Swimming with Pattern Jugglers

I finished Absolution Gap this morning, after furiously reading it the past two days.  The end was absolutely incredible, and a wonderful way to conclude the trilogy.  Alastair Reynolds’ matured in writing this book, even more so than from Redemption Ark.  The narrative was tight, while still containing all that neat astronomy and science-fiction description that I so enjoy.  I loved how, in the end, many loose end were tied up and you really weren’t left wondering too many questions about what happened to characters or places.  Which is not to say the end did not raise questions, it did, but they were questions about going forward, not questions about things a reader would want/need to know about the characters in the story in order to feel a sense of closure and completeness.

The ideas in this novel were big, as befits a space opera, and they were sufficiently alien.  That’s one thing I admire about Reynolds’ universe, the aliens are very alien, not just little, green men.  They are so alien as to be unknowable.  I suspect, if we ever encounter intelligent life beyond Earth, that it/they will be more like this than like the Star Trek version of things.

I enjoyed how much the ship, Nostalgia for Infinity, became a character in its own right, for a variety of reasons, but not the least of which was the slow but total assimilation of the ship’s captain into the ship via the melding plague. 

I appreciated how Reynolds’ paid attention to the passing of time, enormous amounts of time, and it effects on the characters and how their motivations changed.  The chief, excellent, example of that was Scorpio.  His was perhaps the most complete character arc in the whole trilogy.  By the end, he was my favorite character.

It is incredible to me, and I don’t know why it should be after all the times I’ve experienced it, how much a good book demands that you read it.  The last book I was reading, I disliked so much that I loathed picking it up.  Absoluti0n Gap seemed to go out of its way to find itself open in my hands.  It’s the kind of book that makes you late for work. 

I look forward to reading the rest of Reynolds’ corpus of literature, but I will be somewhat sad to leave the Revelation Space universe – I was just coming to understand it.

Next, sticking to the sci-fi genre, I’m picking up Iain M. Banks The Player of Games.


2 thoughts on “Swimming with Pattern Jugglers

  1. I seem to be one book behind you with Alastair Reynolds and one book ahead with Iain M. Banks. I’ve enjoyed your words on both – thanks. I’m going to have a detour to China Mieville and then start on the Use of Weapons.

  2. Thanks, Jean! I think Reynolds and Banks are the best practicioners of sci-fi space opera out there, the former in the dystopian realm and the latter in the utopian realm. Both fascinating visions of possible futures!

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