Revenger by Alastair Reynolds Review

01/07/2022

Gooood afternoon my luvvers, I am BACK! From holiday, that is. And very briefly, because I'm jetting off again literally tomorrow. I had quite a good time! Family holidays are always a little trying to say the least, but we had some good fun. Did some Go Ape, did some paddleboarding, saw a kingfisher which is pretty dope. I did miss my computer though, and more importantly I missed the little old web community which has become more important to me than I thought. It's good to see some more of my friends getting into this whole thing, and it's nice that I've made some friends here too!

In terms of the site itself, I've had a quick look into RSS feeds today and it turns out the Neocities update page is kind of like an RSS feed anyway, so you guys are going to have to deal with that because I can't be bothered to work out how to make my own. And I've decided I'm going to finally organise my blog page after the end of the year, so that way I can just categorise stuff by year and not worry too much about it.

While I was on holiday, I finished the book Revenger by Alastair Reynolds. It was a really good read! As with all sci fi, it takes a second to get into just because the worldbuilding is extremely in-depth and you kind of need to get settled with that first, but unlike other similarly complex sci fi worlds this one drops you right into the action. In some cases (cough cough Neuromancer cough cough) explaining the worldbuilding and kickstarting the plot at the same time can leave a reader confused and unsatisfied. But I think that Reynolds walks the line perfectly between establishing this universe and setting the story in motion, leaving the reader more with curiosity than confusion.

I think the world itself is extremely unique. Revenger is first and foremost a pirate story, which generally require ships and islands and buried treasure and such. The ships part is easily taken care of in typical sci fi fashion, but Reynolds' angle on the islands and treasure is very unique and absolutely fascinating. The story takes place at some unspecified time in the future, after the solar system has been invaded and occupied 13 times by different alien species. This means that human history is all but eradicated, language is mangled and society is split up across the remnants of slowly dying space stations across the solar system. Nobody even knows where humanity originated, much less how to repair their own technology. This is where the pirates come in. Everyone is in desperate search for old tech to repair their ancient ships and stations, and whole troves of it are hidden in... planetoids? Space stations? Elaborate traps? Known as Baubles. They are only accessible for brief periods of time, and pirates must analyse dodgy historical writings and predictions to work out when the next Bauble will pop, and for how long.

Another unique aspect of the worldbuilding are the Bones. They are implied to be the skulls of a long-dead alien race, riddled with cybernetic enhancements that allow them to communicate telepathically and instantaneously across the void of space. Our main characters are Bone Readers, capable of connecting with these skulls to send messages between ships and gather intelligence for their captains.

There is far more I could talk about with the worldbuilding, but for now I want to move on to the characters. Revenger's cast is actually majority female. This is notable, not only because Reynolds is a man, but also because this is hard sci fi and when was the last time you heard of a majority female cast in a hard sci fi book? And to boot, while women in sci fi are typically paired up with at least one love interest, there is not a single romantic subplot in Revenger. Not one! Because who cares about romance, we are on a pirate spaceship! Finally, someone is talking some sense. Also, every single one of these women is what I would consider a real strong female character. I'm not talking the Tris Divergent strong female character who is literally strong and muscular and not much else, either. I'm talking, these women have motivations and determination and are occasionally somewhat feral because they are Awesome. They are real badass pirates and will not let you forget it! I need more of this in my life, please and thanks.

And you can imagine my excitement when I realised this is a trilogy. I can't wait to get my hands on another! It'll probably be a while though as I have a few more books to get through - currently, Radium Girls by kate Moore which is definitely going to become a Bacteriorage entry when I'm done with it.

Now, I've wittered on for far too long. Time to go cut my nails, pack, shower and prepare for yet more time socialising with family. Yay. Have a good weekend, you guys.

- Blue