Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space trilogy is one of the most intriguing (and challenging!) reads I ever encountered, but it happened several years ago so that time has blurred my memory of it considerably, and the complexity of the narrative context in which this space opera series is set made it difficult for me to retain more than a few of the myriad details of that multifaceted tapestry. A re-read is something I might enjoy one of these days, and I think this collection of longer stories from that same universe might be the best way to re-introduce myself with the characters and the wide, sweeping background they are moving in.
Sadly enough, this last story in the collection – and the one that gives it its name – proved to be the one I enjoyed less, despite its interesting premise: it starts with the drama of a ship, carrying a huge number of people in suspended animation, that’s attacked by pirates who proceed to kill the sleepers to retrieve any implants they might be carrying. The ship’s captain, barely escaping with her life, starts a long chase of the pirates and of her former first officer who joined them.
The dogged pursuit goes on along centuries and then millennia, as the two cheat time through suspended animation first and then through other means devised to sustain their conscience, while the galaxy is threatened by the expansion wave of sentient machines intent on creating Dyson spheres around suns, all the while destroying the organic life in those systems.
While both the chase and the encroaching danger are fascinating themes, for some reason I felt removed from the characters depicted in this story: it might be because I could not connect with them, since they seemed to me only approximately sketched – unlike other characters in preceding stories – and also because the narrative form, which is a series of events stretched across a huge time-span and presented in loosely related flashes, did not help either.
Still, the concept remain fascinating and it ties well with other threads in the Revelation Space trilogy, which convinces me that a re-read of Reynolds’ main work is in order, since I’ve come to believe that a revisitation might offer insights that eluded me in that first, now long-past first read.