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Looking for the title of a book in which nanomachines create city buildings, skyscrapers, and the like. But there was a virus that hit the nanomachines, and at some point they started creating buildings that were more like... abstract art, I guess? Many of which weren't conducive for people to actually use.

It also included interstellar travel, but limited to the speed of light. Put into hypersleep, one woman is mistakenly put on the wrong ship and sent to a different system/galaxy than her husband, who she could then never see again because it would take more than a lifetime for one of them to travel to the other.

Edit: I believe this should not be marked as a duplicate. Despite the same book being the answer to both, the questions themselves don't share any of the same details

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    When did you read this? Why couldn't the husband/wife go back into sleep?
    – DavidW
    Mar 1, 2023 at 18:17
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    Questions are duplicates if they have the same answer.
    – DavidW
    Mar 6, 2023 at 21:24
  • I don't see that definition stated anywhere on scifi.stackexchange.com/help/duplicate. "Where does Keanu Reeves live?" and "What is the largest city in California?" are clearly different questions, regardless of the answer being the same
    – automaton
    Mar 6, 2023 at 21:50
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    The SF&F site has a specific policy for duplicate story-id questions; essentially if the answer to two different questions is confirmed to be the same work, then the questions are duplicates.
    – DavidW
    Mar 6, 2023 at 21:56
  • That link is to a meta question that states that it "seems to be generally agreed..." which is not policy. Can you link me to something official?
    – automaton
    Mar 6, 2023 at 22:10

1 Answer 1

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This is Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds.

The character of Khouri is blackmailed into a mission by a mysterious criminal mastermind. Her husband was (supposedly) accidentally rerouted to another system and would be many decades older than she, if indeed he's still alive.

‘Enough. That your husband was a soldier as well - a man named Fazil - and that you fought together on Sky’s Edge. And then something happened. A clerical error. You were put aboard a ship destined for Yellowstone. No one realised the error until you woke up here, twenty years later. Too late by then to return to the Edge - even if you knew Fazil was still alive. He would be forty years older by the time you got back.’

‘Now you know why becoming an assassin didn’t exactly give me any sleepless nights.’

The entire story (and indeed the entire book series) is set against the background of a nanomachine virus called the 'melding plague'.

The city stretched away infinitely in all directions, it seemed, a dense wood of gnarled interlaced buildings gradually lost in murk. The very oldest structures were still more or less intact: boxlike buildings which had retained their shapes during the plague because they had never contained any systems of self-repair or redesign. The modern structures, by contrast, now resembled odd, up-ended pieces of driftwood or wizened old trees in the last stages of rot. Once those skyscrapers had looked linear and symmetrical, until the plague made them grow madly, sprouting bulbous protrusions and tangled, leprous appendages. The buildings were all dead now, frozen into the shapes which seemed calculated to induce disquiet. Slums adhered to their sides, lower levels lost in a scaffolded maze of shanty towns and ramshackle bazaars, aglow with naked fires. Tiny figures were moving in the slums, walking or rickshawing to business along haphazard roadways laid down over old ruins. There were very few powered vehicles, and most of the contraptions Khouri saw looked like they were steam-driven.

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  • Chasm City seems to more explicitly reference all of the warped buildings.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 1, 2023 at 18:31
  • @FuzzyBoots - I read these books in a giant collection and they all just kind of blur together for me. I'm just hunting down some quotes now
    – Valorum
    Mar 1, 2023 at 19:18
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    @FuzzyBoots - At this stage I'm fairly convinced that OP has read Revelation Space and not the later novels. They've not mentioned anything that's in Chasm City or Redemption Ark.
    – Valorum
    Mar 1, 2023 at 19:24
  • @Valorum That is correct- the friend on whose behalf I'm asking said that he didn't finish the book, due to his mother stealing it, and father stealing it once she had finished :)
    – automaton
    Mar 1, 2023 at 21:35
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    And confirmed, this was indeed the book he was thinking of
    – automaton
    Mar 1, 2023 at 21:43

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