Aurora Rising by Alastair Reynolds

a review by Ant, in the genre(s) Science Fiction, Detective Science Fiction . Book published by Gollancz in November 2017

Aurora Rising is a stand-alone novel written within the authors Revelation Space universe, set before other novels and before the cataclysmic event of the Melding Plague.

It's worth noting that Aurora Rising was published in 2007 as The Prefect. Reynolds fan's who are looking for a new book will need to wait for the sequel, Elysium Fire which is out in a few days. Aurora Rising was nominated for the Locus Award and BSFA for Best Novel back in 2007. In my opinion only loosing out due to the fierce level of competition that year - with Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union and Ken MacLeod’s The Night Sessions winning those awards respectively.

The Prefect Tom Dreyfus is a member of the Panoply, overseers of a 25th century utopian society who populate the Glitter Band. The Glitter Band are a swarm of orbital habitats that surround the planet Yellowstone, each habitat developing it's own culture and internal rules. The 100 million inhabitants of the Glitter Band represent the pinnacle of human achievement. A working, balanced egalitarian society with a system-wide voting system that decides local and society-wide policy.

This system is achieved by a vast computer network that runs throughout the Glitter Band and planet Yellowstone, smoothly linking everyone through neural implants and offering an advanced form of Augmented / Virtual Reality. It's a future where biological and neurological augmentation and alteration are commonplace.

The Panoply ensure the voting proccesses are fair while also protecting the Band and it's inhabitants, with the power to remove habitats from the network should they need to. An automotous police force of sorts, the Panoply are considered a neccesary encumberance by many of the populous.

Dreyfus and his assistant Thalia Ng are sent to investigate the habitat of house Perigal, suspected of polling violations. Shortly afterwards the habitat Ruskin-Sartorious is destroyed with over a 1000 lives lost. These two incidents form the main two threads of the same story - with an upgrade to habitats polling software needed along with an investigation into the destruction of Ruskin-Sartorious.

Aurora Rising has the style of a hardboiled noir but with the pace of a thriller and the backdrop and scope of a space opera.

It's a breath-taking combination and really shows off the authors talent as a writer. It's compelling, with all the twists and turns you would expect from a complex investigative mystery, set against Reynolds rich Revelation Space universe.

The author manages to expand on his ideas of a far-future human society while also introducing some intriguing characters, we do of course have the capable Tom Dreyfus but equally enteraining are rookie cop Thalia Ng and "hyper pig" Sparver. The ending, when arrives, wraps everything up neatly, even if we do get the usual murder mystery style of someone explaining to everyone else what really happened.

Aurora Rising is almost flawlessly executed. It's creative and complex fiction, updating some classic science fiction themes. Working perfectly as a stand-alone story or for Reynolds regulars, Aurora Rising is simply exceptional.

Written on Monday 22nd January 2018 by .

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Aurora Rising, a novel by Alastair Reynolds

Book Details

  • Aurora Rising
  • Publisher: Gollancz
  • ISBN: 978-1473223363
  • Published:
  • Pages: 528
  • Format reviewed: Paperback
  • Review date: January, 2018
  • Language: English
  • Age Range: