Elysium Fire is a smoldering tale of murderers, secret cultists, tampered memories, and unthinkable power, of bottomless corruption and overpowering idealism from the king of modern space opera.
Ten thousand city-state habitats orbit the planet Yellowstone, forming a near-perfect democratic human paradise.
But even utopia needs a police force. For the citizens of the Glitter Band that organization is Panoply, and the prefects are its operatives.
Prefect Tom Dreyfus has a new emergency on his hands. Across the habitats and their hundred million citizens, people are dying suddenly and randomly, victims of a bizarre and unprecedented malfunction of their neural implants. And these "melters" leave no clues behind as to the cause of their deaths. . .
As panic rises in the populace, a charismatic figure is sowing insurrection, convincing a small but growing number of habitats to break away from the Glitter Band and form their own independent colonies.
Reynolds has been building his Revelation Space universe for decades in a series of stories and novels; this one is a direct sequel to 2007's The Prefect, reprinted in 2017 as Aurora Rising, and it's even fresher and smarter than its predecessors. Chasm City's 10,000 habitats have existed in relative harmony for years, but an accelerating series of brain-frying deaths cast doubt on the ability of Panoply, the city's law enforcement agency, to keep citizens safe. Panoply prefect Tom Dreyfus; his prot g , Thalia Ng; and a sardonic hyperpig, Sparver Bancal, attempt to stop the murders while shutting down a rabble-rousing provocateur. This novel's ideas are mind-stretching, including a limbo where copies of the dead can be kept and interrogated, and a chillingly mischievous AI that tempts and mocks Dreyfus. Familiarity with the earlier novel might help readers sort out the multiple plot threads. The big concepts and complex story effectively pull readers into intriguing speculation about human identity and potential.
Brilliant space opera. Great characters, plot, writing. One of the best I have read.