Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds

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Book Information  
AuthorAlastair Reynolds
TitleAbsolution Gap
SeriesUniverse of Revelation Space
GenreScience Fiction
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Archren 
(Jul 21, 2006)

The three titles in this trilogy: “Revelation Space,” “Redemption Ark” and “Absolution Gap” indicate the weightiness of the epic plot lines that are woven therein. In each book we do get revelations, redemption and absolution, although not always for the same characters throughout. Even in this one book the plot spans almost two hundred years (there are three plotlines running concurrently until near the end where the later two converge); over the entire trilogy it must be at least five centuries. Not all the characters from the first book have made it this far, and some new ones join us for this final push.

The focus of the entire epic, to the extent there is one, is the role of the ship Nostalgia for Infinity in the battle against the “Inhibitors.” These are alien machines that seem to exist to prevent any space-faring culture from expanding into the galaxy. They’re a little rusty, and humans colonize dozens of worlds before they come for us. With incredible high-tech weapons and a lot of luck, the ever-shifting crew of Nostalgia try to aid humanity’s survival.

In that sense the ending is a little anticlimactic (a seeming dues ex machine is invoked, which was disappointing), but really the journey is the important part here. Throughout the trilogy, each book contained vignettes that would easily be stand-alone novels in their own right. The Inhibitors war was really only consistent wallpaper. The same is true here. Characters’ individual stories get resolved. Some characters who are introduced only in this volume also lend powerful arcs to the overall tapestry. Oddly enough Reynolds occasionally allows the plot to hiccup in favor of the character arcs, sometimes writing scenes that are totally random in order to illuminate a character more clearly.

There’s plenty here for the tech-geek though, don’t worry! A whole new round of technological innovation accompanies the battles in this concluding volume, as well as some brane theory of universes and some stellar engineering. And the amazing texture that Reynolds gives his future, where almost nothing is shiny and lots of things are old and don’t work right, is continued throughout.

It’s hard to know what to say upon the conclusion of this huge, sprawling science fiction epic. After three books, an enormous cast of characters, too many crises to count, planets, weapons, religions, how can it possibly be summed up? This epic is not for the casual reader: I read the three books over the course of three years, but I wish I’d read them back-to-back. Hopefully someday I will. It would have made following the characters and their nuances a little easier. If you have the option, either read these within close proximity or go back and read the first two before starting this one.

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