I'm new here. I am going to start reading the Revelation Space books. Can someone please suggest me a reading order of the books? I'd like to know the characters before the main trilogy, but if some books chronologically precede the main books, and have greater impact by reading afterwards, I'd like that.
It's never a mistake to read books in publication order, especially if you intend to read them all.
There is no in-story chronological order to the books, because most of them combine several time streams, sometimes centuries apart.
The events of Revelation Space and Chasm City overlap. The two books are independent, you can read them in either order.
Redemption Ark can be read without having read the other two, however you do meet characters from the first two books. With Chasm City, it's not very important, so you can read RA without having read CC. On the other hand, the characters and events from RS are an important preamble to RA, so I don't recommend skipping RS.
Absolution Gap is a direct sequel to Redemption Ark. Read RA first.
The Prefect was published last of the five novels, but it takes place before the main action of the other four. TP is set before the Melding Plague, whereas the others (except for lengthy flashbacks) are set after. You can read it independently.
The short stories are set all over the timeline. None of them are necessary to read the novels, even when the events of the novels follow those of the short story. A couple of short stories are sequels to the novels, and should be read afterwards.
- “Great Wall of Mars” and “Glacial” precede Redemption Ark both in-story and publication-wise, but you can read RA first. If I haven't missed anything, they're the only two stories that are connected to the plots of the novels, the others are merely set in the same universe.
- “Weather” is best read after Revelation Space, and “Grafenwalder's Bestiary” and “Nightingale” after Chasm City.
- The novellas Diamond Dogs and Turquoise Days can be read at any time, but I recommend reading RS and CC first to establish the scenery.
So my recommendation is to read the novels in publication order, and the novellas and short story afterwards or mixed in publication order.
Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space Universe Suggested Reading Order
• “Great Wall of Mars
• “A Spy in Europa”
• The Prefect (?) – see explanation below
• “Dilation Sleep”
• Chasm City
• Revelation Space
• “Diamond Dogs”
• “Grafenwalder’s Bestiary”
• Redemption Ark
• “Turquoise Days”
• Absolution Gap
• “Galactic North”
• The Prefect (?) – see explanation below
This list is not based on publication order, or even necessarily on internal chronology. Rather, it is based on what stories explain/introduce characters/events/concepts that are referred to in ‘later’ stories. That is to say, this is the order that makes the most sense to a first time reader. For example, one can read Redemption Ark before “Great Wall of Mars” and “Glacial” and still understand what’s going on with Clavain and the Conjoiners, but it makes more sense to read these short stories first. I will now explain my reasons for this order in greater detail.
• The first three short stories (G.W.o.M, Gl., A.S.i.E) introduce the Conjoiners and the Demarchists, two of the main human factions. Also introduced are the characters Clavain, Felka, Remontoire, and Galiana.
• “Dilation Sleep” introduces Ultras and fleshes out how slower-than-light travel links the worlds in the R.S. Universe. Also references Sylveste family and the Melding Plague.
• I put Chasm City before Revelation Space because it is more of a straight-forward human scale story which briefly touches on the mind numbing time scales and the galactic wide threat that is the focus of the main Inhibitor Trilogy (R.S, R.A., A.G.). Also, C.C. introduces Khouri and Mirabel.
• “Diamond Dogs” is set in Chasm City (partly), and Nightingale takes place on Sky’s Edge after the events of C.C. (fall of the elevator). “Grafenwalder’s Bestiary” has to be read after “D.D.” and “A.S.i.E.”, since the Denizens and Dr. Trintignant were introduced in those stories.
• “Weather” and “Turquoise Days” are between R.A. and A.G., but can be read in either order. W. after R.A. because we have a crested Conjoiner first introduced in R.A., and T.D. before A.G. because the reveal of Pattern Jugglers as capable of conscious (and dramatic) action is a bigger reveal in T.D. than in A.G.
• “Galactic North” was actually written before any of the novels, and Remontoire’s capture by the pig pirate Run Seven is referenced in R.A., but it extends much farther into the future than A.G., and also explains the origin of Greenfly. A.G. has a somewhat ambiguous ending, hinting that the Shadows (beings who ran from Greenfly) might not be from a separate brane, but are in fact superfuture humanity. G.N. basically confirms this.
• Ah, The Prefect, how you vex me. Written years after end of inhibitor Trilogy, T.P. is set in pre-Melding Plague Yellowstone. References Lascaille and the Shrouders, Sylveste and the Eighty, the Conjoiner technologies of Exordium and the hell-class weapons, and the coming ‘time of plague’. It also goes into the debate on the sanctity of beta-levels as conscious entities or clever automata, which is referenced in R.S. All the references make sense if you’ve read the other books, but I’m not sure if they’d be good foreshadowing if read before the other novels, or if they’d be spoiler-ish. I’m also not sure if seeing the glory of pre-plague Yellowstone has a bigger punch before C.C. or after the whole series. It’s your choice to read after everything, or between A.S.i.E and D.S.