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    Review of REDEMPTION ARK by Alastair Reynolds

    Ace Books, May 2004

    Review by Jennifer Vilches

    The Cojoiners and Demarchists are slugging their way to the conclusion of a long war when the Cojoiners learn of a threat to all humanity. Machines called the Inhibitors are approaching from the dark reaches of space, intent on wiping out space-faring life. The Cojoiners make plans to protect themselves by launching a mission to retrieve a long-lost cache of hellish weapons. But one of their military experts, Clavain, believes that all of humanity deserves to know about the threat. Clavain launches his own operation to retrieve the weapons and is soon in a desperate race against his former allies.

    But it's not going to be a simple race - the weapons are being held in the Delta Pavonis system by the damaged ship Nostalgia for Infinity. The dread machines are already there and are in the process of taking apart the entire system. The much-reduced crew of the ship is working on a plan to evacuate the planet before the Inhibitors can complete their work, a plan that includes their own use of the powerful weapons.

    Although it's not immediately obvious, Redemption Ark is a sequel to Reynolds's first novel, Revelation Space. A dark space opera with a grand scale and realistic science, the book has an interesting film-noir feel. None of the characters are entirely sympathetic and this future is definitely not a shiny feel-good place. However, it is full of fascinating technology and interesting people. The characterization is fairly good - definitely more than one-dimensional, although sometimes the motivations seem a little off.

    Redemption Ark suffers a bit from middle-book malady. While it's action packed and chock full of challenging concepts, the ending is disappointing - it feels rushed, nothing is really resolved, and you're stuck waiting for the next book. There are also several points where the book builds up to what should be frenzied action sequences and then instead of the actual action, you get a passive recap that throws a wrench into the pacing. However, I do like the universe that Reynolds has created and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 7/20/04

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