In the second book of The Inhibitor Trilogy, Alastair Reynolds pushes the boundaries of science fiction and "confirms his place among the leaders of the hard-science space-opera renaissance" (Publishers Weekly).
Late in the twenty-sixth century, the human race has advanced enough to accidentally trigger the Inhibitors -- alien killing machines designed to detect intelligent life and destroy it. The only hope for humanity lies in the recovery of a secret cache of doomsday weapons -- and a renegade named Clavain who is determined to find them. But other factions want the weapons for their own purposes -- and the weapons themselves have another agenda altogether . . .
With this complex, thoughtful sequel to his highly praised Revelation Space (2001), British author Reynolds confirms his place among the leaders of the hard-science space-opera renaissance. Spreading from star to star, humanity has split into different, competing factions. Late in the 26th century, the group-mind Conjoiners are defeating their main rivals, the Demarchists. Unfortunately, the Conjoiners' space exploration has attracted the notice of an ancient swarm of machines that calls itself the Inhibitors and that exists to destroy all biological intelligence. The Conjoiners don't believe they can fight this new foe, so they intend to run away and let the Inhibitors wipe out the other human tribes. One Conjoiner warrior, the centuries-old Clavain, rebels against this heartless tactic, but he must negotiate with a fragmented, distrustful mob of possible allies while pursued by his former cohorts. The novel forces readers to process an outrageous amount of information but that's only fair, since the characters are challenged to do the same. As they extend themselves outward, they also have a chance to gain more understanding of themselves as human beings and more ability to interact meaningfully. It's rare to find a writer with sufficient nerve and stamina to write novels that are big enough to justify using words like "revelation" and "redemption." Reynolds pulls it off.