Reynolds, Alastair 1966-
Reynolds, Alastair 1966-
PERSONAL: Born 1966, in Barry, South Wales, Great Britain. Education: St. Andrews University, Ph.D.; post-doctoral studies at Utrecht University, 1994-96. Hobbies and other interests: Movies, horses, playing guitar, beer, photographs of old steam engines.
ADDRESSES: Home—The Netherlands. Agent—PFD, Drury House, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HA, England.
CAREER: European Space Agency, Leiden, Netherlands, astrophysicist, 1991-94, contractor, 1996-2004; full-time writer, 2004-
AWARDS, HONORS: British Science Fiction Award, 2001, for Chasm City.
Diamond Dogs; Turquoise Days (novellas), Berkley Publishing Group (New York, NY), 2005.
Chasing Janus (novel), Gollancz (London, England), 2005.
Contributor of short stories to numerous publications, including Interzone, Asimov's Science Fiction, and Spectrum. Short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, including In Dreams, edited by Paul J. McAuley and Kim Newsman, Gollancz, 1992; The Mammoth Book of Best New Science Fiction 11th Annual Collection, 1997; and Years' Best Science Fiction, annual anthologies, 1998, 200-02, all edited by Garner Dozois; The Ant Men of Tibet and Other Stories, Interzone, 2001; Mars Probes, edited by Peter Crowther, Daw Books, 2002; and Infinities, edited by Peter Crowther, Orion Books, 2002.
Reynolds' fiction has been translated into several languages, including Japanese, German, Czech, and Italian.
"REVELATION SPACE" SERIES; SCIENCE FICTION
Revelation Space, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Chasm City, Gollancz (London, England), 2001, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Redemption Ark, Gollancz (London, England), 2002, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Absolution Gap, Gollancz (London, England), 2003, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Century Rain, Gollancz (London, England), 2004, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2005.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Pushing Ice, a novel about space exploration and first contact, expected completion in October, 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Alastair Reynolds worked for years as an astrophysicist while writing on the side before committing himself full-time to writing in 2004 with an already-established reputation for his work. The author's first four novels comprise his "Revelation Space" series. In the first book, Revelation Space, the author sets the stage five hundred years in the future. Archaeologist Dan Sylvest is researching what destroyed the ancient Amarantin civilization on a distant planet. Meanwhile, he is being sought out as the only person who can cure the captain of the huge spaceship Nostalgia for Infinity. Assassin Ana Khouri, who has been hired by "Mademoiselle" to kill Sylvest, has managed to get on board the ship. Writing on SFSignal.com Web site, a reviewer thought that Reynold had "a very stiff writing style," but added that the story "included lots of cool plot twists, surprises, and revelations." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote, "Clearly intoxicated by cutting-edge scientific research—in bioengineering, space physics, cybernetics—Reynolds spins [a] ravishingly inventive tale of intrigue." And Manchester Guardian reviewer Jon Courtenay Grimwood asserted that, based on this debut, "Alastair Reynolds is a name to watch."
Chasm City, which takes place in the "Revelation Space" world, focuses on a city caught in the grasp of a virus that attacks both people and machines. Security expert Tanner Mirabel has traveled to the planet of Yellowstone to track the murderers of his late employers. After awakening at the end of the voyage with the temporary amnesia common following suspended animation used for long-distance space travel, Mirabel also discovers that he has a virus that is causing him to imagine the previous life of the historic figure Sky Haussman, complete with revelations about Haussman's dark side.
Writing in the Science Fiction Chronicle, Don D'Ammassa commented that "Chasm City is one of the strangest metropolises you'll every visit, fictionally or otherwise, and its inhabitants are nearly as bizarre." The critic continued, "Haussman's story moves with a relentless sense of dread toward a series of startling revelations." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel a "worthy follow-up" and "an especially intelligent far-future foray." And Ray Olson, writing in Booklist, called Chasm City an "intoxicating draught of cutting-edge biology."
A direct sequel to the first novel, Redemption Ark continues the series with a story about the return of the exploration ship, its dead occupants, and the investigators' efforts to discover what killed them. Only a few people know what the crews' mission was, and the investigation is complicated by the sentient weapons on the Nostalgia for Infinity, that may threaten the existence of all life. "Told with skill and an attention to detail," according to Library Journal contributor Jackie Cassada, "this space opera series belongs in most sf collections." In a review for the Manchester Guardian, M. John Harrison felt that while the novel could do with more "humanity," it takes readers on "a turbulent, wildly entertaining ride, a kind of intellectual X-Games in which, strapped to a skateboard, you aim yourself voluntarily, feet-first, at the nearest star." And Booklist critic Roland Green concluded that "skilled narrative technique and well-developed characters make this a novel most readers will find absorbing."
The final book in the "Revelation Space" series, Absolution Gap, finds the sentient weapons known as the Inhibitors out to destroy the human race. A space abnormality known as the "Absolution Gap," which involves a planet that can disappear, is discovered and may offer the only hope to defeat the Inhibitors. Although he felt the plot moves too slowly, Don D'Ammassa, added in the Radford, England Chronicle that "the novel is as inventive as its predecessors, with interesting characters, well realized exotic settings, and a nicely developed sense of wonder." A Publishers Weekly contributor judged the book "a fitting finale to the series, a landmark in hard SF space opera."
Reynolds left his series to write Diamond Dogs; Turquoise Days, which contains two novellas. In "Diamond Dogs," Reynolds takes the reader to a world threatened with destruction from an alien artifact called the Blood Spire, a building with a maze of rooms that can only be opened by solving a complex mathematical problem; a wrong answer is lethal. The novella follows a group of mercenaries as they try to unravel the building's secrets. Writing in MBR Bookwatch, Harriet Klausner said, "This exhilarating … outer space caper feels more like a gothic planetary noir with fabulous amoral mercenary antiheroes." The other novella, "Turquoise Days," takes place in an aquatic world where semi-sentient beings rule. An evil star-ship crew is looking to use the Jugglers, microscopic life forms in the seas of the planet Turquoise who can affect consciousness, to create an army of religious fanatics. Writing again in the Radford Chronicle, D'Ammassa asserted, "Both [novellas] are excellent adventures."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, John Mort, review of Chasm City, p. 1313; April 15, 2002, Ray Olson, review of Chasm City, p. 1387; June 1, 2003, Roland Green, review of Redemption Ark, p. 1755.
Bookseller, April 12, 2002, "Gollancz Takes Second Science Fiction Award," p. 6.
Chronicle (Radford, England), May, 2003, Don D'Ammassa, review of Absolution Gap, p. 40; April, 2004, Don D'Ammassa, review of Diamond Dogs; Turquoise Days, p. 34.
Guardian (Manchester, England), October 14, 2000, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, review of Revelation Space, p. 10; August 10, 2002, M. John Harrison, review of Redemption Ark, p. 21; December 20, 2003, review of Absolution Gap, p. 28.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2004, review of Diamond Dogs; Turquoise Days, p. 1126.
Library Bookwatch, February, 2005, review of Diamond Dogs; Turquoise Days.
Library Journal, April 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Chasm City, p. 128; May 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of Redemption Ark, p. 131; January 1, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of Diamond Dogs; Turquoise Days, p. 103.
MBR Bookwatch, January, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Diamond Dogs; Turquoise Days.
Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2001, review of Revelation Space, p. 55; March 11, 2002, review of Chasm City, p. 56; May 31, 2004, review of Absolution Gap, p. 56; November 29, 2004, review of Diamond Dogs; Turquoise Days, p. 27.
Science Fiction Chronicle, September, 2001, Don D'Ammassa, review of Revelation Space, p. 40; September, 2001, Don D'Ammassa, review of Chasm City, p. 41.
Alastair Reynolds Home Page, http://www.alastair reynolds.com (March 8, 2005).
American Book Center, http://www.abc.nl/ (March 8, 2005), interview with Reynolds.
Fantastic Fiction, http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (March 8, 2005), "Alastair Reynolds."
Penguin Group Web site, http://www.penguinputnam.com/ (March 8, 2005).
SF Reviews, http://www.sfreviews.com/ (March 8, 2005), reviews of Redemption Ark and Revelation Space.
SFSignal, http://www.sfsignal.com/ (March 8, 2005), reviews of Absolution Gap and Revelation Space.
Wolfman Knew My Father, http://homepage.ntlworld.com/elizabeth.ercocklly/front.htm/ (March 8, 2005), Anthony Brockway, interview with Reynolds.
Zone, http:///www.zone-sf.com/ (March 8, 2005), interview with Reynolds.