From the Reading Chair: Alastair Reynolds
Alastair Reynolds is a Welsh astrophysicist who writes spectacular stories and novels about the future. A future where there are several types of humans, and not all of them get along. Interstellar travel is possible; it will take a while, even on a lighthugger, traveling just under light speed. Orbital habitats form the Glitter Band above the planet Yellowstone in the Epsilon Eridani system, all doomed. They just don’t know it yet.
Revelation Space, Reynolds’ first novel, gives his collection of stories and rich novels its name. The big question in this novel is: after humans discover physical evidence of other life forms, other civilizations, where did they all go? Set in the distant past and far future, this big novel moves quickly. There are related novels and story collections, though they are not sequels.
Chasm City, named after a domed city on the inhospitable planet Yellowstone, was published next. It is the story of the fall of the Glitter Band, spread by a nano virus that raged through Chasm City, rendering it a quite nasty place. It is home to Tanner Mirabel, a security specialist, who comes to Chasm City in pursuit of an assassin. If the denizens of the Undergrowth, human and hyper-pig, don’t get him first.
Redemption Ark followed in 2002 takes place fifty years after the first. Humans in the first novel triggered an ancient alien system that warns of the emergence of intelligence in this sector of the galaxy. Now the response, from the Inhibitors, is on the way. Cojoiners, the hive minded specie of humans, are looking for a cache of doomsday weapons which played a role in the first novel: Triumvir Volyova controls the weapons and has other plans for them O yeah: the weapons themselves may have plans of their own.
Absolution Gap concludes the story of the Inhibitors told in Revelation Space and Redemption Ark . Immense travelling cathedrals traverse the surface of Rela, a nondescript moon. Ships and characters converge on the moon because the answer is down there, while the cathedrals converge on the planet spanning Absolution Gap in the landscape.
The Prefect is a police procedural set in the Revelation Space universe. Tom Dreyfus is a law-enforcement officer. His beat is the Glitter Band, the habitats above Yellowstone. He is investigating the murder of over nine hundred people during an attack on one of the habitats. Dreyfus finds there is more to the story than mass murder: total control of the Glitter Band.
These novels and his other works prove Reynolds' versatility and mastery of pacing and characterization in fiction. His work is highly recommended. They are available at your local branch, and you can reserve them online. Just have your library card handy.