Inhibitor Phase (2021) – Alastair Reynolds

Orbit Books was kind enough to invite me back to Revelation Space with Alastair Reynolds’ latest novel set in that far flung universe. And once again, he proves himself not only a solid storyteller, but able to constantly meld high space opera with hard-edged sci-fi.

The novel, though well able to stand on its own, is best enjoyed in the company of the other Revelation Space novels because you recognize places, names, and begin to see how everything all ties together.

This one took me to a lot of fun places, and it pleasantly surprised me, because the blurb on the back of the book, the tease, or hook, if you will, didn’t venture past anything that happened in the first fifty odd pages. And I loved that, you simply buckle in for Reynolds’ tale, and let him weave the story around you.

We join Miguel and his family on a remote, unwelcoming world, where a small cluster of humanity is hiding from the Inhibtors, also known as wolves, who have pushed us back into caves, wiping us out wherever they find us, detecting our technology, and destroying us.

When he recovers a woman from a ship that has entered the system, she blackmails him and launches him on a journey that he is not prepared for.

Reynolds delivers a sprawling tale that never loses its human touch, we’re always reminded of the cost of the adventure Miguel finds himself on, and what he loses of himself along the way. From the crumbling remains of Chasm City to the oceans of the Pattern Jugglers to a far distant planet that may hold the key to a weapon against the wolves, the journey is both epic, and intimately personal.

I don’t want to get into spoilers, and talk about who shows up, or what, or where, beyond what I’ve already mentioned, but it was fantastic the universe Reynolds has created and invites us back into over and over.

It’s been a while since I read the other books in the Revelation Space series, but when we stumble across something or someone that has appeared in other stories and my memory cottoned to who they were, I would delight in their appearance.

I revel in how much I enjoy these novels. In fact, once I slip into the narrative, and settle in to Reynolds literary style, this is one of the books that I no longer see the words, it’s just an experience for me. And I love it! When I was younger, even into my early twenties the only science fiction novels I was interested in were Trek and Wars, and the occasional Arthur C. Clarke and Herbert. I find as I grow older I’m enjoying more and more science fiction, and authors like Reynolds have found their way on to my favorites list.

I eagerly anticipate his next piece; can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

If you haven’t read any of the Revelation Space novels, and enjoy some hard science fiction filled with great action beats, check out the entire series from Orbit Books. Inhibitor Phase, and the other Revelation Space titles are available now! Check them out!!

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