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The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds
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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)
Title:The Prefect
Authors:Alastair Reynolds
Info:Gollancz (2007), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 410 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds

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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Prefect
Series: Revelation Space #7
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 516
Format: Digital Edition


Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, an officer in the Panoply, a police force that enforces the few laws of the Glitter Band that orbits the planet Yellowstone.

Things start off with a bang as an Ultra ship uses its engines to wipe out 1 of the 10,000 Habitats. Dreyfus is sent in to investigate by his boss, Jane Aumonier. Jane had a run-in several years ago with an entity named the Clockmaker and has a mechanical tick on neck that places all sorts of restrictions on her or it will kill her.

During Dreyfus's investigation it becomes apparent that the Ultra Captain was framed to cover something else up. While this investigation is going on, Dreyfus's newest underling, Thalia Ng, is sent out on a routine software patch update to 4 of the Habitats. Said patch closes a loophole that allowed those habitats to sway the voting in their habitats, which is strictly against the Law. Thalia installs the code but finds out that it hid some other code that allowed another entity to take over those Habitats.

Thus is revealed the Bad Guy, Aurora Nerval-Lermontov. She is the only surviving member of the 80, an experiment by the Sylveste's to truly digitize humans. She has been hiding and found a ship full of Conjoiners. Said conjoiners could see the future and saw the melding plague, which spells the end of the Glitter Band, and thus Aurora, as she would be destroyed by the melding plague. Aurora wants to prevent this plague but the only way she thinks is viable is to take over and control the entire Glitter Band, no matter how many people she has to kill.

Thalia must survive on the Habitat she is on while the rest of the Panoply tries to deal with Aurora, who has a traitor inside the Panoply. She uses the resources of the 4 Habitats she controls to create drones to spread her control code to other Habitats. Panoply ends up nuking several of them to contain the spread but realize they can't really stop Aurora.

Dreyfus realizes that the first Habitat destroyed by the Ultra ship probably contained the Clockmaker and that Aurora was behind it, as the Clockmaker is the only entity Aurora truly fears. Dreyfus races against the traitor in their midst to find the Clockmaker and release it.

The Clockmaker and Aurora end up inhabiting the entire data band, which slows them down and makes them a non-threat for at least a century or two. The Panoply and the Ultra's get together to clean up the remnants of Aurora's forces and Dreyfus deals with the traitor, regains some memories he never knew he'd even lost and Life Goes On.

My Thoughts:

This was a decent end to my Revelation Space series read. Since I had already read about the melding plague and the glitter band, the situation presented to me wasn't completely outside what I could comprehend.

That being said, this was only a decent end to my Revelation Space series read. I enjoyed what I read but I was neither wowed or impressed nor disgusted.

Dreyfus came across as this careworn, stoic, tired man who could barely function. I didn't enjoy him as a character even while he wasn't boring. No character was boring though. Each and everyone was unique and made the story what it was. I didn't feel like anyone should have been cut out nor did I feel like I wanted “someone else”. But by the end of the book I realized that my time with Reynolds was over.

It feels kind of funny to be giving this 4stars and yet saying it wasn't good enough to keep me reading more Reynolds, but hey, thems the breaks! Reynold's style just never grabbed me like Neal Asher's writing did, so take from that what you may.

Glad I read this compendium of 7 books but I've had enough.

★★★★☆ ( )
1 vote BookstoogeLT | Nov 5, 2019 |
This 2007 police procedural novel by Alastair Reynolds (reissued under the title 'Aurora Rising' in 2018, which I'm afraid to say is something of a spoiler) is set in his 'Revelation Space' universe, but was a stand-alone novel, up to the publication of the sequel, 'Elysium Fire', that same year.

This is wide-screen Baroque science fiction, as Brian Aldiss once said. Although Reynolds' universe sticks fairly closely to the rules of Einsteinian relativity - no faster-than-light drives here - he lets his imagination completely take over when it comes to the details of the universe. The result is pure 'Doc' Smith stuff, but well-written and with quite well-drawn characters.

Tom Dreyfuss, the 'Prefect' of the title, is a sort of policeman in the space surrounding a settled planet, Yellowstone, orbiting Epsilon Eridani. The space around Yellowstone has become the location of ten thousand artificial habitats, known as the Glitter Band (because when viewed from afar, they make a band that's all glittery. Well, it probably seemed like a reasonable joke when he first thought up the series). Dreyfuss investigates the destruction of one particular habitat in what at first looks like a trade negotiation gone very sour; but events keep ramping up, old events and cold cases keep popping up out of the woodwork to slot into place in the story, and before long we are in a crisis of rampaging robots, underhand traitors and scheming villains. The atmosphere is distinctly post-human, with people's cybernetic enhancements playing a part in the whole.

As I said, this novel is a stand-alone (although a sequel was probably always a possibility as one of the villains... well, figure it out yourselves). It will help if you've read some of the other novels, but only for background. Expository lumps are slipped into the mixture fairly painlessly.

I was a little taken aback to find myself identifying with some of the ancillary characters; Dreyfuss and his fellow Prefects are a little Central Casting (despite one of them being a genetically-enhanced hyperpig) but nonetheless reasonably well filled out. Even disposable walk-ons, such as witnesses, are quite well drawn. In this, Reynolds far outdoes 'Doc' Smith in the quality of his writing. The style is otherwise fairly straightforward but gives a good sense of what was unfolding in the author's own imagination.

The ending seems a little rushed; in particular, one faction of post-humans, the Ultras, who had initially been blamed for the first crime and then exonerated, are called upon to render assistance during the crisis, which they do (in a rather effective scene) towards the end of the book; yet after bringing them back into the plot, Reynolds then does nothing with them, which struck me as a bit of a let-down. But otherwise, the action stuff is all there, with exotic weaponry and plenty of whizzing to and fro in cool spaceships; and just when you think things are about to head for some sort of resolution - even if that resolution is some way off, we get the sense that it's just a matter of working out the details - the action gets turned up another notch.

Anyone who says "They don't write them like they used to" needs to read this. ( )
2 vote RobertDay | Nov 4, 2019 |
Reynolds has become one of my favorite authors since a few friends introduced me to to him. This book is like the others I've read in that it's full of characters that are never wholly good or wholly bad, there's plenty of drama, the separation of various levels of tech exist in his universe to tell the story at any level, and the level of detail is perfect ... enough to imagine the world, but not so much as to be exhausting or to make the pace of the book slow.

This is a standalone book set in the Revelation Space universe and can definitely be read that way. It's a good introduction or a good addition to a known universe. There were a few things that I could criticize about when and how some of the plot points were introduced, but all in all, this was simply a well executed story. ( )
  Mactastik | Sep 4, 2019 |
This is an excellent, page turning murder mystery set in outer space, and I say that as someone who rarely reads mysteries and space operas. Urban fantasy is more my speed and space things--space ships, space suits, air locks, etc.--make me claustrophobic, and I did sort of feel it during the read, but the mystery was too good to put down.

There's a small quibble about the ending, which I think needs an epilogue, but since there's a sequel, it's not that big a deal. Well... it's not a big deal now that there's a sequel, but it would've been a big deal if I'd read it before the sequel came out.

More on this later once I return to civilization.

A big thanks to Carol and Milda for reading this with me. (Sorry I sped through it). ( )
  1stavenue | May 5, 2019 |
“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. ( )
1 vote antao | Apr 26, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (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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Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, a policeman of sorts. His force is Panoply, and his beat is the multifaceted utopian society of the Glitter Band. Panoply's task - to safeguard the Glitter Band and ensure its democratic apparatus runs flawlessly.
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