Alastair Preston Reynolds (born 1966) is a British science fiction author. He specialises in dark hard science fiction and space opera. He spent his early years in Cornwall, moved back to Wales before going to Newcastle, where he read physics and astronomy. Afterwards, he earned a PhD from St Andrews, Scotland. In 1991, he moved to Noordwijk in the Netherlands where he met his wife Josette (who is from France). There, he worked for the European Space Research and Technology Centre, part of the European Space Agency, until 2004 when he left to pursue writing full time. He returned to Wales in 2008 and lives near Cardiff.
Reynolds wrote his first four published science fiction short stories while still a graduate student, in 1989-1991; they appeared in 1990-1992, his first sale being to Interzone. In 1991 Reynolds graduated and moved from Scotland to the Netherlands to work at ESA. He then started spending much of his writing time on a first novel, which eventually turned into Revelation Space, while the few short stories he submitted from 1991-1995 were rejected. This ended in 1995 when his story "Byrd Land Six" was published, which he says marked the beginning of a more serious phase of writing. As of 2011 he has published over forty shorter works and nine novels. His works are hard science fiction veiled behind space opera and noir toned stories, and reflect his professional expertise with physics and astronomy, included by extrapolating future technologies in terms that are consistent, for the most part, with current science. Reynolds has said he prefers to keep the science in his books to what he personally believes will be possible, and he does not believe faster-than-light travel will ever be possible, but that he adopts science he believes will be impossible when it is necessary for the story. Most of Reynolds’s novels contain multiple storylines that originally appear to be completely unrelated, but merge later in the story.
Five of his novels and several of his short stories take place within one consistent future universe, usually now called the Revelation Space universe after the first novel published in it, although it was originally developed in short stories for several years before the first novel. Although most characters appear in more than one novel, the works set within this future timeline rarely have the same protagonists twice. Often the protagonists from one work belong to a group that is regarded with suspicion or enmity by the protagonists of another work. While a great deal of science fiction reflects either very optimistic or dystopian visions of the human future, Reynolds’s future worlds are notable in that human societies have not departed to either positive or negative extremes, but instead are similar to those of today in terms of moral ambiguity and a mixture of cruelty and decency, corruption and opportunity, despite their technology being dramatically advanced.
The Revelation Space series includes five novels, two novellas, and eight short stories set over a span of several centuries, spanning approximately 2200 to 40 000, although the novels are all set in a 300 year period spanning from 2427 to 2727. In this universe, extraterrestrial sentience exists but is elusive, and interstellar travel is primarily undertaken by a class of vessel called a lighthugger which only approaches the speed of light (faster than light travel is possible, but it is so dangerous that no race uses it). Fermi’s paradox is explained as resulting from the activities of an inorganic alien race referred to by its victims as the Inhibitors, which exterminates sentient races if they proceed above a certain level of technology. The trilogy consisting of Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap (the Inhibitor trilogy) deal with humanity coming to the attention of the inhibitors and the resultant war between them.
Revelation Space series
Alastair Reynolds – Revelation Space (read by John Lee)
Alastair Reynolds – Chasm City (read by John Lee)
Alastair Reynolds – Redemption Ark (read by John Lee)
Alastair Reynolds – Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days (read by John Lee)
Alastair Reynolds – Absolution Gap (read by John Lee)
Alastair Reynolds – The Prefect (read by John Lee)
Alastair Reynolds – Galactic North (read by John Lee)
Poseidon’s Children series
Alastair Reynolds – Blue Remembered Earth (read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith)
Alastair Reynolds – On The Steel Breeze (read by Adjoa Andoh)
Alastair Reynolds – Poseidon’s Wake (read by Adjoa Andoh)
Alastair Reynolds – Revenger (read by Clare Corbett)
Alastair Reynolds – Elysium Fire (read by John Lee)
Alastair Reynolds – Slow Bullets (read by Susan Duerden)
Alastair Reynolds – Troika (read by Wayne June)
Alastair Reynolds – Century Rain (read by Jon Cartwright)
Alastair Reynolds – Pushing Ice (read by John Lee)
Alastair Reynolds – House Of Suns (read by John Lee)
Alastair Reynolds – Terminal World (read by John Lee)
Alastair Reynolds – Thousandth Night (read by Sam A. Mowry)
Alastair Reynolds – Short Stories (read by Various)
Revelation Space series
Poseidon's Children series