Alastair Reynolds

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Alastair Reynolds in 2010

Alastair Reynolds is a Welsh author of a number of sci-fi novels, which have the tendency to be about as far up Mohs Scale of Sci Fi Hardness as it's possible to get while still remaining recognizably Space Opera. Of particular note is the total lack of Faster-Than-Light Travel in most of his books, despite their interstellar settings, and the extreme cultural divergences shown.

Most of his books take place in the Revelation Space universe, where by the 26th century humans have achieved slower-than-light interstellar travel, and find themselves needing to discover why all the other intelligent species they find evidence of seem to have gone mysteriously extinct.

Works written by Alastair Reynolds include:

The Revelation Space series:

  • Revelation Space
  • Redemption Ark
  • Absolution Gap
  • Chasm City: A prequel to Revelation Space
  • The Prefect: A prequel to Chasm City, before the Melding Plague.
  • Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days: a pair of unrelated novellas
  • Galactic North: A series of short stories in the Revelation Space universe.

Non-RS novels and short-story collections by Reynolds:

  • Poseidon's Children trilogy
    • Blue Remembered Earth
  • Pushing Ice
  • Century Rain
  • the Lines universe
  • Terminal World
  • Zima Blue and Other Stories: A collection of short stories.
  • Deep Navigation: A collection of short stories.
Reynolds' Non-RS works feature the following tropes:
  • Alternate History: A pseudo-version of this is is used in the novel Century Rain, with Earth-Two, an exact copy of planet Earth in a different part of the Galaxy, on which the only difference is a 1940s-50s level of society and technology and the non-existance of World War Two. It is later revealed to be one of many 'quantum snapshots' of Earth at different time periods, all done by a mysterious missing alien race.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Blue Remembered Earth. The weird bit is that the mind reader is an elephant.
  • Brown Note: Comes in song format in the short story Digital to Analogue.
  • Dieselpunk: In a Film Noir variation, the quantum "snapshot" Earth in Century Rain.
  • Dreadful Musician: Averted in Century Rain: in an early scene the protagonist is walking into a superior's office while he plays a violin, with her Internal Monologue noting how grating and painful the music is. It is then revealed that she, along with a large portion of the rest of the human race, were infected with a designer-disease called 'amusica', which prevented people from enjoying music, to ruin their side's morale. After all, someone who can't appreciate music can't get patriotic fervor from their anthems, now can they?
  • Eldritch Abomination: Doubtless whatever it is that exists outside the megastructure in Pushing Ice.
  • Emergency Transformation : In Pushing Ice, near the end, Bella is killed and her brain damaged to the point that it can no longer be reconstructed, until Svetlana tells the alien doctors to fill in the gaps with her own brain patterns. This brings her back, but as a confused amalgam of two people.
  • Grey Goo: Caused the abandonment of Earth in Century Rain; one type of nanobots in the air to affect weather patterns went rogue, so they made nanobots to combat those, which went rogue, and so on and so forth. The Grey Goo is then weaponized decades later by the descendants of the survivors and used as a weapon of mass destruction.
  • Mechanical Evolution: Played with in Zima Blue. Zima was originally a pool cleaning robot, who was upgraded over decades by the descendants of his creator. Eventually, he does the upgrades on his own.
  • Neo Africa : One of the primary settings of his latest novel, Blue Remembered Earth.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: In the short story Beyond the Aquila Rift, ships travel between worlds using an abandoned FTL network. The ships need to carry millions of tiny screens which project "runes" onto the ship's exterior, which the alien portal network interprets as where the ship wants to go.
  • Punny Name : The Rockhopper mining spacecraft from Pushing Ice. Its mascot is the eponymous cute species of penguin and... you know... the ship's routine flights involve "hopping" from one asteroid or comet to the next.
  • Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: Lampshaded in Century Rain:

"We call it a quantum snapshot, but that doesn't mean we have clue one about what was involved in producing it. That's just a name we give it to hide our ignorance."