Monday, April 11, 2011

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

New Space Opera has been an exciting development for me.  Although many quality science fiction books have appeared in recent years, the field went through a time where the stories were internally focused.  Philip K. Dick was one of the pioneers of this type of science fiction.  Read his “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”.  The story is very tightly focused.  It is one of my favorite novels.  But, like most things in life, a steady diet of that type of fiction tends to overload my senses.  I like to switch between the Philip K. Dick novels and the galactic adventures that dominated the field for many years.  Some of my favorite early reading fiction experiences was the Lensman series by E. E. “Doc” Smith.  Another was the classic multi-author serial “Cosmos”.  Many of the old school space operas were not exactly high quality literature.  But they did generate a level of excitement that George Lucas tapped in to when he filmed “Star Wars”.  In response to the lack of epic stories, a new British invasion arrived.  The New Space Opera movement was born. 

I consider this the centerpiece of the new space opera sub-genre.  Alastair Reynolds created a memorable novel with his first book.  Reynolds included more ideas in this book than many authors put in a whole series.  If I had to compare “Revelation Space” to existing fiction works I would say it is a mix of the grand epic of “Dune” with the wild imagination of H. P. Lovecraft.  My only complaint is with the length.  Being a fan of the shorter novels (practically novellas) of the past, I sometimes need to take a break when reading the massive novels of modern science fiction and fantasy.  “Revelation Space” held my interest when I was reading but I tended to drift to other novels once I put it down.  “Dune” was one of the rare novels that kept pulling me back in despite the amount of pages I still had to read.  “Revelation Space” is a well written first novel that I would recommend to fans of new space opera.  I can’t wait to read the future books in this series. 

I am taking a break from this series to read one of his standalone novels (“House of Suns”).  After that I plan on returning to this universe to check out “Chasm City”.  If you want to sample this universe at a shorter length, try his “Great Wall of Mars”. 


adamosf said...

Alastair Reynolds is one of my favorite current writers (along with Jack McDevitt), and his entire Revelation Space trilogy is worthwhile. The 3 novels in the series have separate plots entirely, while still having the continuing thread in the background.

I am currently reading Century Rain, which I am enjoying very much. His short fiction collections are also highly recommended. Galactic North is tangentially related to Revelation Space, being set in the same universe.

Carl V. Anderson said...

Chasm City was great. It was my first (and thus far only) Alastair Reynolds book. I have a copy of Revelation Space and a few other books of his on my shelves and I really need to get to them.