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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Review: Redemption Ark

Redemption Ark (dead tree edition) is Alastair Reynold's third novel in the Revelation Space universe.

This novel introduces Nevil Clavain, one of the original Conjoiners who fled the Solar System ages ago (in a back-story that's revealed in Galactic North). One of the best things about the series is that the science is impeccable. We have explorations of inertia, of relativistic interstellar combat and tactics, and an amazing amount of exposition that's not very neatly hidden amongst the conversations between the characters.

Yet the characters, I feel, are the best Reynold's has come up with yet --- they're still wooden, but at least their motivations are sensible. Even more interesting, the presence of the Inhibitors (Reynold's answer to the Fermi Paradox) is explained well, and a far more interesting answer than I expected. We do get an explanation about the hell-classed weapons that were presented but not explained as part of Revelation Space, and some of the characters from both that novel and Chasm City show up as well, though not in such a way that you'll need to read those two novels before reading this one (but those novels are recommended, so you might as well read them).

While other books in the series have been self-contained, this one does manage to end in a very bad place --- a place that leaves you wanting to flip the Kindle over to the store and click the buy button for Absolution Gap. The reviews on that novel, however, are leaving me cold, so I'll check it out of the library. Nevertheless, Redemption Ark is highly recommended --- old fashioned science fiction that doesn't leave out the science and gives you the good old tingly sense of wonder that science fiction is supposed to provide!

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