The Melancholia of Departure was one of the smaller, vacuum-only shuttles carried aboard its mothership, the lighthugger Nostalgia for Infinity.

It was used by Ilia Volyova and fellow crew members for ferrying supplies and passengers between the lighthugger and the carousels of the Rust Belt in Yellowstone orbit.

Description Edit

"We've a shuttle docked at the hub," Volyova said. "We'll just need to take a spoke elevator andclear outbound customs."


Before very long they reached the hub, cleared customs and boarded the shuttle, a nonatmospheric craft consisting of a sphere with four thruster pods splayed out at right angles. The ship was called the Melancholia of Departure, the kind of ironic name Ultras favoured for their craft. The interior had the ribbed look of a whale's gut. Volyova told her to go forward through a series of bulkheads and gullet-like crawlspaces until they reached the thing's bridge. There were a few bucket seats, together with a console displaying reams of avionics gibberish, latticed by delicate entoptics.

Volyova thumbed one of the visual readouts, causing a small, traylike device to chug out of a black recess in the side of the console. The tray was gridded with an oldstyle keyboard. Volyova's fingers danced on the keys, causing a subtle change to sweep through the avionics data. Khouri realised with a tingling feeling that the woman had no implants; that her fingers were actually one of the ways by which she communicated.
"Buckle in," Volyova said. "There's so much garbage floating round Yellowstone we might have to pull some gee-loads."

- excerpt from chapter 5 of Revelation Space [1]

Appearances Edit


  • The small ship's name is an obvious variation on the "theme naming" seen in the name of its mothership. The Melancholia is also the only shuttle of the Nostalgia known by name.
  • The spherical design of the shuttle, aside from being generally very practical in a vacuum environment, bears a striking similarity to the Aries Ib class shuttles of the Space odyssey series, authored by Arthur C. Clarke and first adapted to film by Stanley Kubrick. Alastair Reynolds is a self-confessed old fan of Clarke's body of work, so the chosen shape might also be a bit of a nod.


  1. Revelation Space (2000), chapter 5

See also Edit

Civilian shuttles/small craft: Trike | Tug | Cutter | Spherical shuttle | Flotilla excursion shuttle
Police shuttles/small craft: Panoply cutter
Individual shuttles/small craft: Melancholia of Departure (spherical shuttle)
Remontoire's 'Trident' fighter (outrigger fightercraft)
Coalition shuttle | Flotilla delta-winged shuttle
Cutter | "Claw" shuttle | Lighthugger orbital shuttle
Individual atmo-shuttles: Scavenger's Daughter | Dominatrix
Civilian ships: Freighter | Liner | Hospital ship | Lighthugger in-system craft
Police and military ships: Deep-system cruiser
Demarchist military vessel | Conjoiner ''Moray''-class corvette
Individual ships: Bellatrix | Democratic Circus | High Catherine
Nightingale | Storm Bird | Universal Suffrage
Generation ships - Flotilla ships: Santiago, Islamabad, Brazilia, Palestine, Baghdad
Ramscoop starships - Atalanta
Lighthuggers - List (Sandra Voi, Nostalgia for Infinity, Zodiacal Light, Nightshade, Hirondelle, Petronel, etc.)
Alien starships - Void warren ("Caleuche")
Antimatter engines | Ramscoop | Conjoiner Drive | Stealth Conjoiner Drive
Dark Drive | Inertia-suppression Machinery | Cryo-arithmetic engine
Magnetic railgun | Boser | Ack-am | Foam-phase Munition | Pin-head munitions
Camouflaging screens | Hypometric weapon | Bladder-mine

* - capable only of flight in the vacuum of space
** - double as both spacecraft and aircraft, depending on the need
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