[By Nic Lindh on Monday, 15 August 2005]
Redemption Ark is the follow-up to Alastair Reynolds’s highly acclaimed debut Revelation Space (my review here) and continues the far-future tale of humanity’s encounter with the Inhibitors. The story picks up where Revelation Space left off, but Redemption Ark introduces a slew of new characters, most notably members of the most technologically advanced faction of humanity known as Conjoiners as well as, intriguingly enough, genetically modified pigs.
While the scale remains astronomically huge, Reynolds does a better job of his characterizations in Redemption Ark, and the plot is more character-driven and tighter than in the previous work.
The two things that really separate Redemption Ark from run-of-the-mill space opera are: a) the sheer amount of technological innovation Reynolds throws in; and b) his scientific background—a PhD in astronomy—which allows him to create events that, while completely fantastic, are, or seem to the lay reader, at least to be grounded in the mechanics of the universe.
Redemption Ark is a fantastic melding of space opera and hard SF.