If you’re in the market for a quick, flip-through-it-before-you-go-to-bed number, you should check out Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. It’s big, sprawling, hard science fiction. And at a brisk 576 pages, you’ll have it finished in a month or two.
While excavating the ruins of a million-year old civilization, archaeologist Daniel Sylveste discovers that the catastrophe which killed off the Amarantin may have been engineered to prevent an unstoppable threat from being set loose on the galaxy. Light years away, a ship crewed by the half-cyborg Ultras are seeking Sylveste in an attempt to save their captain, who’s been afflicted with a mysterious disease that infects both biological and technological lifeforms. What the Ultras don’t know is that one among them is an assassin who’s looking for Sylveste not to enlist his help, but to kill him. Exciting!
Before getting rich as a science fiction writer, Reynolds worked for the European Space Agency and his extensive knowledge of physics and astronomy fills his books from start to stop. It’s one of the biggest reasons I was turned on to his stuff. The Star Treks and the Fireflys are great, but if you’re looking for a more realistic approach to science fiction, Reynolds is the man. He’s heavy on plot but doesn’t scrimp on character, and his world-building had me spending my grandmother’s social security money at Barnes & Noble.
Revelation Space is heftier than a lot of the sci-fi out there, but the challenge is why we love to read, amirite? Unless the book’s about sexy vampires, in which case that’s why we love to read.