Friday, January 11, 2008

Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds

This is the third book in the ‘Inhibitors Trilogy’. That’s not what it’s called, but that’s how I think of it. Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap. They all form a series. While I get the impression that there have been other books by Reynolds in this setting and with these characters (well, some of them) I didn’t feel I was missing essential information.

Three stories thread throughout this book. I didn’t really see the connection between them, until I remembered to look at the date at the top of each chapter heading. That helps.

Humanity are fleeing the Inhibitors, those who know about them. Mostly they appear as rumour, ship to ship warnings of regions it is no longer safe for traders to enter. On another remote planet huge mobile cathedrals circle the moon of a gas giant. This gas giant is different. From time to time it vanishes, just for the blink of an eye. The reasons behind the vanishings are of no concern to the churches, as long as pilgrims continue to come. With the slow march of the Inhibitors many more pilgrims are flocking to the planet.

The three threads only merge in the latter half of the book, and here the action picks up considerably, with in-ship combat a particular highlight. Little tip; don’t invade sentient vessels and then start shooting the hull. They get tetchy. Hey, that might be handy advice one day.

I found the ending a little disappointing. Kind of like the ending to The Naked God, if you’ve read that. If you haven’t what I mean is the ending is very abrupt, invites a bit of a Deus Ex Machina, and leaves you thinking “yes, well?”

Of course if you’re two books into a three book series you’re not going to stop, and the book is good and everything. It just… well, you know.

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