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Revelation Space

(Revelation Space #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  49,923 ratings  ·  2,493 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 March 2000)
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Sandy And this is not an answer. But I agree. The main sequence -- Space, Ark, and Gap -- you should read in order. But Chasm City does a nice job of settin…moreAnd this is not an answer. But I agree. The main sequence -- Space, Ark, and Gap -- you should read in order. But Chasm City does a nice job of setting the stage for that trilogy.(less)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  49,923 ratings  ·  2,493 reviews

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mark monday
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi-modern
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, full o ...more
Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Different entities, old powers, mind parasites (hopefully symbiotic), flesh metal hybridization, dangerous artifacts, 2 badass fighter femme fatales, ancient sentient superweapons, a short glimpse at Chasm City, and good old potential apocalypse in the hardest space opera out there in the endless and manifold dimensions of known, accessible to humans, Sci-Fi.

I am not sure who invented the idea of bio nano fusions by technology, viruses, xenoviruses, weaponized viruses, computer viruses, or good
Kevin Kelsey
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of hard SF
The most elaborate resolution of the Fermi paradox that I've ever come across. This book is dense with huge concepts that are very difficult to wrap your mind around, and it makes you try over and over again.

Xenoarchaeology, transhumanism, artificial intelligence, stellar manipulation, black hole manipulation, quantum entanglement, quantum computing, quantum simulation, spacetime fissures, etc.

All of this plus one of the most complicated and satisfying mysteries in modern science fiction, unfo
Aug 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this book, but more than that, I greatly respected the work that Reynolds did and was awestruck by his accomplishment.

This is a phenomenal book in many ways.

Reynolds, a Welsh PhD astronomer and member of the European Space Agency, has some Sheldon Cooper street cred right out of the gates and he delivers with some seriously high brow SF tooling that left this knuckle dragging reviewer scratching his pate and just being impressed.

“You don’t say, Dr. Reynolds?” aside – what did
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a complete revamp of my Revelation Space review which I posted in 2011 when I was two years old or something. I have since read the three books in the Revelation Space Trilogy and several other novels set in the author’s “Revelation Space universe”, his very own MCU without the M or the C. The main reason I decided to reread this particular volume is that for the life of me I cannot remember what it is about. Even the reread did not jog my memory very much, I just remember certain scenes ...more
Andrew Obrigewitsch
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Three surefire steps to ruin a good story:

1. Insert cardboard cutout characters that have the same personality that over analyzing everything they can.

2. Include massive 20 minute info dumps every 20 minutes.

3. Have your book narrated by Ben Stein the boring teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Wonder Years.

This is literally how this book went:

(very conservative mildly interested voice) "By George, Sam, I think someone just vaporized Joe, with a trans-numatic ray gun. Why isn't that s
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
> Conjoiners, Demarchists, Ultras, Skyjacks;
> Amarantins, the Shrouders, Revelation Space, the Pattern Jugglers, Resurgam, Cerberus, Hades;
> Ilia Volyova, Ana Khouri, Sylveste, Sajaki, the Captain, Nostalgia for Infinity;
> Sun Stealer, the Dawn War, the Inhibitors.

With good and bad, I love them all, and the story Al Reynolds wove around them. I had forgotten some details and it was such a pleasure now to rediscover and being able to focus mainly on them instead of the plot, which I already knew
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is the book that made me fall in love with science fiction again.

I read a lot of SF in the 90s, but the genre had fallen off my radar until I picked this up and kicked off a sci-fi binge that I'm still on nearly a decade later.

Revelation Space is Space Opera of the grandest style, filled with high drama and soaring narrative arias. Like a number of SF works Reynolds' book deals with the Fermi paradox - the strange lack of other intelligent life in the universe, or at least other intellige
Aug 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, top-10-scifi
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
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
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
Dirk Grobbelaar
Update and minor edit

OK, so I can confirm now that the Revelation Space series is one of the favouritest favourites.

Delayed Review

I read Revelation Space back when the Rust Belt was still the Glitter Band (ho ho). However, I recall enough to know that it is brilliant stuff.

I’m sticking to the five star rating I gave it at the time. In fact, this book is also on my Favourites shelf, and there it shall remain.

I really enjoyed the dark and gothic vibe of Revelation Space, which, by the way, is ex
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Revelation Space" takes place in the 26th century, when humans have achieved space travel and can journey vast distances in 'lighthugger' ships that fly at almost the speed of light.

The story opens on the planet Resurgam, which was inhabited by the Amarantin civilization until nine hundred thousand years ago. At that time, just when the Amarantin were about to attain space flight, a catastrophe wiped out the entire race.

Now, small human settlements populate Resurgam, one of which is led by Dan
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
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
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a great read if you're looking for a fully fleshed out setting populated by one delightfully egotistical protagonist/villain and equally morally suspect crew of an ultra's spacecraft. The scope was very large and I always love that. It took some time to get into many of the characters, but by the end it was worth it. I loved the ending so much that I picked up the next in the series, even though I knew that they were only tangentially related.
Definitely books for when you need to throw
Dec 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
A complex space-opera plot with a shallow world confined only to characters' stance, Revelation Space is cogent in all its guises but fails in lack of proper implementation. ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Young adults and above who enjoy deep, thoughtful medium-hard science fiction novels.
Shelves: favorites
Revelation space is the first book in Alistair Reynolds’ eponymous science fiction series. It is the story of monomaniacal archaeologist Dan Sylveste’s quest to excavate the secrets of the Amarantin, an extinct humanoid race who mysteriously disappeared centuries ago without a trace.

The story begins on planet Resurgam, as Sylveste’s team of scientists face a decision of whether or not to continue their work in the face of a deadly storm headed their way. Sylveste is convinced they are close to a
David Sven
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Mar 20, 2012 rated it liked it
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
An epic "hard" sci-fi space opera (so my teen 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 power; an assassin recruited in Chasm City on Yellowstone. It does mean the early chapters
Revelation Space: Dark, dense, slow-burning space opera
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
I’ve been planning to read this series for many years, because Alastair Reynolds, Peter F. Hamilton, Stephen Baxter, Ken MacLeod, Charles Stross and Iain M. Banks are regularly mentioned at the forefront of the British Hard SF movement. Sure, there are many non-British well-known hard SF and space opera practitioners like Kim Stanley Robinson, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Vernor Vinge, Dan Simmons, Greg
Dave Edmunds
May 11, 2021 rated it really liked it

"The cards always look different when it’s your turn to play them; loaded with subtly different possibilities"

I decided to take a walk on the wild side this month, reading Alistair Reyonolds' sprawling space opera, Revelation Space. We're talking pure, full on hard sci fi. Reynolds is a former astro-physicist with a Ph.D in astrology. It definitely shows and I have to say that this is a challenging but rewarding reading experience. There's a range of concepts that require a little bit of eff
Megan Baxter
Sep 07, 2011 rated it liked it
This was quite enjoyable, and another book in the "I liked it but didn't love it" file. Revelation Space is a sprawling trip through time (in only one direction) through a universe filled with unknown and unknowable aliens, human factions, and a dead world, killed aeons ago by a solar flare that might or might not have been related to the spacefaring contingent of that world - according to the main character, Dan Sylveste, at least. No one else believes him.

Note: The rest of this review has been
Heidi The Reader
Through the interweaving stories of a scientist, soldier, and weapons expert, Alastair Reynolds explores classic science fiction themes in Revelation Space, a space opera and mystery.

"Despite being buried for nine hundred thousand years - at the very least - the chambers were almost intact, with the bones inside still assuming a rough anatomical relationship to one another. They were typical Amarantin skeletons." pg 11, ebook

Nearly a million years previous, an entire species called Amarantin dis
Alex Nieves
Full video review here: https://youtu.be/68Az-BXTBsQ

I definitely enjoyed this first book in the series by Alistair Reynolds. The themes, concepts, and attention to detail were next level. While this book started out incredibly strong after a couple of chapters for me, the middle unfortunately dragged a little bit and meandered and that sort of detracted from my overall enjoyment of book.

I really did like how the book wrapped up though and I did enjoy it enough to want to continue and I'm hoping
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
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
Aug 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Aug 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, wales
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
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book started off very well. Intelligent, literate and with great characters and a good central mystery. The only real problem was the that each plot thread was interwoven in tiny amounts, making progress very disjointed. Still, there was huge promise in this.

By halfway through, the author's narcissism began to overwhelm his good sense, and the pacing became glacial. Each step of plot required more and more pages.

The plot itself became more and more complex, with ever more subplots and diver
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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 Revela ...more

Other books in the series

Revelation Space (5 books)
  • Redemption Ark (Revelation Space, #2)
  • Absolution Gap (Revelation Space, #3)
  • Inhibitor Phase
  • Rivelazione: La trilogia originale

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