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Revelation Space

Written by: Alastair Reynolds
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 22 hrs and 12 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Nine hundred thousand years ago, something annihilated the Amarantin civilization just as it was on the verge of discovering space flight. Now one scientist, Dan Sylveste, will stop at nothing to solve the Amarantin riddle before ancient history repeats itself.

With no other resources at his disposal, Sylveste forges a dangerous alliance with the cyborg crew of the starship Nostalgia for Infinity. But as he closes in on the secret, a killer closes in on him because the Amarantin were destroyed for a reason. And if that reason is uncovered, the universe - and reality itself - could be irrevocably altered.

©2008 Alastair Reynolds (P)2008 Tantor

What the critics say

"One of the best books of the year." ( Science Fiction Chronicle)
"Ferociously intelligent and imbued with a chilling logic - it may really be like this Out There." (Stephen Baxter, co-author of The Light of Other Days)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Revelation Space universe rocked my world

Alastair Reynolds weaves multiple stories together in this epic sci-fi saga. I can so easily picture the deep, details worlds described by Reynolds. The characters are interesting and complex. The story is gripping and hard to stop listening to. My only wish is that this book gets made into a movie someday! #Audible1

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

AWESOME scifi story. just get 8 chapters in first!

Start of the book takes a bit of time to understand but once the pieces fall in place, it's gripping. This scifi takes the bleeding edge of current knowledge and takes it to the extreme.

Love this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • cmthomas
  • 2010-02-03

Challenging noir space opera bursting with ideas

Revelation Space has three main characters one of Russian decent, one of French and one Indian, with many Japanese characters figuring prominently, and the narrator portrays each one with the appropriate accent. The perspective of the novel shifts between these characters liberally within each chapter. Further, future tech flies fast and furious with explanations dispersed (sometimes) over several chapters. Taken together these factors make for a challenging read, but the fast-paced intricate and mind-bending ride is incredibly rewarding. The Revelation Space universe is proof that Reynolds' space operas are equal to the likes of M. John Harrison's or Iain M. Banks'.

33 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Eoin
  • 2012-07-15

Defeated

This book defeated me, I am ashamed to say. I do most of my audio listening whilst driving, but this requires you too pay too much attention, and thus, while driving you lose important plot points, for two reasons:

1) There is a lot of tech within the book, and diluted time due to near-light speed travel on ships, and there is a lot of scene-shifting within chapters, which leads me to...

2) Other reviewers have alluded to it already, but it was a bad move not to have some sort of pause or audio-cue when scene-shifting between chapters. What happens is that John Lee (whose other stuff is ok, in my opinion), moves between scenes without taking a breath and you completely lose where you are whilst driving.

Shame I have to give it up, it's supposed to be a classic series. But them's the breaks.

193 of 201 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Carrie Turner
  • 2014-04-19

Terrible audio book. I do not blame the author.

What disappointed you about Revelation Space?

The editor and the narrator were HORRIBLE. I have heard this is a really good book but I will never be able to finish because of this crappy performance.

There is absolutely no indication that the narration has moved from one character story arc to another. It is very confusing. At one moment you are following along, the next you have no clue what is going on. Then you realize you have moved to a separate story arch. There isn't even a pause in the narration. You could believe they are in the same sentence when they have crossed chapters.

Unfortunately due to eye issues I won't be able to read this book. I have heard it is a good book from people who have read it.

Has Revelation Space turned you off from other books in this genre?

I LOVE this genre

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of John Lee?

ANYONE. He is the only narrator that I refuse to listen to again. (I have 150 audible books and maybe 50 more audio books not through audible). He ruined A Feast of Crows by George R R Martin so bad they sent it back and had Roy Dotrice re-narrate it. Unfortunately I listened to the John Lee version. At least I can go back and listen to the remake with Roy Dotrice who is an excellent narrator.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Gillette
  • 2010-02-27

Frustrations with narrator and editing

The book so far is very good. However, the combination of the narrating and one particular editing decision has turned me off of the audio version. So far I have only been unable to finish one audiobook I've purchased from Audible.com (out of about 150) and I may now have to change that number to two.

The Narrator: John Lee has never been my favorite, but I've had him read four other books in my collection, and he did fine. On this one, the voices for the characters are goofy even more often than in the narration of Peter F Hamilton's "Pandora's Star" and "Judas Unchained". In many scenes, there's just not enough vocal differentiation between characters to follow the scene clearly.

The biggest problem: Some "genius" editor decided that there would be NO pause, NONE at all, when the book changes scenes. Since there are multiple plot threads and not quite enough vocal variety between some characters, and the scene changes rather frequently, this editing decision is really disruptive to the listening experience. I was so confused about which characters were where and doing what that I had to start over after getting about five hours in, and it was only the second time through that I began to recognize that there were even scene changes!! There's less of a pause between scene changes than pauses between the end of one sentence and the beginning of another. Nerd that I am I timed it! If the aforementioned genius editor hadn't decided to cut 5 minutes from the total length of the book in this manner, I might have bought the other four books from Audible. No chance now, unless some reviewer of the other books can tell me whether there are pauses at scene changes.



139 of 148 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jefferson
  • 2012-12-13

Sometimes Corny, Often Awesome, Modern Space Opera

In the year 2551 as Revelation Space (2000) begins, Dan Sylveste, the 215-year-old, famous science family scion, colony leader, and archeologist, is pushing his team to excavate an obelisk made by the extinct Amarantin, despite the approach of a terrible "razorstorm," because he wants to learn why "the Event" (apparently a stellar flare) suddenly ended the alien civilization some 900,000 years earlier on the planet Resurgam. Meanwhile (in 2543), the small "Ultranaut" crew of Nostalgia for Infinity, a city-sized, ancient and decaying "lighthugger" starship, including Ilia Volyova, the only crew member currently awake, is on its way to Sylveste to make him cure their captain of the Melding Plague (which merges human cells and machine nanotechnology into cancerous hybrid shapes). Meanwhile again (in 2524), Ana Khouri is a successful assassin hired by the idol rich of Chasm City on planet Yellowstone to relieve them from ennui, when the mysterious Mademoiselle has her infiltrate the crew of Nostalgia for Infinity as their new Gunnery Officer to communicate with the starship's apocalyptic weapons) so that she may hitch a ride to Resurgam and assassinate Sylveste.

Reynolds interweaves the three story lines as he brings Sylveste, Volyova, and Khouri ever closer together in time and space. The three point of view characters might at first seem to be unsympathetic: an arrogant and obsessive scientist, a shanghaiing and loner starship weapons expert, and a coolly efficient assassin. Yet Reynolds forces us to care for them in their various difficult situations by gradually revealing the humanity lurking inside them.

With its varied humans (conjoiners, ultranauts, chimerics, hermetics, etc.) modified in various ways (longevity techniques, prosthetics, implants, neural transformations, software simulations, etc.) and its enigmatic aliens (Shrouders, Jugglers, Inhibitors, etc.), Revelation Space pushes the boundaries of the human (physically, culturally, mentally), revels in the sublime wonders of the universe (space, time, stars), and unfolds an exciting story.

Reynolds' imagination is impressive: he conjures up numerous scientific developments, technological devices, alien species, galactic histories, and cultural extrapolations, ranging from the cool to the sublime. And he's good at evoking creepy and fascinating phenomena, like the malevolent Sun Stealer, the vast starship Nostalgia for Infinity, the fate of the alien Amarantin, and the "world" Cerberus orbiting a "neutron star."

John Lee does his usual efficient job reading the novel. Although his handling of Reynolds' dialogue may rub some listeners the wrong way (like his snide intonations in French, Russian, or Japanese accents), I mostly enjoyed his style and base narration and feeling for the story and characters, and was horripilated by his channeling of the creepy Sun stealer.

There are occasional corny lines in the novel like this exchange: Khouri: "I'm not sure I like this." Volyova: "Join the club." And sometimes I suspect that Reynolds could have told his story with less dialogue. And I'm still trying to decide whether the climax and resolution of the novel are satisfyingly transcendent or disappointingly explanatory. And I think his House of Suns is a better book. But there are plenty of neat descriptions in this book, like, "Volyova was silent until they reached the human nebula that was the Captain. Glittering and uncomfortably muscoid, he less resembled a human being than an angel which had dropped from the sky onto a hard, splattering surface." And plenty of memorably sublime or horrible scenes that make Revelation Space worth listening to for fans of the dark and sublime space opera of the likes of Iain Banks.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mauricio
  • 2010-08-19

A challenge that's worth the investment

A great read. As another reviewer said, this is very much in the style of Peter F. Hamilton's books. Epic and complex. I started getting frustrated at the beginning since things don't seem to make sense, but if you stick with it then everything falls into place.
I wish a knew what some of the tougher scientific concepts mean because there's some stuff here that is beyond my understanding but in a way that made it even more interesting.

I love John Lee's narration and characterization in the book, although I do agree that the cuts between scenes are so short that you get confused when things end and start. Other than that I look forward to the next book which I'm downloading as I write this.

33 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Cyndi Lou from Kalamazoo
  • 2015-09-06

Nearly defeated me

What disappointed you about Revelation Space?

I am an avid reader. I am intelligent enough to understand the most complex equipment mankind produces (aerospace stuff) However, this audiobook is seriously flawed. The story is actually a good one, but it needs significant editing and revision for reader comprehension. Other reviews hinted at the lack of audio cues between sub chapters. The listener easily becomes confused when the story changes from one situation and set of characters, to the next without any indication. I'm still back with Sylveste on some planet and the story has moved on to spaceship ops with Volyova, without any indication, without even a breath or pause in the narrator's delivery. Hence, serious confusion.

To make matters worse, uncommon words are used throughout the story. Words, that are difficult to decipher in context. And difficult to find via Google. Words such as "escritoire" are used throughout the story. I guessed the "scrit" meant writing, and guessed it was a writing desk. However, in the story, that's certainly not clear. No writing went on. I suspect, but don't really know that this word was substituted for something akin to a desktop computer terminal. Other unusual words are simply not described in detail, and take some time to work out. However, by this time, the listener is getting downright annoyed.

Furthermore, John Lee, while highly regarded, really does not perform well here. He has a tendency to get close to the microphone during the first or second word in a sentence, and then trail off the volume by the end of the sentence. This means, that to hear his words in a car, the volume must be very loud. So loud, an early word is ear splitting, and by the end of the sentence, it's impossible to hear. I had to use earbuds to understand him. Not every sentence was this way, but it happened often enough to be really annoying.

In addition, John Lee uses annoying fake accents to denote characters. Many words are nearly unintelligible while driving down the road. Once again, requiring sealed earbuds to hear it clearly enough to understand. His pronunciation is less than clear at times.

Overall, I had to listen to the first third of the book 3 times over, just to understand what was happening. It's really not that complex, just that the writing style and delivery make it incomprehensible.

How could the performance have been better?

Revise and edit the story for clarity. Have the narrator indicate when storyline changes. In other words, insert chapters where there are none.

What character would you cut from Revelation Space?

None

Any additional comments?

A truly epic story, ruined by failure to edit for clarity and poor narration.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lowroad
  • 2009-03-14

Mixed review

This book is about one person's quest to find what disaster befell an ancient civilization and how it is relevant to the human race. The story describes this future world quite well, with some imaginative technologies and situations. It all seems very possible that such a future could come about - some of it at least. The reader, as usual, is very good.

The problem I had with this book is that there is not a clear protagonist. The main character is not such a likeable guy and you don't get to know him well enough to understand his motivations for this life long search, hence it seems a little contrived. The other characters are ambiguous as well. It is not that I want all the characters to be one dimensionally good or bad, but you do want to identify yourself with them and that did not happen for me.

Then a lot of the explanations of why/what happened are given near the end of the book. One person or another just fills in the blanks by recounting some of the salient facts. This never works well in a book of fiction. It is much more interesting to let a character experience something, instead of a documentary style of offering up just facts. I found myself scrambling to put it all together; too many facts all at once (of course an audio book does not help here, since it is hard to re-read a sentence or passage).

The end was a little disappointing too.

All in all though, it is still a story worth listening too; but it could have been made a lot better with some good editing and sharper characterizations.

63 of 71 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Tango
  • 2013-10-08

A worthwhile slog through fog

I have two pieces of advice for anyone considering this audio book:

1. Don't start Alistair Reynolds with Revelation Space. My first Reynolds was House of Suns and I think that's a great one to start with although I haven't yet read all of his work. If I had started with Revelation Space, I don't think I would have finished this book much less read any of his other work and THAT would be a shame.
2. Find a good plot summary before you start listening to this book. This is one that would be tough to follow in print and even tougher on audio. A good plot summary helps tremendously. I would write one, but fortunately, Jefferson has included a good one in his review so I'd point you there. (Thanks, Jefferson.) There are some others on the internet if you are looking for more.

Revelation Space was my third Alistair Reynolds novel and it was challenging! However, having read Pushing Ice and House of Suns, I knew I wanted to read most if not all of Reynolds work because I really like his writing. And, Revelation Space is the introduction to Reynolds "signature" universe so I knew I needed the introduction even if it was hard.

Listening to this book felt a lot like trying to put together a 10,000 piece jigsaw with no picture or border pieces to work with. The first two thirds of the book are totally DENSE with descriptions and concepts and it doesn't seem to quite fit together. The pieces of the plot I could understand were intriguing, but it felt like much of it was just going past me. And, it doesn't help that these are not the best Reynolds characters. All the characters are interesting in a way that unusual things are interesting, but not sympathetic because you can't quite understand their motivations or their goals. They aren't really good or evil - most of them just seem rather duplicitous (lots of hidden agendas here) and amoral so there is really no one to root for/against through most of the book. I will admit that by the end, I was really rooting for Volyova; she is clever, thinks on her feet, and by her standards she's loyal. One of the things I've come to appreciate about Reynolds is that he writes some very good female characters. Although John Lee provides distinct character voices with the narration, it is not as much help as it might be because he uses so many thick accents that it is actually hard to understand some of the dialog.

If you feel like you are wading through a swamp in dense fog through much of this book, you wouldn't be alone, but it is worth the effort to stick with it. In the final third of the book, it's like Reynolds finally steps in and takes control; he hands you the border pieces and gives you the completed picture to work from and suddenly all the pretty, but meaningless pieces start to snap together in this amazing puzzle and it's quite a stunning picture. You really don't understand much of the plot or the characters or the universe until the final third of the book, but when it culminates, it makes for a grand conclusion.

Not the best Reynolds novel, but worthwhile if you are up to the slog through the initial fog.

33 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Reviewer
  • 2016-02-28

Narrator makes a mediocre book bad

What would have made Revelation Space better?

I generally like Alastair Reynolds, but there is zero character development in this book. I could care less about any of them.

Would you recommend Revelation Space to your friends? Why or why not?

No. Weak book and a worse audiobook. Drags on, repeats itself, broken sequencing just for the sake of it.

How could the performance have been better?

The reader is too quiet too much of the time. I listen in the car and had to constantly adjust the volume because he moves from mumbling to speaking normally every other sentence. His natural speaking voice isn't bad...but every accent he has sounds like a soft-spoken vampire being forced to speak in a French accent at gunpoint.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • DESQUINS
  • 2015-09-28

Un Néo-classique !

Un vrai plaisir de redécouvrir dans ce format le premier volet de ce space-opéra vraiment singulier de part ces ambiances un peu "trash" et ce côté anticipation à la Azimov... Un vrai classique conté magistralement même si aucun interlude musical, aucune ponctuation sonore ni même un bruitage ne viennent illustrer le récit.