Alastair Reynolds - The Prefect

Brian G Turner

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Another SF book spotted in the charity shop - Alastair Reynolds, The Prefect.

A decent introduction to Reynolds, or should I look for something else by him?
 

clovis-man

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Another SF book spotted in the charity shop - Alastair Reynolds, The Prefect.

A decent introduction to Reynolds, or should I look for something else by him?
It's an excellent introduction to Reynold's Revelation Space series. It is actually a prequel of sorts, so you wouldn't be jumping into the middle of an arc. I would actually recommend getting a copy of Galactic North as well. A series of short stories which provides some insights into the Conjoiner/Demarchist dichotomy that is a major part of the Revelation Space saga. Moreover, The Prefect is a very good read.
 

Glitch

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I've read and enjoyed several Reynolds books, including The Prefect. Personally my favourite is Pushing Ice.

The Prefect will give you a feel of his Revelation Space series. Whereas Pushing Ice is a standalone and has nothing to do with Revelation Space.

Galactic North is a collection of short stories and was my introduction to Reynolds. I recall liking the first few stories more than the last ones. Enough though to continue with the author.
 

Ursa major

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I'd recommend avoiding reading Galactic North before the main Revelation Space trilogy (but recommend Chasm City, which I wish I'd read before Revelation Space).

Starting with The Prefect, though, is fine. :)
 

Soltan_Gris

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The Prefect is my favorite novel by Reynolds and is an entirely appropriate starting point into the Revelation Space universe. It's a superbly constructed work of detective science fiction, but it does lack the immense worldbuilding of some of the other novels. And to piggyback on what clovis-man said, Galactic North may be the best starting point, as it will introduce you to the various factions you'll encounter in the RS universe.
 

cyberpunkdreams

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I start with the trilogy myself, but I don't see any reason not to start with The Prefect or Chasm City. As others have said, I'd recommend leaving Galactic North to last though, as it ties together a lot of threads from the other short stories and novels. Not exactly spoiler material, but the final gloss. I also loved Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days.
 

ralphkern

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The Prefect is, barring a few short stories and parts of the novella Galactic North the first in the Revelation Space series chronologically. It's a good start.

My partner rather cheekily obtained one of his later drafts of the Prefect and kindly he signed it up with some encouraging words. (And a rather good little sketch). He's a nice chap.

House of Suns and Pushing Ice are also excellent stand alones. Incidentally Pushing Ice is another Fermi Paradox novel.
 

clovis-man

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Brian G Turner

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I've started this, and am only a few chapters in. But so far, I'm left feeling that I'm reading a SF book from the 1970's - people are using "diskettes" for storing data, and people have physical jacks for hooking up to computers. Yet my copy says the book was published in 2007 - a year when wi-fi and internet had become ordinary.

I'm left feeling that I'm reading a book that seeks to ape Golden Age SF, rather than provide a possible vision of the future. I had that same problem with Iain M Bank's Consider Phlebas.

Still, I'll continue with it, and see what develops.
 

Ray McCarthy

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My newest computer uses a large SD card instead of Diskettes. I do still have to occasionally use 3.5" floppies. I gave away my 8" drive two years ago.

WiFi though is only for mobility, if you have a Cat5e cable with auto 100/1000 Mbits it's preferable. The 54Mbps to 250Mbps of WiFi is shared and can easily be an erratic 1Mbps.

Sounds odd.
Either written by someone with little computer knowledge or spent a long time trying to get published.
2007 - a year when wi-fi and internet had become ordinary.
I used Internet from 1988, and Web Browser from about 1994.
WiFi from 2000 (only 2Mbps then)
I still have a website from about 1998

Ken Macleod (Engines of Light Series) is supposed to have Computer Programming on his CV, but there is a lot of UNIX/Linux & DOS nonsense and computer nonsense generally in those books and an other one of his I borrowed.
 

ralphkern

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Ah this is perhaps where you are losing context of the later published novels but earlier chronological novels. A view point I'm lacking due to having read them in the order they came out.

There is a reason for this discontinuity of technology within the overall revelation space universe. As I recall that should be captured within just The Prefect by the end. If not I promise the stand alone novels he has released, House of Suns and Pushing Ice (especially the latter) are completely self sufficient and great reads. The Revelation Space series tend to be mutually reinforcing and more of a future history type affair.
 

AndrewT

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I've only read Chasm City so far and The Prefect was going to be my next Reynolds. Chasm had lots of new and very advanced ideas that I had never heard of anywhere. Admittedly my sci fi "read" shelf is not that deep, but that was easily the best I've read yet in the genre's recent releases. It was very dark though. Made me want to read Harry Potter or something light next. So I say stick with Prefect and maybe the quality of the writing and story make up for the older techie stuff. But then try Chasm next and see if you agree with me about the quality. Don't want to raise your expectations too much because your tastes and opinion may end up being a lot different than mine.
 

Brian G Turner

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Well, I finished it - some interesting events, but overall I found it a bit lacking in depth.

The Dreyfuss detective element was engaging - but considering that Panoply existed solely to maintain and police democratic privileges (established in chapter 1), none of the characters seemed to have any ideology relating to this, which I found odd. This was especially underlined when Panoply does invoke a democratic vote, only to ignore the result.

There may have been something potentially profound in how Dreyfuss enjoyed the feel of a gun so much that he was prepared to ignore the very principle of democracy that he had dedicated his life to preserving - but I couldn't help but feel that Reynolds simply didn't give much consideration to the necessary socio-political implications of his own world.

Thalia Ng's sub-plot was just daft fantasy. Conveniently, she doesn't check her work - then she spends chapter after chapter being chased by robots, barely added anything to the story.

Convenience continues to run through the plotting - an entity spends decades in a desperate battle to remain alive, only to freely allow itself to be killed, despite having the potential to take over Panoply itself. The leaders of Panoply are completely devoid of ideas or intelligence, in order to make Dreyfuss look clever. And Gaffney - could have been an interesting moral-grey character, but instead just kicks cats - and then, despite being potentially the most dangerous person in Panoply, is given no real security detail. Then the same people who agonised to reach the decision that some must be sacrificed in order to save the Glitterband, suddenly reverse this mindset to protect Aumonier.

It was entertaining in parts, dragged out in others, and there was some nice imagery. But I never got the feeling that Reynolds had really given anything in this story any deep thought. Characters lacked motivation and belief, and the world itself seemed fundamentally anachronistic and lacking in substance.

An interesting read, but after some of the SF novels I've read recently, The Prefect seemed remarkable unambitious by comparison. Perhaps I should have started with something from his Revelation Space series instead?
 
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