Book Review: “Revenger” by Alistair Reynolds

Revenger by Alistair Reynolds

Reynolds is prolific and consistently produces interesting science fiction in a classic vein—starships, aliens, jaw dropping technical wonders. Revenger is no exception.

The story follows young Arafura Ness who runs away from home on several treasure hunting starships. It’s very dangerous, stuff happens, people get hurt and killed, they finds some amazing swag, Fura grows up pretty fast.

Reynolds has laid out a wondrous far future, when humans have been around so long that they have died out and started over many times. Fura lives in the thirteenth occupation, and there are twelve known historic periods and as many blank periods, dating back millions of years.

She lives in our future solar system, transformed by humans (probably). The planets and bodies have been broken up and replaced with a clout of thousands and thousands of habitats. Humans are spread throughout, traveling via solar sailing ships.

The story teems with wonders, most of which the contemporary people don’t really understand. For that matter, there are many things that are lost in the mists of time and ignorance, and the possibility of conspiracies and sneaky alien manipulations.

Over the vast and no longer known span of history, there have been many human empires and alien visitors. They have left behind not only the occupied (actually, reoccupied) habitats, but also many worlds sealed by impenetrable screens that preserve their contents.. The screens open now and then, and the values there can be cracked to find whatever treasures have been buried there. Treasure hunting is risky, and there are pirates and other hazards, but the payoff can be huge if you survive.

Arafura learns the hard way about the perils of starfaring and treasure hunting.

I haven’t read all that much of prolific Reynolds, but this is surely just the kind of story I’d expect.

I was a little surprised about some confusing sections that seem to suffer from poor editing. (For example, there was some sort of financial flash crash that was never mentioned, and then everyone was talking about it afterwards—quite baffling. Was that deliberate or just a goof?)

Still, this is a good yarn, with lots of wonders to ponder and try to figure out. We want Arafura and her friends to be OK, which keeps us reading. Things are far from settled at the end, so there is plenty of room for a sequel.


  1. Alistair Reynolds, Revenger, New York, Orbit, 2016.

 

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