Szplug's Reviews > Revelation Space

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
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really liked it

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 away at my enjoyment; and a more diligent editor trimming away at the fat would have been appreciated. Still, as far as space opera goes, this is about as good as it gets: Reynolds delivers entertainment, speculation, dark mystery, high tech savvy, and downright satisfaction in ingenious fashion.

As an addendum—and one which contains spoilage—the more I think about this novel, the more I am simultaneously impressed by Reynolds' cosmic creativity and writing skill and irritated by the character and story inconsistencies, particularly those annoying plot bubbles that were inflated for dramatic effect and then left pinned to the textual corkboard, receding to invisibility as events propelled the reader forward; plus, the Amarantin bifurcation doesn't make any sense. As for the ending, in the rapid crush of trying to wind it all down I neither sufficiently appreciated how cleverly Reynolds brought things to a head, nor how silly that whole Walkin' on the Moon...Da do do coda was. If only Reynolds had cut that final cropping of picnic basket dunciad, Revelation Space would have ended on a high note—well, after I learned what happened to Khouri and Ilia. Notwithstanding that Reynolds failed to establish any coherence to their actions, outlook, or purposes, I have to admit that I was pretty fond of those two ladies by the time Sylveste makes his big play for stardom—indeed, Ilia Volyova continuously reminded me, for reasons I cannot readily concretize, of GRer-on-sabbatical Knig-o-lass. It turns out that I guess I am fine with the fate Reynolds determined for that saucy, plucky, and resourceful pair; it's the remainder that just slightly curdled.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 22, 2012 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-37 of 37 (37 new)

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message 1: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez It belongs on this list.

Szplug Haha! Nice!

I kid you not, that very thought occurred to me several times while reading this. One of my idiosyncratic reading habits is a continuous flipping to examine the front and back covers of the book—and Reynolds' nominal gigantism was ever noticeable.

message 3: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez It's such a weird publishing habit! I mean, I can't even read the title on the thumbnail above. It's all tiny and spotty, regardless of the fact that my computer monitor is pretty damned big.

message 4: by Szplug (last edited Jul 22, 2012 10:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug I agree. It's even more peculiar when you consider that this was Reynolds' first novel, and I believe this was the original Gollancz cover; so had Reynolds built up an impressive word-of-mouth reputation that would account for reducing the title itself to, more or less, a review blurb?

BTW, Paquita M—would this ever be something you would read? Once would have read? Or just not within the wheelhouse?

message 5: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez I've never really been a Sci-Fi girl for some reason. I mean, I guess I like Sci-Fi movies and such, but I've always sorta been behind everyone else on that kind of stuff. (I've been investing time recently watching the X-Files all the way through because I had NEVER watched it until recently, and I even grew up all through the time it was on television. I'm probably one of the only Americans in this situation right now.) Probably the most Sci-Fi books I've read have been, like, Brave New World. I'm seriously a dunce on the matter.

message 6: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Total Recall is one of my favorite hangover comfort movies, though...for what that's worth?

message 7: by Szplug (last edited Jul 22, 2012 11:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug I've only seen a handful of the X-Files; I thought it was OK, though IMO Duchovny is a pretty wooden actor. It's a weird thing how it never occurs to me that many of those older television shows are available to be (re)discovered.

I'm not a huge consumer of SF either. I tend to become enthused about the prospects of encountering interstellar civilizations, cool aliens and cosmic environs, and extrapolated high technology, and less impressed at the authorial results. As per BNW, Earth-bound dystopias seem to generally work better than space operas; perhaps because there's both less to get wrong, and that a dark, dysfunctional future for our planet hardly seems like a far-fetched scenario.

message 8: by Szplug (last edited Jul 22, 2012 11:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug Yeah, Total Recall is a blast, with one of my all-time favorite lines from Arnold and his strangled English: Come on, Cohaagen, you've got what you want. Give these people air! .

The Chronicles of Riddick, Blade Runner, and Alien / Aliens are other SF movies that I will never tire of watching.

Oh, and I can't forget Sunshine . I freaking love this movie in every single way. Kaneda, what can you see!?!?

message 9: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez These X-Files episodes are growing on me. It's no replacement for Twin Peaks, though they definitely tried to market it as such. However, the good episodes so far have been fun. I'm not so much into the anal-probe aliens ones. I like the episodes that deal with the evil gubberment brainwashing people and such. Like you said, stuff on Earth that's not too far-fetched at all. As a combination of both ideas, though, have you ever seen They Live? That movie has the longest, most hilariously awkward and amazing fight scene ever. It's, like, 15 minutes long.

message 10: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Okay, I actually checked, and it's a 7:10 long bar-style brawl. You keep thinking it's going to end, but NOPE. They're totally still fighting.

message 11: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Oh, and I guess I should mention that Brazil is one of my favorite movies ever, ever. See, I like Sci-Fi! Sometimes!

message 12: by Szplug (last edited Jul 22, 2012 11:44AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug I'm not so much into the anal-probe aliens ones.

Come now, Paquita Maria. There's no shame in admitting it.

The dark-ops, secret government aspects were an intriguing angle; and I especially loved that they named that enigmatic, taciturn dude who smoked The Cancer Man. One of the better character names out there.

They Live, with Rowdy Roddy Piper and his cheeseball Alien-uncovering sunglasses? Oh, yeah, that's some good John Carpenter for sure: Him and Keith David slugging it out, he's down, no!, he gets up and hammers the other guy from behind! Repeat ad infinitum.

Piper also has perhaps the first filmic uttering of the classic declaration I came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of bubblegum, and which is perfectly delivered by the Rowdy Dude.

message 13: by Szplug (last edited Jul 22, 2012 12:11PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug Yep, Terry Gilliam has made some incredible movies.

But Sunshine! I needs somebody else to watch it and then hopefully rave about it so that I don't feel so alone in the world. Perhaps you could slip it in between X-Files episodes when the anal probing has bummed you out.

message 14: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Yes! I love that line! Also, I should just throw it out there that, while I agree with you on his pretty sterile X-Files performance, I've a soft spot for Duchovny thanks to his role as Agent Dennis/Denise. However, when he goes into Agent Mulder mackin' on a chick in super-sleaze fashion, it just makes me want to fast-forward. I don't buy it at all. It's like he attended one of those seminars Tom Cruise had in Magnolia. Dude, you're an attractive FBI agent. You don't have to act like a potential sex offender to get a lady's pants off.

message 15: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez I have always meant to watch Sunshine. I dig Aronofsky. I'll slip it in somehow. Twss!

message 16: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Wait, I just checked and he didn't make that movie. I always thought he had. Well, shit.

message 17: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Oh, Danny Boyle. Hmmm. He's pretty hit or miss.

message 18: by Szplug (last edited Jul 22, 2012 11:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug Very nice, PMS—both dissing Duchovny while giving him his props via a perfect Magnolia analogy and the use of that fantastic word mackin'. What can you do in the face of that nugget other than tip your hat?

As for Sunshine, yay! And not to be pedantic, but, yes, it's a Danny Boyle vehicle. We all make such simple mistakes, though. LGM.

message 19: by Szplug (last edited Jul 22, 2012 11:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug Man, your auto-correct made my own pedantry too late to the picnic! Boyle is hit-or-miss, but I'm enamored of that golden ball of fire in the sky, and so was predisposed to love it even before the opening frame. But do give it a try sometime!

message 20: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Problem is, I have thought Aronofsky made that movie for approximately...half a decade? Not a minor slip. This is a years-long misconception. Dope! Anyway, it honestly makes me less excited to see it knowing Danny Boyle directed it. Basically, Trainspotting and 28 Days Later are the only movies I have seen by him that I liked. Not that I've even remotely seen them all, but The Beach? A Life Less Ordinary? Give me an effin break! Maybe Sunshine will be another gem. I loved, loved, loved 28 Days Later, after all.

message 21: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Speaking of Gilliam, I also loved 12 Monkeys, even despite Bruce Willis. How he can be Bruce Willis in an otherwise good movie and not ruin it is just beyond me. Gilliam has made some definitely horrible shit, though, by which I only mean Tideland.

message 22: by Szplug (last edited Jul 22, 2012 12:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug Hey, that's actually my take too: I loved 28 Days Later, and Cilian Murphy's the lead in Sunshine (though Alex Garland also wrote the screenplay, so that might not seem so hot from your POV).

Trainspotting slightly less so, as you can probably understand. But simply as a movie itself, it was fantastic (toilet scenes a la Pynchon? Can't miss!). So those two are in Sunshine's class, IMO, and maybe that's an auspicious sign for you.

message 23: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Yeah, when I read that scene, I was almost angry that more people don't call Welsh out on the plagiarism. Okay, maybe it's not outright plagiarism, but it's damn well close enough!

message 24: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Alex Garland wrote 28 Days Later, though, so I wouldn't be quick to dismiss him or anything.

message 25: by Szplug (last edited Jul 22, 2012 08:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug Yes, Welsh pinched, but it was the best kind of pinching—taking a brilliant scene from a literary classic and crafting a brilliant scene, tweaked for the story, from what's become a sort-of cinematic classic. Some I'm OK with that.

As for 12 Monkeys, not only do I agree with you about Willis—though Pitt's performance still bugs me—but he was also, more or less, himself in The Fifth Element and didn't ruin that one, either. Nor did having Mila Johoandabottleofrumovic doing her thing detract from the quality—that would be left for Chris Tucker.

Have you read any of Garland's books? While the film version of The Beach was pretty ho-hum, I've read several people stating that the book was much better, in every way.* He makes a couple of regrettable plot choices in Sunshine, but eminently forgivable because the entirety is fantastic.

*Though I've since seen that you are not one of them!

message 26: by Ben (new)

Ben Winch Hey, sorry to interrupt - I only glanced at this thread cos I saw Alex Garland and thought, 'There's a name I haven't heard in a while - dude's got potential, maybe he's stopped pissing it against the wall...' But then I saw you'd dissed Duchovny and I had to say something. Duchovny, man! Loved him ever since he played a crossdresser in Twin Peaks. Just saying.

message 27: by Szplug (last edited Jul 23, 2012 08:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug Not so much dissing the man, because, within his limited range, he's effective. It's when, IMO, he tries to go beyond that things get dicey. Mulder grieving over his sister? Yikes. Mulder being taciturn, stoic—or even mildly excited—Mulder? Everything's copacetic.

I will add that I've sparingly watched Twin Peaks, so I have no idea how he fared in that. Maybe playing a cross-dresser brings out the fuller actor latent within?

message 28: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Chris, shame on you! You need to sit down and watch the Peaks! Stat!

message 29: by Szplug (last edited Jul 23, 2012 11:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug I can't get no notifications.

The thing is, I've seen all of Lynch's movies, but very little of his television series. I suppose that I enjoyed the snatches of Twin Peaks I've taken in, with the caveat that I had no clue what was transpiring; but, then again, that's status quo for me with this director. Which is all to say that I've no good reason for this being the case, apart from the fact that it is.

Sit down and watch it, eh? You make it sound so simple.

message 30: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez It is simple!

I do not in any way support watching unauthorized videos on the internet, but if I did, putlocker would probably be my favorite website ever, and I would most likely be watching my X-Files episodes that way. Not that I am or have. Ever.

message 31: by Szplug (last edited Jul 23, 2012 09:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug Thanks! (There previously existed a slew of silliness that followed, but which—upon the subsequent reflection of its not really saying anything—was skizzered right the heck out of there).

message 32: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez That's how you roll!

message 33: by Szplug (last edited Jul 23, 2012 10:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Szplug Oh, man, don't you know it. Leopards, old dogs, some things, Chris Sastre—pretty soon (maybe already!) my name will be attached to those other three standards.

message 34: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez We all have our quirks. Wear it with pride!

Szplug Oh, I suppose I do in my own roseate fashion. Besides, if I can bring about a little ditty along the lines of A Sastre can't can't stop giving his comments the chop, well that's a brush with immortality, isn't it?

BTW, maybe you can answer something I've long wondered about: do you get emails informing you of commments in threads you are watching? And if you do, does the email maintain a record of the original comment, so that all those scissor kicks aren't reflected?

message 36: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Yes, I believe the emails do contain the text of the comments made, or at least the comments made up until the point when you visit the thread again...or something? I don't know, I have my gr email set to not send me anything except for when I get a private message, and otherwise I rely on notifications.

Szplug Thanks. I don't get emails for anything, so I have no idea, but I don't see how any subsequent changes could be reflected in the message sent; so there might be two separate versions kicking around. If you are paranoid, I guess it's best not to post until you've ironed out what you wish to say...

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