I return to the universe of Alastair Reynold’s space opera this week, with a story that ties directly into Revelation Space, though it also ties into the expanded universe as glimpsed in Chasm City.
The Inhibitors are back, they are an ancient mechanical race that prunes back intelligent life, stopping them when they venture too far into the universe, and exhibit too many technological advances.
We encounter some of the characters we met in Revelation Space, and are introduced to all new ones as well. The starship Nostalgia For Infinity is at the heart of this story, Ilia and Ana are back, hoping to evacuate the world of Resurgam before the Inhibitors (or Wolves as they are known among some) arrive and destroy their world.
The Nostalgia also has a massive collection of dangerous hell-class weapons, which are programmed with a bit of free will.
One collection of humanity, augmented with neural interfaces, known as Conjoiners created the weapons, and inertia-suppression engines decades ago, all in preparation for what they knew was coming, thanks to some quantum entanglement experiments which allowed for messages from possible futures to reach them.
Led by a woman known as Skade, they want those weapons back for themselves, and damn the rest of humanity. Clavain, a fellow Conjoiner, defects and is determined to reach the weapons first, and use them for the benefit of all humanity against the Wolves.
But Ilia and Ana have their own plans, and as mentioned, the weapons may make a few decisions themselves.
There’s a lot going on in this massive book, and as mentioned in the title, a lot of it centres around characters’ need for redemption.
I love how Reynolds takes his time with his story, letting us get to know all the characters, their motivations, and letting us see all the sides of an argument. And while this one doesn’t quite end on a cliffhanger, humanity’s future is still very much in doubt as the book comes to a close, and the Wolves are still out there, intent on stopping our existence.
But even they have a reason for what they are doing.
There are betrayals, rescues, battles, friendships, and discoveries, all of it works perfectly in Reynolds’ fascinating universe, and I love how the story plays out. There’s a reality to the realms he has created, and the adventure he takes the reader on is epic in scope.
I’ll be digging into the next book soon, as I have to know what happens, as well as catch up with old friends, and meet new ones.
The Revelation Space universe is dark, and frightening, but the characters at the story’s core are undeniably human, and relatable.
A great read.