This is Reynolds’ third novel, and is a sequel to Revelation Space. There are also some links to Chasm City – while it’s never explicitly stated, a character known as “H” seems to be none other than Tanner Mirabel from the earlier book.
In this book, more background to the story is revealed. We get to learn a lot more about some of the factions humanity has split into – more about the Conjoiners in particular. The Conjoiners are a group who, with the aid of brain implants are able to share each other’s thoughts.
Thanks to an experimental system called Exordium, the Conjoiners are receiving messages from the future, warning them of the danger that humanity is in. A century before the action of this book, they stopped manufacturing their starship engines because they were drawing the attention of terrible destructive entities that they have come to know as the Wolves. It becomes clear that the Wolves are the same as the Inhibitors – the intelligent machines that have been wiping out starfaring civilisations for millions of years, and which were alerted by the actions of Dan Sylveste in Revelation Space.
As is generally the case with Reynolds’ books, there are several threads which eventually come together. On Resurgam, Ana Khouri is working undercover in the government and keeping in contact with Ilia Volyova, who is the official hate figure of the local regime. Volyova was in effective command of the lighthugger Nostalgia for Infinity, whose arrival at Resurgam in Revelation Space led to Sylveste alerting the Inhibitors. And now the Inhibitors have arrived, and it is clear that they are aiming to destroy all life on Resurgam. Khouri and Volyova devise a plan to evacuate the colony on their ship.
Decades earlier, the Conjoiners decide that something has to be done about the Inhibitor menace. A secret inner faction has built a fleet of ships, intending to flee to a distant part of the galaxy. Nevil Clavain, who originally defected to the Conjoiners four centuries earlier learns of the plan, and defects again. He heads to Chasm City, and then on to Resurgam. Both Clavain and the Conjoiners chasing him are after the same thing – the centuries old “Hell Class” weapons that are on board the Nostalgia for Infinity – stolen centuries earlier by the lighthugger’s crew, and originally made using information from the future.
Clavain and his crew arrive at Resurgam while the evacuation is in progress. And then things get really interesting.
Yes, it’s another long, detailed, complicated and above all fun novel from Alastair Reynolds.
Once I’ve read the rest of the books (reviews soon), I’ll be going through my back issues of Interzone to re-read some of the man’s short stories.