly by a network of polling stations that allows all the citizens to make decisions for the otherwise loosely-linked societies. Prefects are a group of specialized police that make sure the system is not tampered with and that all citizens have access to abstraction, an advanced form of virtual reality and access to the information shared among the 100-million plus members of the Glitter Band. Imagine a direct democracy in which technology allows all members to vote on a real-time basis on all decisions that affect them, without interfering with their daily lives. It’s an often-contemplated utopian ideal, and Reynolds explores the implications in a far-future context which lends it more plausibility.

Once Dreyfus moves to the next assignment to investigate the destruction of an entire habitat called Ruskin-Sartorius, which seems to have been sliced open by a Conjoiner drive, he quickly recognizes this is not a typical crime. In classic detective tradition, the deeper he delves into the details of the case, the stranger and more sinister the clues he unearths, always pointing to mysterious artificial intelligences that seem to be intent on either controlling or destroying the Glitter Band. What I found impressive was just how convoluted the plot became, with multiple nefarious AIs manipulating events for their own purposes, and the various humans who align themselves in an intricate web of intrigue. It takes a lot of concentration to keep track of all the moving pieces, but Reynolds ties together these threads satisfactorily, and places the events in the larger context of the REVELATION SPACE universe.

Overall, I appreciate the details of Reynolds’ universe more after having read five books set in it, and while I stand by my complaints about the excessive page count and glacial pace of the main three books in the trilogy (Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap), I do see that he has taken care to build this world carefully and likely wants to hold back some revelations for future stories. He also has set some shorter stories in this universe which fill in gaps in the larger future-history narrative, including Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days and Galactic North.

As always, John Lee narrates Reynolds‘ stories with gravitas, vaguely European-tinged accents, and a sense of drama and claustrophobic tension. I think some listeners will like his narration for that reason, while others may find it a bit tiresome. But you can’t fault Reynolds and Lee teaming up for a consistent approach — nothing is worse than having the narrator change mid-series.
Profile Image for Daniel.
671 reviews43 followers
May 11, 2019
** Notes from 2019 reread, original review below.

3.75 stars? This did not hold up as well on a reread for me.

Despite the fact enough time had passed between reads for me to have forgotten more about this book than I remembered, familiarity with the story inevitably leads to my paying more attention to the mechanics of the writing and storytelling.

Reynolds' Revelation Space universe is one of my favorite SF settings. The ideas Reynolds uses as wallpaper in his books are more interesting to me than those many other authors base their entire books around. That richness is a big part of what keeps me coming back to Reynolds.

However, I have never considered Reynolds as the best stylist or particularly great at characterization. As for storytelling skills, he is versatile, if somewhat uneven. Pacing and structure aren't always perfect but are generally good enough to please. As I noted in my original review, Reynolds has publicly stated in interviews that with The Prefect he was going for a "24" (The TV series) style story, and I definitely think he succeeded in producing one.

On this reread I was unfortunately hyper-conscious of all those parallels. I was constantly noticing both plot elements (like torture scenes) and structural decisions (quick cuts back and forth between high tensions scenes) that echoed "24", as well as numerous nods of the head to other SF stories. This happened so frequently it became annoying.

"Easter egg" type stuff is generally popular with audiences, but you know, if I'm consciously processing references to other works, or making mental comparisons to other stories, then it's certain I am not currently absorbed in the story at hand. All the parallels and references were kicking me out of the story so frequently it interfered with my ability to enjoy it.

On my first read, The Prefect easily made itself my favorite of the Revelation Space books thus far. But I find myself doubting it could keep that place if I reread the others now.

I give 5 stars to books I think I'd reread, and I did, so I'm not going to lower my rating at this time, but it was definitely much closer to a 3 than a 5 this time around.

--- original review ---

4 1/2 stars. This is very good. As usual with Reynolds the backstory and setting are so rich I often wish he'd go off on tangents or just expand on certain minor details or throw away references. In this particular novel, the main character's a sort of policeman, who starts off investigating the destruction of a habitat that killed 960 people only to find himself entangled in something much bigger.

Reynolds indicated in an interview he was going for a "24" style story here, and it's definitely a page turner with that sort of feel, but as good as it is, but I can't help thinking the backstory would have made at least as good if not a better novel. It's been a while since I read the earlier Revelation Space novels, but I have the sense the structure of the story arc is not quite as good here, no glaring flaws, just a sense that it could have been smoother. I was also a bit frustrated that one specific element wasn't given a more purposeful explanation. Those criticisms aside, it was good, I do hope he comes back to these characters in some sequels or prequels. It's definitely made me want to reread the rest of the Rev. Space novels, and bumped his two collections and two novels I haven't read yet up some spaces in the queue.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,597 reviews238 followers
March 7, 2021
My second book by Reynolds, the other one being Blue Remembered Earth. I liked both. Both long and very dense, with elaborate world building.

On the surface this comes along as a police procedural in a SF setting. Dreyfus is a cop with a strong moral code of right and wrong, committed to justice. My first association was Miller from The Expanse, with a bit of Blade Runner and minus any projectile weapons.

Space opera, ultimately, with the many and very varied habitats of the Glitter Band, artificial intelligences, body modifications, uplifted mammals, many political systems, states of being and an elaborate polling system — fascinating! Other authors would create a whole series with the ideas stuffed into this book. Granted, it took me forever to read this and it felt at least twice as long as it actually was. In a good way!

Looking at some of the more extreme societies of the Glitter Band, one starts to question the benefits of absolute freedom. Freedom of choice without a moral framework; the ability to do what you want, as long as the majority agrees to it, can lead to interesting results.

Did I like the red thread? I did and I bought the reasoning behind it, although it came along as a little contrived and complicated at first. But all the sidelines and extraneous bits came together nicely in the end.

I am tempted to read the next book, Elysium Fire.

First I will read the short story though, Open and Shut, set between the two. Can be read for free here: https://www.gollancz.co.uk/news/2018/...

Some trivia:

The title of the book, The Prefect, was changed to Aurora Rising in a new release from 2017, to better fit with the sequel, Elysium Fire. More about that here: http://approachingpavonis.blogspot.co...

Aurora Rising (Prefect Dreyfus Emergency, #1) by Alastair Reynolds

Reynolds‘ blog is brief. What was there was good to read. http://approachingpavonis.blogspot.com

Official author website: http://www.alastairreynolds.com

About my favourite tool, the whiphound: https://revelationspace.fandom.com/wi...
Excellent fan wiki here: https://revelationspace.fandom.com/wi...
Profile Image for Robert.
816 reviews44 followers
January 28, 2012
Alastair reynolds has become a highly competent writer of science fiction entertainments, able to balance his penchant for grotesquery and Gothicism with characters it is possible to like. In my view he has been more successful when limiting the scope of any given novel to one aspect of his larger imagined universe, allowing him to concentrate his powers of description, generating a strong flavour of the culture the action develops in. The Prefect does just that.

This particular novel is a detective story set in the Glitter Band - a place that will be familiar to Reynolds' fans. It is well written and gripping but relies at one point on a trick he's pulled once before - I hope not to see it again in the future.

Reynolds' Century Rain also involved a detective and Peter F. Hamilton is also keen on mixing the detective story with the science fiction thriller - is a new sub-genre forming?

Re-reading this I observe that there is an automaton in the shape of an owl that plays a minor role. Now Reynolds openly admits to taking inspiration from films and this particular owl appears to resemble a certain gift from the Goddess Athena in Ray Harryhausen's last film, Clash of the Titans. Hmmm. Release the Kraken!

I also think I have done Reynolds a mild dishonour by suggesting that this is perhaps only an "entertainment." In fact there is a very overt battle in the book between two characters, one of whom thinks people need to have their rights curtailed in the name of their own safety and another who is entirely opposed to this. Now, that doesn't strike anyone else as perhaps being relevant to the current political situation in various Western nations, does it?
Profile Image for William.
229 reviews34 followers
March 28, 2020
In addition to being great books, the Revelation Space series and Beyond The Aquila Rift establish one of my favorite settings. The Prefect takes place in The Glitter Band, a ring of ten thousand human habitats orbiting a planet called Yellowstone in the Epsilon Eridani system, 3.2 parsecs from Sol. Tom Dreyfuss, the major protagonist, is a field prefect for an organization called Panoply, which is charged with maintaining and protecting the democratic process in The Glitterband. Each habitat has its own local server, called a "polling core", connected to The Glitter Band's distributed voting process, which citizens access via neural implants. Individual habitats are granted local autonomy, but all citizens vote on issues that affect the entire Glitter Band. Our story starts with Dreyfuss investigating poll tampering on one of the habitats.

The Prefect is my new favorite in the Revelation Space setting for a number of reasons. First, it's a damn good mystery. Tom Dreyfuss is a bruised and battered Panoply agent, working in the field far past the normal age when most have moved on to administration, and we experience most of the story from his viewpoint. The pre-defined setting frees Alister Reynolds to showcase his excellent character and story development skills, whereas previous books spent a lot more time world-building. Dreyfuss and the rest of the cast are extremely well written complete with the three dimensional, and plausible motivations Reynolds fans have come to expect. No cardboard cutouts to be found among the leading cast.

Like other Revelation Space books, The Prefect crosses many genre borders. Sci-Fi, thriller, noir, and horror are perfectly blended, and even more amazingly, well written. Reynolds spent years sowing the seeds of his vision, and it is fully realized in The Prefect. The tone of the book is very gritty and dark, similar in feel to Reynolds' short story "Diamond Dogs", and this is when the author is at his best.

This is starting to read like all of my Alistair Reynolds reviews, but they are all just so good! I would definitely recommend reading the Revelation Space books, and Beynond The Aquilla Rift before The Prefect. While I imagine it would be possible to read The Prefect first, the book simply will not be as good without the rich lore from earlier books.

This is a very special series, one I would call "essential reading". Don't miss it!
Profile Image for Phoenixfalls.
147 reviews79 followers
September 28, 2010
The Prefect started out rough for me. The characterization was shoddy through the opening act -- the only female viewpoint character, Thalia Ng, was also the only character who seemed to feel any emotion at all, and as she was mainly nervous and afraid her emotions undercut my respect for her as a prefect -- especially as the other prefects whose viewpoints Reynolds showed all appeared calm, cool, collected, and totally in control. There were also moments where Reynolds forced the characters to have totally artificial-feeling conversations to provide important information to the reader -- not quite conversations of the "Well, as you know, Bill, the Glitter Band is a string of 10,000 habitats circling the planet Yellowstone" variety, but close.

The imaginative scope of The Prefect fell shy for me in the beginning as well. All the best bits of imaginative work had been covered in previous novels set in this universe -- the Ultras and their ships are very minor characters, the Glitter Band and Chasm City are just there as backdrop, and no real prose is spent going over any of their wonders. The only new bits of imagination are expended on the four habitats that Thalia visits by herself, and they seemed surprisingly juvenile creations -- one consists of people who have given up most of their physical bodies in favor of a total life of the mind, so when they need to walk around they are merely heads in boxes; another is made up of people who have modeled their bodies after various animals and engage in violent jousting tournaments full of claws and teeth, fur and feathers. That imagery has been done before, and Reynolds himself seemed bored with it, as he switched away from Thalia's perspective after he set each of those habitats up and didn't return to her until she was done dealing with them.

But as soon as Thalia arrived at House Aubusson, the novel started picking up speed. That habitat did show some of Reynolds' usual imagination, and its role in the complicated Demarchist voting system was fascinating to me. And shortly after that point, the final showdown began, and the book started racing towards its finish line. From that point I was glued to the page, feeling the tension rising and worrying my own brain at the problem of coming up with a solution to the threat bearing down on Panoply and the Glitter Band.

Unfortunately, that point was only 180 pages into a 563 page novel. There is no way for any author to maintain a feverish intensity for the entire last two-thirds. The only way to pace a novel of that length is to have a mini-climax somewhere in the middle, a ramping down of the tension, and then a second, higher escalation for the true climax at the end. Reynolds had no mini-climax, no ramping down and then re-escalation, so though I raced through the middle section, by the time the story was starting to draw to a close I (and the narrative) was losing steam. The ending itself was a bit too much of a deus ex machina resolution for my taste (quite literally, actually), and the emotional story arc for Dreyfus simply never connected enough for me for that to be justification for reading the almost 600 pages.

So ultimately, I would recommend this novel to anyone who's read the other Revelation Space novels because it does fill in some of the back story on the Glitter Band, but anyone who has never tried Reynolds before would be much better off starting with the original trilogy (Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, and Absolution Gap), which has much more impressive hard SF imaginings (I miss the Nostalgia for Infinity!) or with the other semi-standalone novel, Chasm City, which has a much better mystery.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,806 followers
February 1, 2012
In this one I went from 4 stars down to 3 stars and then back to 4.

There are strong characters, a sturdy world (universe....multiverse?)and a good plot. The plot however started to fray badly about halfway through the book. I felt like he'd strewn his conspiracy laden plot out into a few too many strands and then let the strands sort of get out of control. The story lost focus and even began to wear a little thin out at the edges as he shifted from place to place, view to view, and character to character. BUT he got control back hammered it back into shape and the book came together nicely. I can safely say I liked it.

This is the first Reynolds book that I've read and I read it out of order. It's the 5th in his Revelation Space set. It might have helped if I'd read the others first. It does end as if there will be more...oh well. Pretty good read, if space opens up on my "to be read" list (fat chance) I may add some more of Reynolds books.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,911 followers
February 11, 2014
I was wondering how the trilogy would hold up in comparison to a kind-of prequel, and was delighted to see a greater exploration of Aurora in the hey-day of humanity's triumph. Even more, I enjoyed seeing the stakes for what they were and the premonitions of things to come. As a police procedural, it was a much better book, in my humble opinion, than Chasm City, although both had their definite charms. The stakes are always high in these books, as is the body count. I've now got my Reynolds sweet tooth and have got to have more. I don't know what to expect next, and don't even know if he'll be remaining within the same universe as these other 5 books that I've devoured, but I'm in full-enjoyment mode, now.
Profile Image for Hank.
779 reviews74 followers
June 16, 2018
Well done detective novel based in space/future! My third read in the Revelation Space universe and they have all been 4 stars. I think I still like Revelation Space the best but I haven't had a miss yet.

Like so many of Reynolds' novels it seems to end with a bit of a whimper, the climaxes are definitely cerebral rather than epic which is good but usually that means I can never quite get to the 5 star rating. Regardless it was a captivating story based in a complex, believable universe. The strengths are the MC and the various bits of the universe Reynolds keeps alive, Ultras, Conjoiners, The glitter band all awesome.

Unlike most series written out of order I think I would recommend people read this in universe chronology order. I think several parts of The Prefect would make Chasm City more impactful but that is one, lone readers opinion.

Profile Image for Lee.
351 reviews188 followers
August 26, 2013
Reynolds has without doubt become one of my favourite authors. Which is interesting
because early on in my reads of his books I found him to be too technical, taking hard scifi beyond what I could hope to understand. But as I read more of his works I have become to enjoy his work and to be honest, I think his work is just getting better

Story: 5/5
1: Being Vague, rambling plot with no little believable storyline
5: Ripping yarn, clever, thought provoking

The prefect is a stand alone story about the Glitter Band that was a part of the Revelation Space series. I was fascinated about the Glitter band and was very happy to be able to get into this story. The Glitter band is 10,000 habitats built onto rocks and asteroids hanging around Chasm City. Each habitat offers something unique in lifestyle from your regular humdrum life on the planet. You can have your head pulled off and spend your life immersed in the equivalent internet, you can replace half your body with a dolphin tail and have you legs serve you drinks, you can even go to planets where you begin a serf to a tyrant. What ever tickles your fancy. The main story is about the polling police. Each habitat has a vote and with 100,000 million people of 10,000 habitats they take their polling seriously. The Prefects uphold the law of the glitter band, but do not have any real powers on each habitat, so it is an interesting blend of power with out power unless the rules of the glitter band are at stake.

It is kind of a hard hitting scifi whodunnit detective story with some nice political avenues, intrigue, power plays, dastardly bad guys with ultimately good motives and weird aliens. I loved the story line and thoroughly enjoyed the pace of it. Reynolds has certainly backed off the real hard stuff as he has developed this series. My only beef is, that this is a one off book, I think he could write a whole series on the Glitter band alone.

Characters: 5/5
1: Unrealistic/unbelievable. Feel nothing for these characters
5: Fully engaged with the characters, believable. Researched.

Great character builds. There are probably 5 solid characters in this that you really start to get to know and feel for. I think the development of both Dreyfus and Ng was excellent as they both developed and changed as the story went on. The bad guy played a very nice role in that he fundamentally didn’t think he was the bad guy and it was written in a believable way that had me for a while hoping he would see the error of his ways and join the forces of good once again. Once again Reynolds writes a great Pig character, for those of you who have read Revelation and enjoyed Scorpio will be happy to meet Sparver.

Read Weight: Solid
Fluffy, Light, Solid, Heavy, Struggle

Not as heavy as his earlier books, but still a solid scifi read.
Engagement: 4/5
1: Not fussed about finishing
5: Could stay up all night

I was engaged, I loved coming back to the story, but it was paced so that i never felt like I couldn’t put it down. There are only a few crucial moments during the story that have you on the edge of your seat, the rest is a long build up to the ending.

Recommend: 4/5
1: Would advise you to read something else
5: Go read it now. It is THAT good

If you are a scifi fan and love space world building then you’ll probably enjoy this. If you have never read any of Reynolds before, this is a good enough place to start. You could easily read this and then go read Revelation Space.
Profile Image for RG.
3,092 reviews
April 5, 2018
I havent read many books by this author but I always tell myself I should. This sounded like my thing, a sort of harder than normal scifi with police procedural elements. The start was excellent with the build up and the world building as well as the crime or issue that arises. My issue though comes into the characterisation. I just felt like everyone was overly similar and I felt that Dreyfuss was that exciting. It felt like two books, with the 2nd half having pretty cliched dialogue and resolution or story arcs that just occured because it was needed to progress either the character or story. Solid but I've read better scifi. I read this because Id heard book 2 was really amazing. Will definitely give book 2 a shot.
Profile Image for 7jane.
676 reviews249 followers
November 18, 2021
(AKA Aurora Rising.) Spoilers may have spoilers for things later on the ‘verse timeline.

The Glitter Band, a swirl of space habitats orbiting the planet Yellowstone, the hub of human interstellar empire; in which Prefect Tom Dreyfus works to solve cases Panoply gets, and the newest of his cases – a murderous attack against one of the habitats, Ruskin-Sartorius, with over 980 people dead. But something more serious is going on: someone is seeking for the control of the habitats, and some things from the past refuse to stay quiet any longer.

This is a detective story mixed into scifi world (of course, moments of horror may occur, like in some other stories by the author). In this book we finally arrive at the Demarchist place where a lot of things will happen in many other books besides this one: the Glitter Band (did you really want to insert that music nod here, Reynolds? *lol*), the planet Yellowstone, and Chasm City. If you have read the short stories “Great Wall Of Mars” and “Glacial”, a familiar name has reached godhood (the use of the name of ), and Yellowstone has yet another ancient base of , as happened on Diadem.

(Some review quotes in the book said it would work as fine stand-alone introduction to the RS universe, but it’s not a standalone anymore – whatever, you could read it as a first one just fine IMO.)

Besides Dreyfus, you get a closer look at some other Prefects and Panoply people. Panoply is the organisation that keeps the law in this place. Jane Aumonier is the leader with a problem on her neck that keeps her from much action besides giving orders – keeps her from moving much, and from sleeping (11 years so far!). Thalia Ng is still a bit green, but her role in the case is all-important. Then there’s the hyperpig human Sparver, a bit of an outsider and a good help for Dreyfus during the case, especially towards the end. Demikhov the doctor is also interesting to follow as he tries to figure what to do with Aumonier’s neck trap, and how to get it out without killing her. And then there’s of course the mole...
The usual weapon for Panoply prefects is the whiphound, which can be used for both good and bad, and in surprising ways that are quiet brilliant. The weapon Aurora gets is and it’s a terrifying thing, though it has a weakness.

There are two things in the past that are connected to the present: how the threatening villain came to be; and how the only threat to her caused much destruction, including the trap on Aumonier’s neck. Only towards the end can we put things together and get the full picture of the latter – whose history runs further back than the one which made Aurora like she is now - a kind of a killer whose talk sounds familiar and one can feel one should be careful what one says to them when answering it. Both beings have been crooked by experiments gone wrong, and by letting the latter,

Interesting things appear in the story that might nod towards later events, like what Aurora finds about the future (). I’d like to know more about , and see that artpiece Dreyfus rescued from the remains of Ruskin-Sartorius. Some of the details of the places Thalia and Dreyfus visit sound interesting, I would like to see art on them (pandas, flying horses, the bronze mechanical owl, the final 8-head carving of Mt Rushmore, people living as living busts).

It was interesting also to see how Dreyfus and others start slowly unraveling Aurora’s chances to reach her goal, even with the mole () around. I quite enjoyed the final Dreyfus will feel a little better about the his own past, and this world will be in balance at least for a moment. On to the next story…
Profile Image for MadProfessah.
364 reviews161 followers
September 3, 2010
Despite never having heard his name before a year ago, British science fiction writer Alastair Reynolds has turned into one of my favorite authors.

In the space of about 8 months (December 2009 through July 2010), I have read five of his novels, all of which are set in his Revelation Space universe. Those books are (in the order I read them) Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Chasm City, Absolution Gap and The Prefec.

The Revelation Space universe is at least as interesting as Peter F. Hamilton's Confederate and Commonwealth universes. The two British authors have similar ideas: humanity is flourishing hundreds of years in our future, we have met a few aliens and technology (especially in computing) has advanced in particular ways. Both universes feature a way for humans to "cheat death." In Hamilton's, a memory cell which contains the entire personality can be backed up and then inserted into a cloned copy of the original person, and people can generally select their age, sex and overall physical appearance. In Reynolds' universe a back-up of the personality can be made and then installed in either an "alpha-level" or "beta-level"simulation which runs on a computer. Alpha-level simulations are controversial, they are considered independent entities in their own right; beta-level simulations are more common and are more likely to be replications of the original human personality they were based on.

Reynolds' stories are darker, more cerebral and intricately plotted with secrets within secrets to be revealed to the reader during the execution of the plot. Hamilton stories are usually more straight-up swashbuckling military space operas, thrilling adventures that greatly entertain. Hamilton is still my favorite writer, but Reynolds gives him a run for his money!

A theme of Reynolds' work is the inclusion of complicated choices (often between multiple, equally bad scenarios) that his characters have to make and his obsession with identity and misdirection. Oftentimes a central question in the books is discovering the solution to a central mystery, and several times that mystery involves the "true" identity and motives of a central character.

The Prefect is set in a time period between the events of Revelation Space and Chasm City, set in the Glitter Band, a group of 10,000 human-made habitats set in orbit near the planet Yellowstone in the Sky's Edge star system. The title character is Tom Dreyfus, who is a member of Panoply, which is basically the police force for the 100 million people who live in the Glitter Band. Panoply officers are not allowed to carry guns, because their mission is to insure the process of democracy in the band, which occurs through nearly continuous electronic plebiscites of the populace. However, The Prefect at its core is really a standard detective novel, which I like because I am also a big fan of mysteries. It is reminiscent of Reynolds' best book to date, Chasm City, which also revolves around the work of a cop.

It is also a hard sci-fi novel. The book has profoundly altered humans known as Ultras, another group of altered humans known as Conjoiners, space battles, sentient computer programs and a possibly alien entity known as The Clockmaker.

If you like "hard" sci-fi and the work of authors like Hamilton, Reynolds and Neal Asher, you will almost definitely enjoy The Prefect. I did!

Title: The Prefect.
Author: Alastair Reynolds.
Length: 416 pages.
Publisher: Ace.
Date: June 3, 2008.



Profile Image for Charles.
495 reviews83 followers
April 17, 2019
I fondly remember the Revelation Space series and with some time I my hands decided to 'fill-in' the bits I'd left out. Note this book was re-titled and can also be found as Aurora Rising .

I found this story disappointing.

Alastair Reynolds writes a very credible science fiction story. I like detective/science fiction crossovers. However, there was little mystery in this story, and you'd need an encyclopedic knowledge of Revelation Space to achieve context with the story. I really think the book should have been named Deus ex machina to fit the too pat ending. In summary, not the best of the Glitter Band / Rust Belt sub-series of Revelation Space books by the author.

Still folks interested in the author must read Chasm City, which is very good and the best of the Revelation Space books.
Profile Image for Reaper Hound.
502 reviews7 followers
September 8, 2022
4.75 stars
𝐀𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐑𝐞𝐲𝐧𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐬

𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘮𝘶𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘴𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘢 𝘴𝘰𝘳𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬, 𝘣𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩�� 𝘙𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘚𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘺 𝘦𝘯𝘫𝘰𝘺𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘱𝘭𝘰𝘵-𝘵𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵'𝘭𝘭 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘧𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘶𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘢 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘚𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘦. 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘵𝘰 𝘪𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘳 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘴𝘯'𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘱𝘰𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘬 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘭𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘹'𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯'𝘴 𝘢𝘳 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘵, 𝘢𝘵 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦.

𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘯'𝘵 𝘣𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘣𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘰𝘺𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘭𝘦 𝘗𝘰𝘷 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘭 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘳𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘤𝘤𝘶𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐'𝘮 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘺. 𝘈𝘴 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘐𝘯𝘩𝘪𝘣𝘪𝘵𝘰𝘳 𝘛𝘳𝘪𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘢 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘦𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘐 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘙𝘦𝘺𝘯𝘰𝘭𝘥𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘷𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘶𝘣-𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘧𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬, 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐'𝘮 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘭𝘺 𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘸 𝘮𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬, 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯'𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘳𝘯𝘺 𝘰𝘳 𝘧𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳.

𝘙𝘦𝘺𝘯𝘰𝘭𝘥𝘴 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘸𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧𝘧 𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯'𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘤𝘺𝘯𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘵𝘺𝘱𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘳'𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘤𝘪-𝘧𝘪 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘦𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘳 𝘩𝘰𝘱𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘭𝘺 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘳𝘯𝘺 𝘢𝘭𝘸𝘢𝘺𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘥𝘺𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘤𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘪𝘴 𝘥𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦𝘥, 𝘙𝘦𝘺𝘯𝘰𝘭𝘥𝘴 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘧𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘳𝘰𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘺 𝘧𝘢𝘷𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘧𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘚𝘤𝘪-𝘍𝘪

𝘐𝘵'𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘵'𝘭𝘭 𝘴𝘶𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘦

𝘐 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘦𝘯𝘫𝘰𝘺𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘦.
Profile Image for Gavin.
1,074 reviews311 followers
September 23, 2020
Great fun!

Reynolds describes an Archipelago epistocracy - that is, a loose collection of thousands of city-states with their own weird constitutions (voluntary fascisms, upload city, voluntary coma land, luxury Running Man land), with federal votes weighted by your past performance at predicting / causing good changes. The only federal crimes are voting related: messing with the central vote, denying their citizens the vote. (They don't seem to enforce the other thing you'd need to make this minimally acceptable: iron exit rights.)

Reynolds is clearly also having fun here, where I found Revelation Space exhaustingly grim and sepia.

I particularly loved his entire society of professional superforecasters / high-quality futarchist voting bloc, who make their living off lobbyists and being bellwethers and spend most of their time buggering about with hobbies. (You are ejected if your calibration drops below 50% better than normal people.)

He husbands his twists, and keeps almost all characters in the dark (including the antagonists) all the time. It also takes the horror of exponentials seriously; machine intelligence's scalability is the worst thing about it, and here we get two great scary instances.

One downside is that it feels like book #3 in a series; maybe one infodump too few or something.
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