Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Prefect - Alastair Reynolds

Detective, spies and AI.

Alastair Reynolds has done it again, delivering another good book. Over 20 novels and stories of his I have read, and still averaging over 4. Very impressive.

The Glitter Band is a system of ten thousand floating habitats, all independent, but all tied into a common voting mechanism for government administration by an organisation that is called the Panoply. Think Judge Dredd, without the guns and you will have some idea.

At the beginning of the novel, the voting software for this organisation needs upgrading to remove a security hole. Around the same time one of the habitats is blasted by the drive of an Ultra spaceship.

Panoply field prefect Tom Dreyfus smells a big rat, and with his team, sets out to investigate.

Although this is a standalone novel, elements do tie in in small ways to the Sylveste epic, in a way that will be pleasing to longtime readers.

No space opera this one, but the baroque and slightly creepy atmosphere and characters of his other Revelation Space novels is well to the fore. If you like those, not much doubt you will like this story, too.

It gets quite a bit more complicated after the early setup, with political divisions, plots, and counterplots emerging, as Dreyfus unravels the mess, finding out some truths about himself in the process, as well as who he is working for.

4 out of 5

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