Bookshelf: Absolution Gap

Thursday, February 1st, 2007 @ 8:30 | printed words

Alastair Reynolds’ concluding work in his Revelation Space series is the first book in the series to feel like a sequel. Indeed, you won’t get much out of it without prior exposure to the overall story.

As usual, Reynolds has two main storylines interweaving though the book, set at different times but concentrating on the same location. This being a universe of slower than light space travel, those separating decades can evaporate over the course of one interstellar passage in cryogenic sleep.

The bigger story pulls together the ongoing destinies of the Revelation Space central cast. It does so in a satisfying manner, but there is an undercurrent of wrapping things up, which takes away from the overall value of the story.

The other story is all about the titular Absolution Gap and is much more interesting than the overarching plot. it is set on a planet orbiting a gas giant. The gas giant has disappeared for an eyeblink some dozens of times over the past centuries. This has led to churches forming on the world, who take it as their duty to watch the giant, waiting for another disappearance, hoping to get a glimpse of the divine. They literally stare at the planet all the time, using machines, medicine and drugs to keep their eyes open.

However, because of orbital drift, the churches need to be mobile to keep the giant in their view at all times. This has lead to a mass of tracked cathedrals, making their way across the planet to keep as directly below the gaint as possible. The story concerns a girl who makesher way to the cathedrals to look for her lost brother, but stumbles upon much bigger things. The moving cathedrals make a stunning backdrop for pretty basic intrigue.

Reynolds is by no means running out of ideas, and Absolution Gap is filled with cool stuff and great moments. It’s just its attempt at providing closure which undermines it.

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