When I read the first book, “Revelation Space,” I had the feeling that I was starting with book two in the series. That feeling was actually amplified with this, the third book. It’s not that I was missing information it’s just that references to the past were so specific and emotionally charged that I felt like, as a reader, I should have been there. I have come to learn that a series of short stories lead up to the first book and was happy to also learn that these short stories are collected in a book by Reynolds called “Galactic North,” and even happier to learn that it’s on my bookshelf in the “to read” section already. I haven’t read them yet but I’m willing to bet that starting with “Galactic North” will enrich your reading of the “Revelation Space” series.
What I love about this series is that there is no faster than light travel and space ships that can travel between the stars are a rare and highly valued commodity with all that entails. The characters feel a little bit cold distant and cynical which might make empathy hard for some readers. This characterization does fit with themes of the book, however. When someone lives 150 plus years and sees 400 years of history thanks to time dilation, does it become harder to care about people? Do the few things you care about become all the more precious? In, Redemption Ark we learn more about the mysterious threat to humanity call “the inhibitors” which are proving to be a big threat; a several orders of magnitude BIG threat. And one of the deepest questions that comes up in the story is something I’ve often thought about: Will there come a time when the people making the big decisions decide it may be time for the human species to call it a day? Is it possible to sit by and watch humanity’s time in the universe end with an “It was inevitable” attitude? I like very much how deep, Reynolds’s stories delve. I do tend to want a change of pace after each book but I will always come back.