Humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) form the bulk of viewpoint characters in the Revelation Space universe. The original homeworld of their species is planet Earth in the Solar System, later also referred to as the First System. Humanity had become a spacefaring species in the 20th century, conducted Solar System exploration and colonisation in the 21st and 22nd centuries, and early experiments into interstellar flight in the 22nd century.
Early in the 23rd century, a certain faction of humans discovered a new method of much faster interstellar propulsion and created the first lighthugger spacecraft. Though the invention of lighthuggers greatly sped up interstellar voayges and made older attempts at manned interstellar spacecraft obsolete in terms of performance, even lighthuggers are unable to cross the natural barrier of the speed of light. Lighthuggers can, at a maximum, accelerate to near the speed of light, but are incapable of breaking the light barrier.
This necessitated a fairly decentralised pattern of interstellar settlement, where each planetary system colonised by humans is governed separately by necessity, due to the decades of relativistic travel time required for a voyage even between "very close" systems. Due to these natural limitations forced by the light-speed barrier, it is simply not possible to establish a central government for several planetary systems simultaneously. The various human interstellar colonies therefore have wildly divergent politics, societies and economies. Nevertheless, interstellar trade, exchange of knowledge and occassional long-term moves to other systems are a regular occurence in the Revelation Space universe.
By the era in which much of the events of the Revelation Space universe are set, humanity had ideologically and socially divided itself into several overarching factions. These differ in their worldviews and lifestyles with regards to transhumanism, the physical and mental augmentation of their bodies.
Much of the Inhibitor trilogy of the Revelation Space series deals with the topic of humans being only a recent, "young" star-faring civilisation, and being rather inexperienced and ill-prepared to deal with threats lurking in the wider Galaxy, left over from its more ancient times. Central to these mysteries and threats is the apparent answer to the Fermi paradox human thinkers have long struggled with - 'where are all the alien civilisations ?'. Most civilisations found by humanity via interstellar colonisation are long-dead, extinct, often due to some unexplained catastrophe. Most of the alien lifeforms encountered by humans are equivalent to non-sapient flora and fauna, or highly alien lifeforms that are hard to specify into anything equivalent to Earth categories of life.
Factions of humanity in the Revelation Space universe
Though much of human-settled space has some association with these factions or feels their influence, not all human-settled planets and systems are under their rule or jurisdiction. For example, some planetary colonies - especially old ones like Sky's Edge - are functionally independent from the factions, and often have their own equivalents of nation states or civic states, which developed from minor factions or movements of the original colonists.
Of the major factions of humanity, Demarchists and Ultranauts are more prone to mingle with other groups and governments of humanity, outside of their own, while Conjoiners and Skyjacks are much more inward-looking, secretive and rather divorced from the rest of humanity.
Humans have genetically modified either their own species, or a handful of other mammalian species originating on Earth, to a more humanoid form or a more human-like level of sapience. These species are:
- Denizens (derived from humans, era of Solar System colonisation and later remnants)
- Dolphins (some early interstellar colonisation attempts, via the Flotilla)
- Hyperpigs (motivation behind their creation lost to time, greatly humanoid)
- Hyperprimates (uplifted in overall intelligence)
To see a closer list of various human characters, please read the individual articles on humanity's factions and other human organisations and groups.
As a species, humans appear in every single work of the Revelation Space series. In the individual works, they represent the majority of the characters, and in some stories (e.g. Dilation Sleep, Weather, etc.) the only characters.
|Species and lifeforms|
|Sapient species: Humans | Denizens* | Hyperpigs* | Hyperprimates*|
|Other species: Earth flora | Earth fauna|
|Amarantin | Grubs | Inhibitors ("Wolves") | Jumper Clowns |
Nestbuilders | Scuttlers | Shrouders | Slugs
|ALIEN CREATURES AND LIFEFORMS|
|Hamadryad | Pattern Jugglers** |
Screech Mat | Setterholm’s Worms | Slime Scraper
* - created via genetic engineering
** - colony lifeforms of dubious classification