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The Prefect (Ace Science Fiction) Mass Market Paperback – May 26, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
The seventh novel set in Reynolds's Revelation Space milieu (most recently encountered in his 2007 collection Galactic North) is a fascinating hybrid of space opera, police procedural and character study. One of the 10,000 colony habitats of the utopian Glitter Band has been destroyed, and title character Tom Dreyfus, a cop who patrols the Glitter Band beat, is assigned to learn whodunit and why. Meanwhile, his protégé, Thalia Ng, shepherds a supposedly minor series of software upgrades on several other habitats, while Dreyfus's superiors oust their leader, ostensibly for her own good. Reynolds unfolds revelations layer by onionskin layer, supplying enough detail to imply a novel's worth of unwritten backstory without ever obscuring the stakes and personalities. The high-quality characterization more than compensates for the slightly too shadowy villains. This is solid British SF adventure, evoking echoes of le Carré and Sayers with a liberal dash of Doctor Who. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Reynolds returns to Revelation Space to follow the trials and tribulations of Tom Dreyfus, prefect of Panoply, tasked with maintaining democracy throughout the Glitter Band. Between an apparently minor security flaw in the voting software and an apparent attack that left an entire habitat destroyed and the only survivors flawed beta-level copies of three of its inhabitants, Dreyfus is caught in a web of good intentions gone bad. Tension is high as the threads leading to a conspiracy to control the Glitter Band and a plan to destroy people’s rights ostensibly to protect them come together faster than the planners intended. There are secrets in the highest ranks of Panoply; even Dreyfus has kept some from himself. The endgame is creative, though as usual with Reynolds, neither plot nor solution is simple. The questions he raises about freedom and the fascinating solutions his characters come up with are relevant to our own time, and the thriller aspects keep us engaged with the magnificently imagined world in which those questions are resolved. --Regina Schroeder --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
While a gripping read, THE PREFECT is a below-par effort for Reynolds. It doesn't have the scope, depth, or audacity of Reynolds' earlier CHASM CITY, with which it shares the setting of Yellowstone and the Epsilon Eradani system. There are lots of plot holes (why would the bad guy(s) choose to do that when something far easier would probably have been effective?), a lot goes unexplained, and a question that appears at first to be central (is democracy really better than benign dictatorship?) turns out to be a red herring.
The novel is nonetheless of interest to fans of the REVELATION SPACE universe, revisiting familiar places like the Glitter Band, familiar themes like the nature of consciousness and self-awareness, familiar groups like the cyborgified Ultras with their enormous Lighthugger ships, and familiar people like Phillip Lascaille, the first man to survive contact with the alien Shrouders. It also introduces some new tech, of which the whiphound -- a semisentient combination of snake, whip, light sabre, and grenade -- is definitely the coolest. All in all, it's not a bad package.
If you haven't yet read REVELATION SPACE and CHASM CITY, you can probably read THE PREFECT without being very confused, but DON'T. Read the earlier novels first. If you've read and enjoyed the earlier novels, definitely DO pick up THE PREFECT.
When a minor coding error is found within the voting system, one of Dreyfus's deputies -- Thalia Ng -- is sent in to manually fix the error in four of the habitats...if the fix is successful for the four habitats it will be transmitted throughout the entire Glitter Band.
While Thalia is occupied with her work on the polling cores, Dreyfus and his other deputy -- a hyperpig named Sparver Bancal -- begin to investigate a horrible crime. Someone destroyed an entire habitat -- and killed nearly a thousand people in the process. As Dreyfus and Sparver begin to probe this atrocity, they soon realize that not all is at it seems.
Now, Dreyfus, Sparver, Thalia, and all of Panoply are about to be pulled into a series of events that will push their mandate from the people to serve as the voting police to the very edge. Events that may wind up tarnishing the Glitter Band forever...
Alastair Reynolds's The Prefect is a superb addition to his Revelation Space universe. Reynolds's depiction of Chasm City's Rust Belt pre-plague (i.e. the Glitter Band) is interesting to say the least. The Prefect more than carries its own weight as a great novel, but as a bonus the depiction of the splendors of the Glitter Band serves as a counterpoint to the post-plague horrors depicted in Chasm City. Not only that, but The Prefect is awash with everything fans of this series have come to expect -- futuristic societies, advanced technologies, and strong, character-driven plots. This novel is highly recommended to those who have read the other tales in this series.