I'm looking for information on the origins/causes of the Melding Plague.

  • Is the specific cause in the books (and I just missed it) ?
  • Is there any other information from Reynolds (interviews, short-stories, etc) ?
  • Any sources out on the web my searches might have missed ?

1 Answer 1


In Chasm City, pioneer Marcos Ferris says that the ancient alien Grub Gideon brought the Melding Plague to Yellowstone after getting trapped while hiding from the Inhibitors. Ferris goes on to explain the Plague's origins in this Chasm City passage:

"Did he[Gideon] know he had it?" I asked.
"I very much doubt it. The plague was probably something he carried without even knowing it; an old infection to which he had long since adapted"

From Races in Revelation Space in the Grubs subsection:

Another grub crash-landed on Yellowstone millions of years ago,and was still alive during the events of the novel Chasm City (though it was dead by the time of Redemption Ark). Examining the wreckage of this second grub's ship helped humans to recreate its inertia-suppression technology. It was this grub that brought the Melding Plague to Yellowstone. The grubs appear to be immune to the plague, probably because of the plague-preventative agent that is produced by them. This liquid was concentrated and distilled into a form that was agreeable with the human metabolism, and was one way of protecting plague-susceptible implants and nanotechnology.

It seems like the Melding Plague's origins are wrapped up with the origins of the Grubs. The people on this forum thread The Melding Plague (Alastair Reynolds) Possible spoilers seem to be of the same opinion.

While I have only read Revelation Space, from what I gather there is no explicit statement about the precise time and place where the virus was created. Much like in Day of the Triffids and some other Post-Apocalyptic stories the reason behind the apocalypse is kept intentionally obscure so that it is all the more terrifying and curiosity-inspiring. Also it allows authors to focus on the visceral day-to-day lives of the characters rather than the conditions that put them there.

  • 1
    Chasm City also includes another encounter with the Grubs: one has taken over the 6th ship of the generation fleet on its way to colonise Sky's Edge, with effects grossly similar to those seen in Yellowstone.
    – Richard
    Mar 22, 2011 at 8:09
  • 1
    since you mentioned spoilers, I changed the formatting. Hope this helps. Mar 22, 2011 at 11:10
  • 1
    @WikisCommitAtArea51: Yes it does, thx! Mar 22, 2011 at 13:40
  • 8
    @Richard I don't believe that the grub took over the ship and that it was transformed by the plague. As far as I know, there was never actually a 6th ship, and the Grub was just tailing them and mimicking the style of the humans colanization vessels with it's organic ship.
    – user5195
    Mar 7, 2012 at 8:03
  • 2
    Another possibility regarding the melding plague is that it is not a nanotech virus that the grubs had developed immunity to, but rather actual useful grub nanotechnology (controlled with dream fuel) that simply reacts badly with human nanotechnology. Mar 8, 2012 at 12:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.