So I got into Alastair Reynolds. A while ago, I stumbled over Redemption Ark, found the blurb on the back interesting, and bought it. After reading it, I went back and bought Pushing Ice, too. After that I decided that I liked the guy and that it's time I started to approach this systematically. :) So here's my questions:

  1. I have, so far, found five somewhat independent novels, plus the Revelation Space sequence. The five are

    • Chasm City
    • Century Rain
    • Pushing Ice
    • The Prefect
    • House of Suns

    Of those five, I know that The Prefect is rooted in the Revelation Space universe, and by its title I can tell that Chasm City is so, too. I know that Pushing Ice isn't.

    What about the other two, Century Rain and House of Suns? Do they fit into Revelation Space universe as well?

  2. In The Prefect the habitats around Yellowstone are still known as the Glitter Band, while in Redemption Ark, #2 of the Revelation Space sequence, they are known as the Rust Belt. Now that I try to approach this more systematically, I have started with #1 of the Revelation Space sequence, Revelation Space, among other expectations hoping to learn more about the event leading to this transformation. (The occurrence of the, um, Melding Plague?) However, it's already called the Rust Belt in that book, so the event must have happened earlier.

    Is this described in detail in House of Suns?
    (If so, then that would partly answer the first question as well.)

  3. Is the third of the Revelation Space sequence, Absolution Gap, the conclusion of a trilogy or just the third step in an (as yet?) open-ended sequence?


2 Answers 2


Alastair Reynolds is an amazing writer (except for his inability to finish stories). However, he very much likes to write in a way where the reader is thrown into a universe without knowing the mechanics and the history and has to figure things as they go. This can either be ok or really annoying. I actually like it, though he has, in practice, put spoilers into the story.

The publication order doesn't match the chronology In addition, thanks to time story threads and relativity, it's hard to determine chronological order. In fact, the moment of transformation is not described in any of the novels (AFAIK). You are left to imagine how fast or when exactly it happened.

I would suggest reading all of the Revelation Space books together. I started with Revalation space, then read Chasm City, then went to the sequel pair. If I remember correctly, the order for what I consider the "main series" is "revelation space", "redemption ark", and "absolution gap". Absolution pretty much ends the story, if I remember correctly. Though he could always continue - Peter Hamilton pulled this trick very nicely.

Chasm city takes place separately (and is a great book otherwise) and I found it enjoyable after Revelation Space where I already knew what happens to the band. Then I read Diamond Dogs (short story) which relates to Chasm City. There are also related stories in Galactic North.

The Prefect takes place in the glitter band earlier, and just mentions something bad happening in the future (the conjoiners appear in that book as well). I read it later.

Reynolds' other books are each standalone in a different universie - Century Rain is about alternate worlds, Pushing Ice is close-to-modern-day and seems like a Rama tribute. House of suns is weaker and plays with extremely long periods of time (galaxy spanning). Terminal World talks about an earth in the future with "Zones" (a-la Vernor Vinge).

As for your second question - The Melding Plague is the name of the transformation. The Rust belt is what happens to the glitter band after the plague. You won't get a good idea of what happened - Just of life before and after. Reynolds makes these places seem "alive".

  • Thanks for the thorough explanation! I, too, like to be thrown into the middle of events. When a writer does this right, it feels like a real universe you are thrown into, where you will only ever get small excerpts of the whole thing explained in any story told, because a real universe is way too big to be wholly explained. (IMO Tolkien did that very well.) Since I already started in the middle of the Revelation Space sequence, I can't change that. But I'm planning to read the other two books now.
    – sbi
    Feb 12, 2011 at 7:53
  • I think Terminal World was based on a post terraformed Mars? I remember references to the three volcanoes (one of which is Olympus Mons)...
    – rnoodle
    Aug 30, 2018 at 7:09
  • @rnoodle There is also a reference to Spirit and Opportunity, and an oblique one about years being shorter in the mythical past, so yes, definitely Mars.
    – Eth
    Apr 3, 2019 at 14:27
  • "Alastair Reynolds is an amazing writer (except for his inability to finish stories)." - could Mr. Reynolds be Stephen King in disguise?
    – Spratty
    Jun 24, 2020 at 10:33

I read Chasm City first (a standalone set in the Revelation Space universe) and then Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap. I then read Century Rain and Pushing Ice. I have yet to read The Prefect, House of Suns and Terminal World.

Since you've started in the middle, and knowing what I know about the series. I would recommend reading in order Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap, Chasm City and The Prefect. Immersing myself in those 5 novels in that order would an excellent experience indeed.

  • Sry that should've been Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap group together in order of reading. I have fixed that above as well.
    – Dan Geiser
    Feb 17, 2011 at 17:35

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