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Revelation Space

Author Alastair Reynolds Cover artist Chris Moore Country Wales Language English Series Revelation Space Genre(s) Hard sci-fi novel Publisher Gollancz Publication date 31 December 2002 Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback) Pages 560 pp ISBN ISBN 1857987489 Followed by Redemption Ark Revelation Space is a 2000 hard science fiction space opera novel by Welsh author Alastair Reynolds. It was the first novel set in what became known as the Revelation Space universe, although the then-unnamed universe had already been established by several published short stories.

Revelation Space was followed in publication by Chasm City, a stand-alone novel which was set earlier in the universe's timeline but wasn't strictly a prequel. Chasm City was followed by Redemption Ark, which was a direct sequel both to Revelation Space and Chasm City.


[edit] Plot summary On the planet Resurgam, archaeologist and scion of House Sylveste, Dan Sylveste, is engaged in an archaeological dig, researching a species known as the Amarantin and cause of their apparent mass extinction, dubbed "the Event". Sylveste also has a lingering interest in the Shrouders, strange aliens who fortress themselves inside impenetrable artificially curved spacetime. He has to face several political problems on the colony, including a power struggle between the archaeologists and those interested in terraforming the planet to make it more habitable. Eventually Dan Sylveste is arrested and imprisoned during a coup.

Meanwhile, aboard the lighthugger Nostalgia for Infinity, Triumvir Ilia Volyova — an Ultranaut — is having problems both with her new Gunnery Officer who has gone insane, and with the Captain John Brannigan, who is infected with the Melding Plague. Volyova slows the Plague by keeping the Captain and the Plague frozen. Plus, the ship is carrying a cache of 40 "Hell class" weapons that the crew found in a deserted area of space. The weapons have destructive capabilities beyond measure; one such weapon is able to make stars go nova, thereby destroying them.

On Yellowstone, in Chasm City, ex-soldier Ana Khouri from Sky's Edge, separated and sent here away from her husband thanks to a clerical error, works for the company Shadowplay, an organization that lets the wealthy take out assassination contracts on themselves, so they can brag about the experience should they survive.

On the Nostalgia, Volyova ends up killing the crazed Gunnery Officer, Nagorny, and disguises his death as a malfunction of his reefersleep casket. The ship is en route to Yellowstone to look for Dan Sylveste, who is to able channel a Beta level of his dead father, Calvin Sylveste. Calvin is the only person with enough medical and technological expertise to have a chance at curing the Captain of the Melding Plague. Unfortunately they are too late; Dan had left on an archaeological expedition to Resurgam decades earlier. While the Nostalgia is on Yellowstone, Volyova decides to look for a new Gunnery Officer.

Ana Khouri is kidnapped by the mysterious Mademoiselle and given a mission to terminate Dan Sylveste, for an as-yet unstated reason. When the crew of the Nostalgia for Infinity decides to head for Resurgam to look for Sylveste, the Mademoiselle manipulates Volyova's search procedures for a Gunnery Officer to let Khouri infiltrate the crew.

Unbeknownst to Volyova, Ana Khouri is carrying a digital representation of the Mademoiselle in her head, which encounters the mysterious digital entity "Sun Stealer" hidden in the computer of the ship's weapons network. Sun Stealer cannot exit the weapons system undetected due to a firewall intended to prevent remote takeover of the ship's defences. However, once Khouri accesses the weaponry, her neural implants offer the Sun Stealer an escape route. The Mademoiselle fights a digital battle against Sun Stealer for the duration of the trip to Resurgam inside Khouri's implants.

Upon arrival at Resurgam, the crew discovers that Sylveste has been captured by the new government of Resurgam and coerce the fledgling government into handing Sylveste over. Once aboard the Nostalgia, Sylveste is then able to hijack the entire ship by revealing that his implants are carrying antimatter, which he threatens to detonate should the crew not comply with his wishes. He instructs them to move the Nostalgia along the final trip to the nearby neutron star Hades and the strange camouflaged artificial planet Cerberus that orbits it. At this point, they debate as to whether or not they should attempt to enter Cerberus. Khouri has been informed by the Mademoiselle that Cerberus contains an Inhibitor beacon, and argues against any further approach to Cerberus. The dispute becomes increasingly violent, until Volyova commences an attack upon Cerberus.

Before the crew can progress any further, the Sun Stealer succeeds in taking over the ship's computers and is preparing to attack them. Volyova and Khouri realize that the Sun Stealer's function is to attract the attention of the Inhibitors: he is a digital envoy of the mysterious Shrouders, who sent envoys such as the Sun Stealer out to attract the Inhibitors' attention using the beacons- if the Inhibitors responded, then it was still too dangerous to leave their spacetime fortresses. Realizing that alerting the Inhibitors would spell the end of humanity, Volyova and Khouri attempt to stop Sylveste from reaching the beacon in Cerberus.

The pair are ultimately unsuccessful, and Sylveste penetrates Cerberus's defence systems (Cerberus is revealed to be have been built by aliens to deter other species from reaching the Inhibitor beacon at the centre). Dan Sylveste and the simulation of his father Calvin are scanned as they enter the centre, and copies of them are reawakened inside the Hades Matrix, revealed to be a vast alien computer. Khouri is crushed by the gravity of the neutron star Hades, but has also been recreated digitally within the Hades computer matrix, while Volyova has returned to the Nostalgia for Infinity. Finally realizing that he has been tricked by the Sun Stealer, the original Sylveste detonates the antimatter in his implants, sacrificing his physical self in a last attempt to stop the Inhibitors from awakening.

Khouri is released by the Hades Matrix and returns to Nostalgia for Infinity, where she finds the Sun Stealer has been defeated- Volyova deactivated the freezer units holding the Melding Plague at bay, allowing the plague to subsume the entire ship. With the Sun Stealer destroyed, and Sylveste now existing as a simulation in the Hades matrix, Khouri and Volyova leave on the Nostalgia for Infinity, unaware that the Inhibitors have, in fact, been awakened.


[edit] Publication history As this was Alastair Reynolds's first published hardback fiction, and was published in a relatively small initial print run in the United Kingdom, it subsequently became one of the most collectible first editions of the decade.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revelation_space

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