In this worthy follow-up to his well-received first novel, Revelation Space (2001), an especially intelligent far-future foray, British author Reynolds transmutes space opera into a noirish, baroque, picaresque mystery tale. Honor requires that Tanner Mirabel, a weapons specialist/bodyguard, track down and destroy the man who killed his boss. Tanner's pursuit takes him to the planet Yellowstone, where a nano-plague has mutated the glittering human cultural showcase of Chasm City into something bizarre, dark and extremely dangerous. He's aided or threatened—or both, at different times—by a host of human and not-quite-human characters. Relying on his own combat skills and hard-boiled attitude, Tanner keeps seeking revenge even though he begins to wonder why he's doing it, especially after intrusions of other people's memories lead him to suspect he's not who he thinks he is. Inventiveness and tone are Reynolds's strong points. Presented in a sustained burst of weirdness, the novel's details are consistently startling but convincing in context, and the loose ends eventually tie neatly together. The narrator's tough-guy stance works too, both as an expression of Tanner's personality and as a defensive reaction to the setting's intimidating strangeness. Think of a combination of the movie Blade Runner and one of Jack Vance's ironic SF adventure novels. If the ending feels a bit flat, that's probably inevitable after the exuberant display of wonders earlier. Reynolds remains one of the hottest new SF writers around. (Apr. 2)
Forecast: Science Fiction Chronicle chose Revelation Space as Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year; Locus selected it as one of its Best First Novels of the Year. Expect this one to receive similar kudos.
Release date: 04/01/2002