Friday, February 4, 2011

Redemption Ark

Redemption Ark by Alastair Reynolds
Penguin Group, copyright 2002
Mass Market Paperback, 704 pages
Revelation Space Series #2
ISBN-13: 9780441011735
very highly recommended

From the Publisher
Late in the twenty-sixth century, the human race has advanced enough to accidentally trigger the Inhibitors - alien killing machines designed to detect intelligent life and destroy it. The only hope for humanity lies in the recovery of a secret cache of doomsday weapons - and a renegade named Clavain is determined to find them. But other factions want the weapons for their own purposes - and the weapons themselves have another agenda altogether...

My Thoughts:

Redemption Ark by Alastair Reynolds is the sequel to Revelation Space and the second book in the Revelation Space space-opera trilogy. The main focus of Redemption Ark is the retrieval of the "hell-class" weapons that are aboard the ship Nostalgia for Infinity in order to stop the Inhibitors, a race of killing machines whose purpose seems to be to detect and exterminate intelligent life.

As the Inhibitors, seen as black cubes, systematically take apart a gas giant planet and several of it's moons near the planet Resurgam, Ana Khouri and Illia Volyova begin the scramble to evacuate the population to the Nostalgia for Infinity. At the same time the creators of the weapons on the ship, the Conjoiners (machine enhanced hive-mind race), are seeking them for their own purposes. Then a faction develops, lead by Conjoiner renegade Nevil Clavain, that also wants to retrieve the weapons for their own reasons.

I liked Redemption Ark more than the first book in the series, Revelation Space, but, obviously, I had to read Revelation Space first. The final book in the series is Absolution Gap. Then there are two other stand alone novels set in the same universe, Chasm City and The Prefect. Reynolds suggests that you read the trilogy first and then the stand alone novels, although they can also be read at any point in the trilogy.

I thought the writing was a bit better in Redemption Ark. The pace of the action moved along faster, but since it is a sequel much of the setting had been established earlier. Keep in mind that these are hefty, dense books - many, many pages, small type. Redemption Ark also had more characters. Finally, keep in mind that this is a hard science fiction series, so expect science.
Very Highly Recommended


The dead ship was a thing of obscene beauty.
Skade looped around it in a helical pseudo-orbit, her corvette's thrusters drumming a rapid tattoo of corrective bursts. opening

[All our opinions are considered, Skade. Visible failure cannot be tolerated. But that doesn't mean we won't do our best. If Galiana is aboard, we will do what we can to bring her back to us. But it must be done in absolute secrecy.]
How absolute, precisely?
[Knowledge of the ship's return will be impossible to conceal from the rest of the Mother Nest. But we can spare them the torment of hope, Skade. It will be reported that she is dead, beyond hope of revival. Let our compatriot's grief be quick and bright, like a nova. It will only make their efforts against the enemy more strenuous. But in the meantime we will work on her with diligence and love. If we bring her back to the living, her return will be a miracle. We will be forgiven or bending of the truth here and now.]
Skade caught herself before she laughed aloud, Bending of the truth? It sounds like an outright lie to me. And how are you going to ensure that Clavain sticks to your story? pg. 4

In the ninety-five years since the onset of the Melding Plague, the Conjoiners had learned a great deal about contamination management. As one of the last human factions to retain an appreciable pre-plague technology, they took quarantine very seriously indeed. pg. 5

What they found horrified Skade.
The crew had been butchered. Some had been ripped apart, squashed, dismembered, pulped, sliced, fragmented. Others had been burned or suffocated or frozen. The carnage had evidently not happened quickly. pg. 7

[You think the cubes wanted to learn as much as possible, don't you?]
I can't think of any other reason. They put taps into their minds, reading their neural machinery. They were intelligence-gathering. pg. 9

"I'm not lying," Skade said softly. "But I can't allow our minds to talk. There is something alien inside your head, you see. Something we don't understand, other than it is probably alien and probably hostile."
"I don't believe..."
But the pressure behind her eyes suddenly became acute. Galiana experienced a vile sense of being shoved aside, usurped, crushed into a small ineffectual corner of her own skull. Something sinister and ancient now had immediate tenancy, squatting behind her eyes. pg. 19

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