Revelation Space (Revelation Space #1)
by Alastair Reynolds.
This was recommended to me by a friend back in August, and I finally got around to reading it. It tells the story, mainly, of one Dan Sylveste, an interstellar scientist bent on figuring out what happened to the long-dead Amarantin alien race. Something destroyed them almost a million years ago, and Sylveste has the more-than-nagging suspicion humanity is in danger of the same. He’s up against not just the clock, but also a scientific community that has lost faith in him, a less-than-human starship crew that has its own agenda, an assassin sent through the lightyears, and the AI ghost of his own father. Very little is as it first seems, and the truth of Amarantin history is something nobody ever could’ve imagined.
This got off to a slow start for me, but once I got about 75-100 pages in it picked up and I was hooked. That’s also, coincidentally, about where all the disparate characters and plot lines start converging. The book is all in 3rd person, but the narration jumps around pretty frequently to follow different characters’ thoughts and actions- mainly Sylveste, a starship crew member, and the assassin. The characters were at least interesting, even if they weren’t all that complex or layered. Sylveste was probably the most interesting, as he’s a genius and a bit of a bastard but also generally right. The overall mystery was well paced and intriguing, and not (like some ‘mysteries’) completely obvious.
My main issue with this book was that it got very bogged down in technical science stuff that a) wasn’t necessary for the story and b) wasn’t interesting in its own right (at least to me). Yes, I realize it’s science fiction, but I’ve read good science fiction where that aspect is handled much better. The other issue was the ending. I’m not really sure how to describe what my issue was with it. It made sense, I guess, but I also feel like the author kind of threw science out the window at that point, because it felt a lot more like a magic save ending than a realistic one for that universe. It didn’t seem to fit the established structure. It is only book #1 in the series, so I don’t know if threads of it will be picked up and refined in book #2, but we’ll see.