Juggling Patterns

Absolution Gap, Alastair Reynolds, ISBN 0575074345

This picks up the story of Clavain, Scorpio et al some time after the events of Redemption Ark (and you should certainly have read that and previously Revelation Space before starting on this).

The war with the Inhibitors is in full swing (and it's not going too well). The doctrinal viruses alluded to in the previous books come into new importance, with a carrier discovering and taking control of something odd and significant (which of course turns out to be the a major object of quest and contention).

A couple of new major characters are introduced, and they go quite well until the slightly clumsy infighting with their allies, though eventually this gets sidelinded with by much the same kind of big skip to the end that rather marred the later parts of Redemption Ark. The ending is dramatic, satisfying and well-written, and while the resolution of the trilogy's story as a whole leaves a number of interesting open questions, once you put together the information from the previous books it does work.

My main criticism is that it's not quite clear why the final, key decision goes as it does: it's at the end of a rather loose chain of reasoning, some of it little better than supposition and very new to the people making the decision (some of it requires stuff from Chasm City that they would be unlikely to know to be convincing, for instance).

Further discussion of the full story, with copious spoilers. Don't follow the link unless you've read all of Revelation Space, Chasm City, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap.


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