UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: Revelation Space
Revelation Space Revelation Space

Alastair Reynolds
ISBN 9781857987485 (1857987489)
Gollancz, 2001

Category: Fiction

Where were you on September 11th? I was in LA waiting for a United Airlines flight - thankfully, not one of the two that hit the World Trade Center: ours wasn't due until September 13th. But I was reading this book:

'A splendidly inept thing,' Sylveste said, nodding despite himself.
'The human capacity for grief. It just isn't capable of providing an adequate emotional response once the dead exceed a few dozen in number. And it doesn't just level off - it just gives up, resets itself to zero. Admit it. None of us gives a damn about these people.' Sylveste looked at the map, wondering what it must have been like... (p.297-98)

The circumstances: terrorism on a galactic scale. An entire township reduced to molten slag by a death ray from space because the people on the planet hadn't handed over the man the people with the power wanted.

Revelation Space isn't comfortable reading. Reynolds has created no likeable characters for the reader to indentify with - just the bad guys fighting the bad guys. And in setting the scene like this he presents us with a reality that none of us, surely, wants to accept: there are no good guys in politics and terrorism, just individuals convinced of their own righteousness, ruthlessly pursuing their own ends. But it may be a reality we have to recognize before the current world crisis comes to an end.

That's just one part of the story. The whole book is space opera on an epic scale. It will grip you, take you into the unknown and force you to reassess the known, especially at the boundaries of life and death. Revelation Space is not so much a book to read as to experience.

Phil Groom, October 2001

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

Previously published by London School of Theology. Reused here by kind permission.

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