Absolution Gap By Alastair Reynolds Reviewed

This article is part of the meta-post Another 3000 words or how copyrights are creating a controversy on Chartreuse. This article reviews the hard science-fiction novel Absolution Gap written by Alastair Reynolds. This novel was published in 2003 and is part of the author’s Revelation Space series.

I just finished Absolution Gap, the last novel in the Revelation Space series from Alastair Reynolds. It is a great novel. However, I did find some parts that just needed more elaboration, for example the concept of the Nestbuilders. It is mentioned a few times about these aliens that survived and adapted after Inhibitor scourges, however they are not explained, described or elaborated in any way.


Another point is that the hypometric weapons that Alastair Reynolds introduces are really interesting, but they too are not explained too much in detail. I find this a bit annoying. And mainly, though I do find that this novel is a great read, the parts with Quaiche seemed superfluous because in the end, they are inconsequential to the events that should take place. Also the destruction of the Nostalgia for Infinity is also a bit drastic.


Clavain and Skade’s deaths are just too fast and too unimportant in the grand scheme of things in this novel. I would have liked to see if Clavain manages to come back or if he just disappears. I believe that part of him survived on Ararat in the Pattern Jugglers with Felka and Galiana. I guess that Reynolds wanted to end certain parts of the story.


I also feel a bit disappointed that the rest of the struggle between humanity and the Inhibitors is not shown or described at all. I find this should have merited another novel in itself, because just skipping ahead for 400 years and saying that humanity had defeated them is a bit easy.


The main storyline revolves around Aura, Khouri’s daughter whose mind is a fusion of information from the Hades Matrix from Revelation Space, a kind of megastructural supercomputer running in a parody of a neutron star and Tharsis the father. She is the key, she is humanity’s savior. This is very similar to the themes developed by Dan Simmons in the Hyperion Cantos with Aenea. Not that I dislike saviors, but they are somewhat draining and have too much of a Jesus complex in their makeup. One of the better examples of messiahs and their portrayal is Paul Muad’hib Atreides by Frank Herbert. Aura is born and directs the crew and the refugees from Ararat to Haldora and its moon Hela, where mysterious negotiations will take place with shadows, unkown entities from a different braneworld (a different universe). The plot revolves around how the crew can influence Quaiche, the leader of a new church that was born on Haldora when Quaiche witnessed the vanishing of Hela during a “miracle” to further their goals of exploring Haldora.


Again, Reynolds uses the artifice of a planet trap in his novel, this was used in his first one too, Revelation Space. Though the novel is a page turner, I do believe that Pushing Ice is a much stronger novel. Absolution Gap came out in 2003 and Pushing Ice in 2005, so it is good to hear that his next novels will be getting even better.


Though I did enjoy seeing the end of this storyline in the Revelation Space universe, I still feel some disappointment to the resolution of the whole affair. The thing that really bothers me is that Reynolds started with using The Melding Plague as a nanocaust. Then went on to use the Inhibitors as galaxy wide machines that wiped out entire civilizations to minimize the impact of the collision of the Milky Way with another galaxy 3 billion years from now. And then, he goes back to another nanocaust, the greenfly. I mean, come on. I do understand the fascination with nanocausts, but time and time again in his novels? And to top this off, he never really explains these Neumann machines at all, not in enough detail. So Alastair Reynolds, if you are reading this, I love your writing but you need to write a lot more so that I can be satisfied. Get to work! Seriously, I don’t believe that he will touch these storylines again, albeit in a few short stories which he has done in the past.


Still, for a book to make me react this much, it must have been good. I recommend it, though if you have the choice, I’d recommend Pushing Ice more. I used to think that the Revelation Space series was a lot stronger, but it ended with Absolution Gap, and I don’t believe that is was a fitting end. Still, Chasm City and Revelation Space were excellent. I will not comment yet on Redemption Ark, since I have not reread it. I read it last year for the first time and I do need a refresher before voicing my opinions. I will now move on to the Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson. It has been a while since I have read them and I am due to reread them again. I won’t read House Atreides, Harkonnen or Corrino, simply the Machine Crusade. There are some great concepts in those books. I still have the Robot City novels to reread as well. So many books so little time.

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Related Posts

  1. Revelation Space By Alastair Reynolds
  2. Chasm City By Alastair Reynolds Reviewed
  3. Pusing Ice By Alastair Reynolds Reviewed

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It is also part of the meta-post Another 3000 words or how copyrights are creating a controversy on Chartreuse.

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Author: range

I'm mathematician/IT strategist/blogger from Canada living in Taipei.

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