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The Prefect

Written by: Alastair Reynolds
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 19 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, a law enforcement officer with the Panoply. His beat is the multifaceted utopian society of the Glitter Band, that vast swirl of space habitats orbiting the planet Yellowstone, the teeming hub of a human interstellar empire spanning many worlds. His current case: investigating a murderous attack against one of the habitats that left 900 people dead, a crime that appalls even a hardened cop like Dreyfus. But then his investigation uncovers something far more serious than mass slaughter---a covert plot by an enigmatic entity who seeks nothing less than total control of the Glitter Band. Before long, the Panoply detectives are fighting against something worse than tyranny, in a struggle that will lead to more devastation and more death. And Dreyfus will discover that to save what is precious, you may have to destroy it.

©2008 Alastair Reynolds (P)2011 Tantor

What the critics say

"A fascinating hybrid of space opera, police procedural and character study.... This is solid British SF adventure, evoking echoes of le Carre and Sayers with a liberal dash of Doctor Who." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great sci-fi read

I like Alastair Reynolds because he understands the science behind his writing. As a scientist myself, I enjoy the believability of his books. Reynolds does a great job of illustrating the worlds he creates. The Prefect is a great read. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I could imagine it being made into a great sci-fi movie. Looking forward to reading Elysium Fire next.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

uninteresting and irrelevant

it was an okay story but next to irrelevant to the others books it shouldn't have been the fourth book.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael G Kurilla
  • ROCKVILLE, MD, United States
  • 2011-04-03

Best yet of the Revelation Space series

Reynolds again demonstrates why he is among the top of contemporary sci-fi writers. Readers familiar with the Revelation Space series will recall Chasm City which was centered on the Yellowstone system. In that tale, surrounding the planet was a mass of space detritus known as the Rust Belt. Its state was the result of an undefined prior event known as the melding plague that destroyed nearly all nanotech. In Prefect, Reynolds sets the story prior to Chasm City when the Rust Belt was at its pinnacle and known as the Glitter Band. Encompassing 10,000 discreet and sovereign habitats, Reynolds explores the diversity and evolution of human societal organization (from voluntary tyranny to demoncratic anarchy). The conjoiners as well as Silveste remnants and the shrouders also play a small role.

Holding the hodge-podge together is our hero, Tom Dreyfus, a prefect who enforces the minimal rules for orderly interaction among the habitats. From what begins as a routine investigation, Dreyfus gradually peels back the onion of an ever expanding conspiracy that threatens the entire Glitter Band. Along the way, he must face, the corrupt, the gullible, the naive, and the idiotic, but he always manages to remain focused on his ultimate objective: seeing that justice is served.

As is typical of Reynolds, the sci-fi is first rate. He also has a knack for instinctively recognizing that unique interaction of science and society and the likely results. At the heart, the tale is an exploration of the human struggle to evolve beyond mere biology with all the potential pitfalls clearly displayed. Finally, as usual John Lee performs outstandlingly; his range of voices are superb and he sets the right tenor to allow the tension to develop.

60 of 61 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Troy
  • 2012-05-04

OMG! Glad I gave it another try.

I had previously lemmed this book twice. I kept wanting to read it out of order; being a stand-alone book I thought that would not be a problem. I would get a few chapters in and I would give up because the character strings were too complicated for me to follow. When I picked it up this time, after having read all the previous books in his Revelation Space universe, I fell into it like a fish in water. This is my favorite of all his books. This is the first of his books I am rating with 5 stars. The writing is crisp, suspenseful and as always imaginative. What an incredible ride this book was. I loved it.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tango
  • Texas
  • 2013-11-30

The Prefect is Perfect

Just coincidentally, I have recently listened to three sci-fi novels that all begin as police procedurals with law-enforcement agents investigating a localized crime that expands into a much more cosmic, universal mystery - The Prefect, The Great North Road, and Leviathan Wakes. The Prefect was by far the best of the three. Not only does The Prefect benefit from Reynold's elegant, evocative writing which is a cut above most other sci-fi writers, these are some of Reynold's best characters (primary protagonists and antagonists fleshed out with great back stories), the tightly woven plot is riveting with multiple twists, and the setting, The Glitter Band, is one of the coolest concepts from Revelation Space. Jon Lee does a bang-up job on this book - this is one where the Reynolds-Lee combo makes for a terrific audiobook. The Prefect will be an enjoyable listen for anyone who loves hard sci-fi even if you haven't read any of the Revelation Space trilogy, but if you have read the trilogy, the new stories of Philip Lascaille and Dan Sylveste in The Prefect will be extra fun.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David Morgenstern
  • San Francisco
  • 2011-03-30

Excellent hard science crime fiction

This is a fun hard sci-fi story that is also an excellent crime novel. Yes, I admit that I am a fan of sci-fi/fantasy crossover crime stories. A sucker some might say. But this story offers way more than the usual fare. I really was sorry to come to the end of the story.

The Prefect presents plenty of terrific sci-fi society and sci-fi justice ideas, along with plot twists and cliff-hangers. Instead of a private eye, Reynolds presents a futuristic police procedural. The story isn't set on Earth but in a loose alliance of space habitats called the Glitter Belt.

Still, the main character is hard boiled and his backstory is revealed over the course of the novel. Artificial intelligences bad.

Narrator John Lee may be an acquired taste to some, bringing an astonishing range of British and European accents. The Glitter Belt in the far far future isn't speaking with an American accent.

28 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 2012-02-01

Nice blending of genres

This was my first Reynolds book; I'm sure it will not be my last. I was impressed by his ability to combine a well realized science fiction setting with the elements of a contemporary thriller while also incorporating some of the character building associated with our better mystery writers. The result was that, after a somewhat plodding opening, I was fairly riveted for the remainder of the twenty hours. I cared about the characters, even some of the minor ones; I was fascinated by the milieu, and I could relate to the impending catastrophe in a way which compelled my attention.

Along the way, the author also manages to raise questions about the nature of evil and the trade offs between liberty, security and well being, and he does it with a light touch, never resorting to tiresome polemics. Happily he also never provides easy answers.

Narrators are probably the aspect of Audible listening most captive to individual tastes. Many people loved John Lee's work on this book. I did not. For me, a five star narration is one which adds to the work the author has done, not only consistent with it but building upon it to add understanding and delight. Narration which is simply and artfully invisible, never drawing attention to itself but always offering clarity and accuracy, is worth four stars. Lee's flat, almost metallic tone occasionally irritated me, and I did sometimes have to wonder who was speaking--so three stars. Certainly not enough to keep me from listening to another Reynolds book even if he were the narrator.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Colin
  • Detroit
  • 2011-09-24

A possible explanation for the melding plague?

Its Alastair Reynolds, and all his stuff is great for the most part, I like the way that Dreyfus has a Hyperpig as a partner or deputy Sparver is great and from listening to the other books he reminds me of Scorpio which is cool.

This is sorta a prequel to Chasm City because its before the Melding Plague, but this book was written after that book so if you like Reynolds stuff you probably already read that one - this is no problem because although this takes place before the Melding Plague its sorta a story of its own unlike the trilogy of Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, and Absolution Gap this book like Chasm City was a story that's just in the same universe as them, and Chasm City is the name of the city on the Planet or Moon named Yellowstone that the Glitter Band (latter re-named the rust belt) orbits a large gas giant with 10,000+ habitats.

The 10,000+ habitats are all self sufficient but all vote and that voting is policed by Panoply but they only insure fare voting, they dont care what else goes on inside the habitats - some are VT's or "Voluntarily Tyranny" where people actually want to be controlled, mostly this goes bad and there is nothing that can be done about it.

The good thing about this is that there are some technologies that are talked about in the other books but arent used anymore because of the Melding Plague, which is nice to see them used.

John Lee does a good job as usual but he really only has about 3-5 voices and mostly uses 2-3 of them at most - you have to get over this because its hard to follow because at times you can forget who is talking but thats OK because you figure it out pretty fast.

The end IMO hints at a possible explanation to the Melding Plague that is a large part of the other 4 books set in the universe, the Clockmaker and Aurora fighting it out, maybe after a time they combine forces and unwittingly create the Melding Plague?

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • wendy
  • NJ
  • 2011-08-30

Gripping and delightful

This is one of my favorite stories, and the audiobook version is fantastic. What a great trip to a new universe, to a totally new world that is so beautifully brought to life!

And the story can really stand up to the crazy environment it unfolds in... I found it gripping and was drawn in. I was really sad when it ended!

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Julius Butcher
  • 2012-08-27

Entertaining listen

I have read a few books from Reynolds several years ago, and I did like them. I was satisfied with The Prefect too. Actually, more than satisfied, I liked it very much.

Being a scifi fan, I always enjoy good science fiction stories. The Prefect is one of those which feels real. It happens in the future, in a far galaxy. The people use technology we just dream about today. There are futuristic habitats, which are members of an utopian democracy. But in spite of these, the story feels like it really happens. Reynolds makes the it so.

I listened to the audiobook version, and I can recommend it if you want a good book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Farrell
  • 2016-08-20

Good Sci-fi

Good characters, good world building, decent mystery and drama. Pacing was off in parts. Overall a very good book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Quinn Palmer
  • 2015-10-20

Unbelievable scope and creativity.

Reynolds is a master, and this is one of his strongest efforts yet. The voice performance is absolutely top notch as well. This tells a story involving 100,000,000 people and still feels down to earth and human, and has a beautiful touch of noir mystery to it. Whether you know the rest of the series or not, this book stands alone and I can't recommend it enough.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful