Alastair Reynolds

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Alastair Reynolds
Reynolds at Eastercon in 2010
Reynolds at Eastercon in 2010
Born (1966-03-13) 13 March 1966 (age 52)
Barry, Wales,
United Kingdom[1]
former research astronomer with the European Space Agency
GenreScience fiction

Alastair Preston Reynolds (born 13 March 1966) is a British science fiction author. He specialises in hard science fiction and space opera. He spent his early years in Cornwall, moved back to Wales before going to Newcastle University, where he read physics and astronomy. Afterwards, he earned a PhD from the University of St Andrews. 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.[1] 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.[1] 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.[2] 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 CE 2200 to 40 000, although the novels are all set in a 300-year period spanning from CE 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)[1] deal with humanity coming to the attention of the Inhibitors and the resultant war between them.

Century Rain takes place in a future universe independent of the Revelation Space universe and has different rules, such as faster-than-light travel being possible through a system of portals similar to wormholes. Century Rain also departs substantially from Reynolds's previous works, both in having a protagonist who is much closer to the perspective of our real world (in fact he is from a version of our past), serving as a proxy for the reader in confronting the unfamiliarity of the advanced science fiction aspects and in having a much more linear storytelling process. Reynolds's previous protagonists started out fully absorbed in the exoticisms of the future setting and his previous Revelation Space works have several interlinked story threads, not necessarily contemporaneous. According to Alastair himself, no sequel will ever be made on Century Rain.[3]

Pushing Ice is also a standalone story, with characters from much less distant in the future than in any of his other novels, set into a framework storyline that extends much further into the future of humanity than any of his previous novels. It contains an alternative interpretation of the Fermi paradox: intelligent sentient life in this universe is extremely scarce.

The Prefect marked a return to the Revelation Space universe. Like Chasm City, it is a stand-alone novel within the Revelation Space universe. It is set prior to any of the other Revelation Space novels, though still 200 years after the original human settlement of the Epsilon Eridani system. It was published in the United Kingdom on 2 April 2007.

House of Suns is a standalone novel set in the same universe as his novella "Thousandth Night" from the One Million A.D. anthology. It was released in the UK on 17 April 2008 and in the US on 2 June 2009. Reynolds described it as "Six million years in the future, starfaring clones, tensions between human and robot metacivilisations, King Crimson jokes."[3]

Terminal World, published in March 2010 was described by Reynolds as "a kind of steampunk-tinged planetary romance, set in the distant future". As with Century Rain, Reynolds has said that he does not plan any further work in the universe of Terminal World.[3]

In June 2009 Reynolds signed a new deal, worth £1 million, with his British publishers for ten books to be published over the next ten years.[4]

Between 2012 and 2015 Reynolds released three novels set in a new universe called Poseidon's Children: Blue Remembered Earth (2012), On the Steel Breeze (2014), and Poseidon's Wake (2015).[5][6] The novels comprise a hard science fiction trilogy dealing with the expansion of the human species into the solar system and beyond, and the emergence of Africa as a spacefaring, technological super-state.

His Doctor Who novel Harvest of Time was published in June 2013.[6]

In early 2018 Reynolds published a sequel to The Prefect titled Elysium Fire, marking the first novel length return to the Revelation Space universe since 2007[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Reynolds's fiction has received three awards and several other nominations. His second novel Chasm City won the 2001 British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel.[8] His short story "Weather" won the Japanese National Science Fiction Convention's Seiun Award for Best Translated Short Fiction.[9] His novels Absolution Gap and The Prefect have also been nominated for previous BSFA awards.[10][11] Reynolds has been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award three times, for his novels Revelation Space,[12] Pushing Ice[13] and House of Suns.[14] In 2010, he won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for his short story "The Fixation".[15] His novella Troika made the shortlist[16] for the 2011 Hugo Awards.[17][18] His Novel Revenger received the 2017 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book.[19] 



Revelation Space[edit]

  1. Revelation Space. London: Gollancz. 2000.
  2. Chasm City. London: Gollancz, 2001. ISBN 0-575-06877-9
  3. Redemption Ark. London: Gollancz, 2002. ISBN 0-575-06879-5
  4. Absolution Gap. London: Gollancz, 2003. ISBN 0-575-07434-5

The Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies[edit]

  1. Aurora Rising (Previously "The Prefect"[20]). London: Gollancz, 2007, ISBN 0-575-07716-6
  2. Elysium Fire. London: Gollancz, 2018, ISBN 0-575-09058-8

Poseidon's Children[edit]

  1. Blue Remembered Earth, London: Gollancz, 2012, ISBN 0-575-08827-3
  2. On the Steel Breeze, London: Gollancz, 2013, ISBN 0-575-09045-6 [21][22]
  3. Poseidon's Wake, London: Gollancz, 2015, ISBN 978-0-575-09049-1 [23]

Doctor Who (Third Doctor)[edit]


  1. Revenger. London: Gollancz, 2016, ISBN 978-057-509053-8
  2. Shadow Captain. London: Gollancz, 2019, ISBN 978-057-509063-7




Short fiction[edit]

  • "The Big Hello" – Originally published in German translation in a convention program.
  • "The Manastodon Broadcasts" – Originally published in Aberrant Dreams I: The Awakening (December 2008), Joe Dickerson, Ernest G. Saylor and Lonny Harper, eds.
  • "Scales" – Originally published in The Guardian (2009); and posted free online at Lightspeed Magazine.[27]
  • "Lune and the Red Empress" with Liz Williams, originally published in the 2010 Eastercon souvenir booklet.
  • "At Budokan" – Originally published in Shine (March 2010), Jetse de Vries, ed.
  • "Sleepover" – Originally published in The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF (May 2010), Mike Ashley, eds.
  • "Ascension Day" – Originally published in Voices from the Past, reprinted in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection (2012, ISBN 978-1-250-00354-6), Gardner Dozois, ed.
  • "The Old Man and the Martian Sea" – Originally published in Life on Mars (April 2011), Jonathan Strahan, ed.
  • "For the Ages" – Originally published in Solaris Rising: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction (November 2011), Ian Whates, ed.
  • "The Water Thief" – Originally published in Arc 1.1 / The Future Aways Wins (February 2012), Sumit Paul-Choudhury, Simon Ings, eds.
  • "Trauma Pod" – Originally published in Armored (April 2012), John Joseph Adams, ed.
  • "Vainglory" – Originally published in Edge of Infinity (December 2012), Jonathan Strahan, ed.
  • "A Map of Mercury" – Originally published in The Lowest Heaven (June 2013)[28]
  • "The Lobby" - Originally published in Memoryville Blues (Postscripts #30/31), Peter Crowther & Nick Gevers, ed.
  • "In Babelsberg" - Originally published in Reach for Infinity (May 2014), Jonathan Strahan, ed.[29]
  • "Wrecking Party" - Originally published in Dead Man's Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West (May 2014), John Joseph Adams, ed.
  • "The Last Log of the Lachrimosa" - Originally published in Subterranean Online (July 2014) (a Revelation Space story).[30]
  • "Sad Kapteyn" - Originally published online by the School of Physics and Astronomy, Queen Mary University of London[31]
  • "A Murmuration" - Originally published in Interzone (Mar-Apr 2015.)
  • "Open and Shut" - Published online by Gollancz (January 2018) (a Revelation Space story).[32]

Essays, reporting and other contributions[edit]

  • Reynolds, Alastair (2015). "Gerry Anderson saw the future". Book Club. SciFiNow. 104: 96–97.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Strahan, Jonathan, ed. (2010), Godlike Machines, Garden City, New York: Science Fiction Book Club, p. 1, ISBN 978-1-61664-759-9
  2. ^ Science fiction 'thrives in hi-tech world' BBC News Monday, 30 April 2007
  3. ^ a b c, as retrieved in January 2012.
  4. ^ The Guardian, 22/06/09
  5. ^ Blog posting from Reynolds personal website Teahouse on the Tracks
  6. ^ a b Reynolds, Alastair. "Novels". Archived from the original on 7 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Past BSFA awards Archived 30 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: 2008 Seiun Awards". Archived from the original on 26 May 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  10. ^ "Bibliography: Absolution Gap". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Bibliography: The Prefect". 25 June 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  12. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: 2001 Arthur C. Clarke Award". Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  13. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: 2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award". 25 April 2006. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  14. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: 2009 Arthur C. Clarke Award". 29 April 2009. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Bibliography: The Fixation". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Renovation - Hugo Awards". Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  17. ^ "Bibliography: Troika". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  18. ^ Locus, 2011 Hugo and Campbell Awards Winners (access date 21 August 2011)
  19. ^ "2017 Locus Awards Winners". Locus Online News. 2017-06-24. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
  20. ^ "Elysium Fire and a new title for The Prefect". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  21. ^ "On the Steel Breeze (Poseidon's Children): Alastair Reynolds: Books". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  22. ^ Alastair Reynolds - On the Steel Breeze cover art reveal Archived 23 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ "Alastair Reynolds - Poseidon's Wake - Orion Publishing Group". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  24. ^ "Spirey and the Queen - a novelette by Alastair Reynolds". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  25. ^ "A Spy in Europa - a short story by Alastair Reynolds". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  26. ^ Science Fiction Book Club[permanent dead link]
  27. ^ Alastair Reynolds (17 January 2012). "Scales by Alastair Reynolds". Lightspeed Magazine. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  28. ^ "The Lowest Heaven anthology table of contents announced". 2013. Archived from the original on 24 March 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  29. ^ Alexander, Niall (12 June 2014). "Step into the Stars: Reach for Infinity, ed. Jonathan Strahan". Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  30. ^ "The Last Log of the Lachrimosa". Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  31. ^ "Sad Kapteyn". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  32. ^ "Open and shut". Retrieved 14 January 2018.

External links[edit]