Absolution Gap (2003) – Alastair Reynolds

I return to Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space universe this week, with this, the third novel in the ongoing storyline involving the Inhibitors and the struggle of humanity, in all its forms, to escape extinction.

We are introduced to a slew of new characters in this titanic space opera, while reacquainting ourselves with old friends. The haunted decks of the Nostalgia For Infinity invite us back aboard, as the temporary colony on Ararat must get ready for departure. Things are happening in-system. Old enemies are back, and not so very far behind them, the mechanistic creation known as the Inhibitors, or Wolves, are seeking to cull any humanity it comes across.

Meanwhile, on a distant planet, a caravan of mobile cathedrals are following the path of the gas giant above them with a religious fervour, those aboard have their eyes on it at all times… because on occasion, it vanishes.

Thrust into this tale, is an unborn girl with a powerful gift, and her abilities may be key to what happens next for our old friends Khouri, Clavain and Scorp.

Like the previous tales in the series, there are leaps backward and forward in time and space, to allow for relativistic travel and storytelling, and not all of our friends, or our enemies are going to survive the tale.

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And even as the human race runs, while throwing everything it has against the oncoming, though failing Inhibitors, they discover that there may be other civilisations out there. Civilisations that have been able to elude the technology culling directive of the Wolves.

In fact, there may in fact be other universes out there attempting contact, and offering help if we simply let them in.

There’s a lot going on in this book, and its epic size took me a little longer to get through than other comparable books have of late. I’m not sure what it was about this one, but it just felt like it took me a lot longer to get through than it should have. I still delight in this universe that Reynolds created, it’s just that this time around, the story didn’t suck me right in like Reynolds’ previous tales in the same universe.

There were times when the novel spent time with some of the new characters, and I would be more interested in getting back to Scorp, Khouri, or the ship. I just wasn’t as wrapped up in it as I had been in previous tales.

Now that may be a reflection of the times we’re in – I’m writing this on 28 March, I’ve been in lockdown for almost a week because I’m self-isolating because of the virus (I know what you’re thinking, lots of time to read) and perhaps the material was too heavy for the times we’re living in.

Good thing I’ve got more books on the shelf to read. Though I eagerly anticipate returning to the universe Reynolds has created.

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