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Prefect, The (Gollancz S.F. S.) by Alastair…

Prefect, The (Gollancz S.F. S.) (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Alastair Reynolds

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1,351308,443 (3.99)78
Title:Prefect, The (Gollancz S.F. S.)
Authors:Alastair Reynolds
Info:Gollancz (2007), Edition: Export e., Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds (2007)


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English (29)  Italian (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
“A starship built around a single massive engine designed to suck in interstellar hydrogen and use it for reaction mass. Because it didn’t have to carry its own fuel around, it could go almost as fast as it liked, right up to the edge of light-speed.”

In “The Prefect” by Alastair Reynolds

So you're happy about a 900-year old alien driving a ship that looks like a police box that can travel through time and is larger on the inside than on the outside towing an entire planet across the universe, but some people are annoyed because it didn't shake enough? Seriously, I can never understand why SF readers get so picky over the stuff they are prepared to suspend their disbelief over. Either you're going to reject the whole damn thing, or you should accept it all, I say. Having said that, while accepting the initial fantastic premises of this book, I'm happy for it to bend basic physics, but not to slit its throat and urinate on the corpse. To take the earth-towing scene again; where's the sense of threat to humanity if, in the end, it can survive cataclysmic events like being pulled across the universe, with only basic refurbishing needed? The basic rule of thumb about suspension of disbelief applies to all fiction, not just SF: anything is acceptable as a premise, but once the premise is in place, you have to follow through as realistically as possible. In other words, you start with a “What If”..., and the “What If” can be completely insane - e.g. What If the CIA invented a non-existent agent to distract the KGB, and then the KGB mistook a real person for that agent. But once you established the crazy “What If”, you can't just add other bits of craziness to get your hero out of tricky situations. Though this is madness, yet there is method in it, and Reynolds is the absolute master of the form. What else? Ah yes. It’s oversaturated with all kind of fancy stuff. ( )
  antao | Apr 26, 2018 |
I loved this book. Great characters, great science fiction, and ultimately a murder mystery. There was one plot point with Battlestar Galactica security that annoyed me but not enough to ruin the story. You do not need to read any other books in the series to read this book. It stands alone. ( )
  CSDaley | Mar 28, 2018 |
Set in the time of The Glitter Band, but we all know what is looming... This book is a nice introduction to new characters & habitats in the Revelation Space universe, and hauntingly, one or two older characters too.
Plenty of multi-layered action, plots and imagery (the weevils strewing into space) and the main characters not too rigidly perfect to be believable ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
Another good tale from Reynolds. I'm pretty biased when it comes to his stuff, but I will note that this was the first story where I felt his dialogue was set a little to closely to contemporary time. Language evolves rather quickly. So when one is writing a tale that happens over centuries it's a little hard to swallow language that's exactly the same as we use today. The were cliched phrases and a few bad words that seemed jarring when they came along in the text. Still, nothing to make me dislike the book. Keep em coming. ( )
  RalphLagana | Jan 23, 2016 |
Alastair Reynolds is an author I keep coming back to like a regular customer, for the simple reason that he is among the top three best sci-fi authors working today (I have no idea who the other two are, I just estimate that if I were to do a top three ranking he would be in it).

The Prefect is set earlier in the Revelation Space timeline. This is not going to mean very much to anyone who has never read anything from Reynold’s epic Revelation Space series. That said this is a standalone book in the sense that the story is complete in itself, not part of an ongoing narrative from other books. However, to get the most out of it I would recommend that you at least read the original [b:Revelation Space|89187|Revelation Space (Revelation Space, #1)|Alastair Reynolds|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405532042s/89187.jpg|219037] novel first to familiarize yourself with the setting. The Prefect starts off as a kind of murder mystery where the protagonist Prefect Tom Dreyfus is investigating the mass murder of the occupants of a space habitat. A Prefect is a policeman of sorts, part of a security task force that specialize in protecting the voting system of The Glitter Band (a group of 10,000 habitats). As the story unfolds it transpire that the murder is merely the beginning of a hostile takeover bid of The Glitter Band by an AI entity.

The worst thing about summarizing a Revelation Space book is that many concepts need to be explained to make any sense to the casual reader, a chore for the reviewer and the reader. It is probably more useful and practical to highlight the novel’s qualities in general terms. The Prefect then is a fast paced story of a race against time to save a huge group of space habitats from being taken over and the citizenry from being wiped out. It is an action packed but fairly complex space opera, fans of weird future tech will have a field day with things like semi-sentient whips, decapitation surgery, irremovable insect-like devices attached to people, robot weevils etc.

There are alien races in the Revelation Space universe but they are only mentioned in passing in this book. The variety of posthumans and AIs are weird enough. The characters are a little flat and generic by Reynolds’ standard, probably due to more emphasis being placed on the plot. There is an interesting exploration of the theme of what constitute a human being. Is an activated backup human consciousness a human being with rights and a soul? Or is it just software? The cases for and against are quite well presented and Reynolds leave it for you to decide.

Reynolds does not pretend to be a literary writer but I always like his clean prose style and believable dialogue. In his other books he sometimes wanders into more lyrical prose style territory but I did not notice any such passages in this book. He did however include an excellent explanation of a “ramscoop”, a sci-fi conceit I never fully understood so I would like to quote it here:

“A starship built around a single massive engine designed to suck in interstellar hydrogen and use it for reaction mass. Because it didn’t have to carry its own fuel around, it could go almost as fast as it liked, right up to the edge of light-speed.”

Generally Reynolds explains the science behind his sci-fi more successfully than most sci-fi authors. Always an advantage with this kind of hard(ish) sci-fi.

The Prefect then is another excellent piece of sci-fi from Alastair Reynolds who has yet to let me down. If space opera and sci-fi tech is your thing then this book can be highly recommended with the caveat that you have at least read [b:Revelation Space|89187|Revelation Space (Revelation Space, #1)|Alastair Reynolds|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405532042s/89187.jpg|219037] first. For a completely standalone Reynolds book not connected to any other books, the awe-inspiring [b:House of Suns|1126719|House of Suns|Alastair Reynolds|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328058140s/1126719.jpg|2020929] is the best option and remains my favourite work of his.

(4.5 stars) ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Tom Dreyfus is the Prefect of the title, an agent of Panoply, the police force of the Glitter Band, an agglomeration of diverse habitats orbiting the planet Yellowstone, a satellite of the sun Epsilon Eridani, the environment where the bulk of humanity now lives. Another detective novel, then, but with Space Operatic aspects.

The setting is a return to the universe of Reynolds’s previous Revelation Space novels but in this one the action takes place solely within the Glitter Band; apparently an ultra-democratic polity where votes on anything and everything take place all the time – including on whether Panoply may deploy weapons.

Someone has used a spaceship drive to destroy the Ruskin-Sartorious habitat thereby killing hundreds of people. The obvious culprit is punished but Dreyfus’s investigations lead him to believe this is merely cover for a much wider conspiracy. One of his assistants, Thalia Ng, is sent to begin software upgrades to the voting protocols on four habitats but when the last one is completed the constant contact (known as abstraction) the voters have with the centre is broken. A takeover of all four habitats ensues. The rest of the book is concerned with the efforts of Panoply to counter this insurgency and to prevent its spread to the whole Glitter Band. On the way this leads to the unmasking of two mysterious figures from the past, Aurora and the Clockmaker. The latter has put Panoply’s chief into mortal danger.

Once the set-up is over with and the plot gets into gear, the narrative flows nicely. There are plenty of twists and turns, with shifts in the balance of power, plus wheels within wheels, inside Panoply. Dreyfus is your standard good cop but is convincing as such, as is Thalia Ng. Some of their antagonists are a little less convincing, however.

A possible spoiler follows.

The main problem with the book is that the story merely stops. After those 502 (small font sized) pages the final conflict which the narrative sets up remains unresolved. Perhaps the book was too long already. Or is Reynolds going to give us a sequel? Whatever, while enjoying the ride, I was left somewhat unsatisfied.

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alastair Reynoldsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my mum and dad,
for forty years of love and encouragement.
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Thalia Ng felt her weight increasing as the elevator sped down the spoke from the habitat’s docking hub.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575082186, Paperback)

Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, a policeman of sorts, and one of the best. His force is Panoply, and his beat is the multi-faceted utopian society of the Glitter Band, that vast swirl of space habitats orbiting the planet Yellowstone. These days, his job is his life. A murderous attack against a Glitter Band habitat is nasty, but it looks to be an open-and-shut case - until Dreyfus starts looking under some stones that some very powerful people would really rather stayed unturned. What he uncovers is far more serious than mere gruesome murder: a covert takeover bid by a shadowy figure, Aurora (who may once have been human but certainly isn't now), who believes the people of the Glitter Band should no longer be in charge of their own destiny. Dreyfus discovers that to save something precious, you may have to destroy part of it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:21 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, a law enforcement officer with the Panoply. His beat is the multi-faceted utopian society of the Glitter Band. His current case: investigating a murderous attack against one of the habitats that leaves nine hundred people dead, a crime that appalls even a hardened cop like Dreyfus. But then his investigation uncovers something even more potentially dangerous--a covert plot by an enigmatic entity seeking nothing less than total control of the Glitter Band.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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