Revelation Space (Revelation Space #1) ★★★★☆

revelationspace (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Revelation Space
Series: Revelation Space #1
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 596
Format: Digital Edition



An archeologist on the world of Resurgam is trying to prove that the extinct inhabitants of the planet had gotten to the technological standpoint of space travel. The rest of the colony just wants to terraform the world so they can live. A coup occurs and the archeologist, Dan Sylveste, is imprisoned and yet given enough freedom to perform his research. He eventually proves his theories right but still hasn’t answered how the aliens went extinct.

Ana Khouri, separated from her husband in a military accident and sent to the wrong world, has become an assassin for the near immortal rich in Chasm City. She’s hired by Madam to go and kill Sylveste. Khouri is hired by some Ultra’s (space goths from what I could tell who love to meddle with their bodies) who are on their way to Resurgam as well. They want Sylveste as well, to heal their captain, who is being taken over by some sort of viral plague that is melding him to the ship.

The Ultras kidnap Silvestre and his wife, while Khouri must deal with a digital avatar of the Madam in her head. Also on board the ship, is a shadowy something called Sun Stealer, which drove Khouri’s predecessor insanse. Sun Stealer is also the name of the being on the final monument of the aliens on Resurgam. Sylvestre also has the digital recording of his dead father in his head. Good times.

Turns out there is a dead species of aliens who lived to make sure no other species ever reached a certain technological level. They left artifacts scattered around the universe that would lead to the destruction of any species that interacted with them and that is what lead to the destruction of life on Resurgam.

The humans are all being manipulated by various alien factions to use the device so humanity will be the next target and draw away attention from them. Things don’t go according to the aliens plans and the humans survive and now know about the traps.Silvestre and his wife decide to stay on the artifact as digital incarnations while Khouri and the lone surviving Ultra head back to human space.

Hopefully to warn everyone. We aren’t told.


My Thoughts:

This was a VERY complex storyline, hence my rather inarticulate ramble of a synopsis. The universe that Reynolds has created reminds me a lot of Neal Asher’s Polity and Asher’s fascination with the Jain, long dead aliens inimical to all other lifeforms. Here Reynolds calls them the Inhibitors but it is not until nearly the end that we find out about them clearly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Unfortunately, most of the characters were rather unlikeable so my enjoyment was tempered by disgust. Khouri was the least objectionable person but she was a pawn for almost all of the book. I would say the ideas and the storyline were able to overcome the characters. That doesn’t happen very often for me.

After reading this, I feel like I have a decent grasp on modern Space Opera. Between Revelation Space, The Polity and The Culture, I can say it is something that I really like when it is done according to my tastes. I was apprehensive about starting this series, as I ended up disliking Banks’ The Culture book quite a bit. Thankfully this seemed to be more in line with The Polity, a series that I’m pretty in love with.

The inclusion of techno-porn (ie, the abundant description of technologies above and beyond the call of duty) did make me skip whole paragrapsh while reading. From a layman’s perspective, talking about that kind of thing does nothing for me and is just babble. So I skip it. It also tends to date your book for those who do know what you’re writing about, as theories go out of style like fashion. Sometimes being a little vague is ok.

I tore through this in about 3 days. Started it on a Thursday evening and finished it up by reading all day Saturday. I’m glad I’ve got all 7 novels in the series lined up. I hope the others live up to this one.



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37 thoughts on “Revelation Space (Revelation Space #1) ★★★★☆

  1. I really liked this back in the days, and I think the series get better. Sadly, imo Reynolds has lost his creative power since, as he started writing for a living, producing books at a tempo that doesn’t enhance quality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that was actually how I ran across your blog 😀 I was searching for “revelation space”.

      I read his “Best of” a couple of years ago and was really impressed but with my reading schedule it takes about 2 years to work new things in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right now, I’m reading the Echo series by Kent Wayne (pen name). Actually, I read “Echo I: Approaching Shatter” and reviewed it over two years ago, and it’s taken me this long to re-read it and then start on the second novel. I’ve been promising him I’d get to it, but other books kept interfering.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Banks is all yours. I hated his stuff, so I’m just thankful Reynolds is working out for me. I figure that Banks, Reynolds and Asher make a good space opera triumvirate, so me liking 2 of the 3 is a win 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s been a long, long time since I read this (it sits on my shelf in physical book form, something of a nostalgic rarity for me these days 😀 ) and though I remember the complexity in plot, I did enjoy it and its sequels and now feel the need to revisit it to refresh my memory….

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve read some Banks, and enjoyed most of what I read (and I still have a good number of Culture books on my virtual shelf I intend to read someday), while I did try one Asher book but I found it somewhat confusing, too tech-oriented for my tastes.
        Does that help in your comparison?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I checked my spam folder and nothing was there, so I have no idea what could have happened either.

      For whatever reason, I like aliens trying to wipe out humanity, especially if they’re long dead aliens and its technology that is boobytrapped. Neal Asher has done/ is doing the same thing with aliens called the Jain in his Polity universe.

      I just hope this Revelation Space series keeps going so well for me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Perhaps modern space opera isn’t for me. I don’t share your love for Asher, and I read a Reynolds novella called “Slow Bullets” which I didn’t like (I need to blog about it one day). I have the first culture novel on my shelf and may get to it soon.

    Interesting that all three of the authors you mentioned are British (I think). I’m beginning to suspect that there’s something I don’t like about modern British SF authors, but it’s been a while since I’ve read one and I can’t put my finger on my reasons (other than unnecessary digs at religious people).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. re: modern brits. That is a very true observation about them and religious jabs. I know I’ve given up on several just because of that.

      In regards to modern space opera, I can’t remember, have you read the Expanse books? I didn’t continue that series due to the inclusion of a homosexual religious leader as the token “religious” person but other than that I was pretty ok with the series. If you have tried it and it wasn’t for you, maybe modern space opera really isn’t for you. If it isn’t for you, don’t bang your head against a wall trying to “like” something you just don’t 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read the first Expanse book, had mixed feelings, and didn’t continue. There would be one plot/character line that I’d follow with interest, but it would alternate with another that bored me. Maybe that’s an effect of the two-person writing team, because I like one author’s style and not the other’s. Or, maybe it’s just something about the different storylines.

        I don’t think I’ll give up on space opera just yet. I’m planning to try the one from Banks, and if I hate it, I may give up on British space opera. There’s a series (again, I need to blog about it) by an American author that I enjoy, but he only puts out a book every two years. Until the latest book, I enjoyed Spiral Wars, which is by an Australian. Galaxy’s Edge, which I recently blogged about, has space opera elements, but is also military SF.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The Spiral Wars has bogged down, that is for sure. I really enjoyed it but have stopped expecting anything from it anymore.

          I just added Galaxy’s Edge so I’m hoping to get to it in the next year or so. It struck me as much more Mil-SF than space opera.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’d say the Galaxy’s Edge books are in general, much more military than space opera, but the balance differs from book to book. Book 1 is military-heavy, book two more space opera, book three mixes in some spy thriller stuff with the military, then books 4 and 5 are back to heavily military…

            Liked by 1 person

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