by Alastair Reynolds
Space opera tends to be a fun but frustrating genre. It's fun because the wider universe places very few constraints on the storyline -- the author can go anywhere she likes, do anything she wants. It's frustrating for exactly the same reason. Revelation Space is an interesting and often enjoyable book that ultimately fails to deliver. The first problem is that Reynolds tells rather than shows -- we are told too often that some sight is indescribably horrifying or incredibly beautiful. Second, the back story is a letdown -- it all happened about a billion years ago and is just not that interesting. Third, and most problematic, far too many pages are spent filling in characters' backgrounds and maneuvering them in such a way that they can be in the right place at the right time for the grand finale. Overall, there are plenty of neat images and scenes but neither the plot nor the characters gel.
copyright © 2002 John Regehr