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Redemption Ark Paperback – December 11, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Revelation Space Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With this complex, thoughtful sequel to his highly praised Revelation Space (2001), British author Reynolds confirms his place among the leaders of the hard-science space-opera renaissance. Spreading from star to star, humanity has split into different, competing factions. Late in the 26th century, the group-mind Conjoiners are defeating their main rivals, the Demarchists. Unfortunately, the Conjoiners' space exploration has attracted the notice of an ancient swarm of machines that calls itself the Inhibitors and that exists to destroy all biological intelligence. The Conjoiners don't believe they can fight this new foe, so they intend to run away and let the Inhibitors wipe out the other human tribes. One Conjoiner warrior, the centuries-old Clavain, rebels against this heartless tactic, but he must negotiate with a fragmented, distrustful mob of possible allies while pursued by his former cohorts. The novel forces readers to process an outrageous amount of information-but that's only fair, since the characters are challenged to do the same. As they extend themselves outward, they also have a chance to gain more understanding of themselves as human beings and more ability to interact meaningfully. It's rare to find a writer with sufficient nerve and stamina to write novels that are big enough to justify using words like "revelation" and "redemption." Reynolds pulls it off.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Reynolds' latest is a large, sprawling tale of war, politics, ideology (including religion), and alien invasion. It starts with the return to base, after 200 years, of an exploration ship filled with corpses. Its central characters are the investigators trying to find what or who killed the ship's occupants: A human (using the term loosely) enemy? Aliens? A nanotech plague? As the investigation proceeds, Reynolds introduces a galaxy's worth of technology and politics, the latter including the faction fight that gives the book its title. Like Reynolds' previous books, this one can be considered a technothriller set in the future, with technology extrapolated from the current states of biotech and artificial intelligence. Human nature is not envisioned as having changed much at all, however, no matter how much intelligence may be augmented. Despite a quite intricate plot, skilled narrative technique and well-developed characters make this a novel most readers will find absorbing and comprehensible. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (December 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575083107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575083103
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,021,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Just a warning to anyone reading the reviews below. These reviewers tell you specific facts about the ending of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Who wouldn't love a plot like this? 4 km-long starship, "Nostalgia for Infinity", gradually being absorbed by the super-technovirus, the Melding Plague and/or the ship's former Captain, his mind now having merged with said Plague. The way-to-cool Triumvir Ilia Volyova trying to get control of 33 mysterious Hell-Class weapons in order to direct a pre-emptive strike against the galaxy's most fearsome menace, the soulless Inhibitor-machines, bent on extinguishing 'outbreaks' of starfaring, intelligent life. Meanwhile her associate Khouri (who survived Revelation Space!)attempting to organize the evacuation of 200.000 people from Resurgam before the Inhibitors can finish the ultimate doomsday weapon of their own, made out of the Delta Parvonis system's biggest planet! And on top of this: two competing factions of the ultra-advanced, hive-minded Conjoiners, one led by the old war-hero, Nevil Clavain, the other by his adversary, the scary cyborg woman, Skade, race towards Resurgam to reclaim the weapons for their own, more or less, righteous purposes. And that's just scratchin' the surface! This book is an incredibly cool scifi-read with more than its share of incredibly cool - and even some quite sympathetic characters (like the tormented Clavain, and the unwilling trader-turned-heroine, Antoinette Bax). Not very 'deep' characters, mind you, but they never really were in 99% of all scifi I read, so I don't mind.
What I *do* mind, however, is that the story seems strangely unfinished by the end of it. Many of the sketchy interrelations between the characters (such as between Khouri and Volyova) are barely resolved, if at all. Too many interesting characters (such as Clavain's lost love, Galiana - and to a large extent: Bax) are just left in plot limbo.
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Format: Hardcover
One of the best things about Alastair Reynolds is that he is a practicing astronomer who really knows what he is talking about when it comes to space and planetary motion. If Reynolds makes up something that is not realistic by today's standards he is at least basing it on the current theories of space and time. This is why a science major like myself would appreciate reading his fiction more than most of the pop that found in the sci-fi section of today's book store.
However, there are many problems with Redemption Ark. It was far less enjoyable to read then either Chasm city or Revelation Space. The strength of Reynolds writing comes largely from his was imagination that is not too far detached from realistic outlook on scientific principles of today (such as our inability to achieve the speed of light). He presents us a whole new and exciting world of the future, the world that is based on the assumption of human race having the intelligence to propagate its survival by colonizing space. The setting Reynolds presented was so convincing and intriguing that it made Revelation Space almost like an ethnographic account of new cultures as well as a novel at the same time. Chasm city had some of the same element but Redemption Ark had almost nothing new. Once again we find ourselves in the same world but we are no longer impressed by it, but find ourselves in a familiar territory.
Writer's style also started wearing off in its ingenuity. Reading Redemption Ark felt like being supplied with tiny spoons of interesting plot points drifting amid empty conversational and narration filler. It is if we are feed the relevant information at more or less constant rate as we progressed towards the end.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good but even better having read Galactic North first. That was the advice of someone who took note of my complaint about trying Revelation Space three times and discarding it each time. So I read Galactic North and it was about the best sci-fi I've ever read, more new ideas in a few pages than entire series by other authors, even Alastair Reynolds himself. Everything revealed in the 2000 pages of the RS series is introduced in short stories in Galactic North, and the medium forces Reynolds to get right to the action in each story. Then I started Revelation Space again a couple weeks ago, and just now finished the series finale, Absolution Gap, which suffers from many 1 and 2-star reviews. Those reviewers would have benefited from reading Galactic North first as the ending which they all hated made perfect sense to me. Too late for them but not for new readers. Seriously, not only is Galactic North better than any book in the series, it also clues you in to what's going on as you read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"Redemption Ark" is billed as a sequel to Mr. Reynolds's intriguing "Revelation Space, and in some sense it is; but it's much more than that. It brings back a few of the characters--and settings--of its predecessor, but it veers off in a totally unexpected direction. The author introduces plenty of new characters--human, machine, and combinations of the two--and new puzzles. The conflicted warrior Nevil Clavain assumes the hero's role and Skade (of the detachable head) serves as his bizarre opponent.

Clavain is intriguing: like the lonely private eyes of the hardboiled detective tradition, he doesn't always quite know what's going on; and his plans don't always work quite as designed. He battles the life-destroying Inhibitors (machine intelligences that want to "inhibit" intelligent life), the forces unleashed by Skade, and a few others as well. Spaceship captain Antoinette Bax and her mechanic and more than friend Xavier Liu, who are enlisted in Clavain's pickup army, supply the human factor. Their heads aren't detachable, and they don't deal in cosmic issues; they just want to survive. And then there's Scorpio--he's a . . . err, never mind. Best if you see for yourself.

There's plenty of great science here, too. The author, an astronomer by trade, instructs his readers on how to destroy a star, and how a starship might gain sentience of its own. And the author's technique is unorthodox, he writes as though he's saying to his audience, "look--we've all read space operas--we all know how battles go." So he pretty much shows you more of the befores and afters, and less of the action than do many authors. Some may be put off. I thought it was clever.
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