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 57)[1]
Barry, United Kingdom[1]
former research astronomer with the European Space Agency
GenreScience fiction

Alastair Preston Reynolds (born 13 March 1966) is a British[2] 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 studied physics and astronomy. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in astrophysics from the University of St Andrews.[3] 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, typically in the sub-genres of space opera and noir, 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.[4] 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 six novels, seven novellas, and six short stories set over a span of several centuries, spanning approximately AD 2205 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 tetralogy consisting of Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap, and Inhibitor Phase deals with humanity coming to the attention of the Inhibitors and the resultant war between them.[1]

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 Reynolds, while Century Rain is a "personal favorite", he has "sworn there will never be a sequel".[5]

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. Reynolds states that he is "firmly intending" to return to the Pushing Ice setting to write a sequel.[6]

The Prefect marked a return to the Revelation Space universe. Like Chasm City, it is a stand-alone novel within that setting. It is set prior to any of the other Revelation Space novels, though still 200 years after the original human settlement is established on the planet Yellowstone in the Epsilon Eridani system. It was published in the United Kingdom on 2 April 2007. Since its publication, the title of The Prefect has been changed to Aurora Rising to more align with the name of the sequel, Elysium Fire, which was published in 2018, marking the first novel length return to the Revelation Space universe since 2007.[7] This sub-series within the Revelation Space universe is now called The Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies. Reynolds states that he has "tentative plans for three more Dreyfus titles, with an arc that would eventually take him beyond Yellowstone, and then back again."[6]

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."[5] As with Pushing Ice, Reynolds also states that he is "firmly intending" to return to the House of Suns setting to write a sequel.[6]

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.[5]

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.[8]

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).[9][10] 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.[10]

His forthcoming work includes "Banish", which will be appearing in Multiverses by Preston Grassmann (ed.) for Titan Publishing.[11]

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.[12] His short story "Weather" won the Japanese National Science Fiction Convention's Seiun Award for Best Translated Short Fiction.[13] His novels Absolution Gap and The Prefect have also been nominated for previous BSFA awards.[14][15] Reynolds has been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award three times, for his novels Revelation Space,[16] Pushing Ice[17] and House of Suns.[18] In 2010, he won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for his short story "The Fixation".[19] His novella Troika made the shortlist[20] for the 2011 Hugo Awards.[21][22] His Novel Revenger received the 2017 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book.[23] 


On 10 March 2019 Alastair Reynolds announced that his short stories "Zima Blue" and "Beyond the Aquila Rift" had been adapted as part of Netflix's animated anthology Love, Death & Robots. These stories are the first of Reynolds's works to be adapted for TV or film.[24]



Revelation Space series[edit]

The Inhibitor Sequence:

  1. Revelation Space. London: Gollancz, 2000. ISBN 978-0-44-100942-8
  2. Redemption Ark. London: Gollancz, 2002. ISBN 0-575-06879-5
  3. Absolution Gap. London: Gollancz, 2003. ISBN 0-575-07434-5
  4. Inhibitor Phase. London: Gollancz, 2021. ISBN 978-0-57-509071-2

The Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies:

  1. The Prefect/Aurora Rising. London: Gollancz, 2007, ISBN 0-575-07716-6
  2. Elysium Fire. London: Gollancz, 2018, ISBN 0-575-09058-8
  3. Machine Vendetta. London: Gollancz, 2024, ISBN 978-0-316-46285-3. (Forthcoming, Jan 2024)


Poseidon's Children Universe[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[25][26]
  3. Poseidon's Wake. London: Gollancz, 2015, ISBN 978-0-575-09049-1[27]

Revenger Universe[edit]

  1. Revenger. London: Gollancz, 2016, ISBN 978-057-509053-8
  2. Shadow Captain. London: Gollancz, 2019, ISBN 978-057-509063-7
  3. Bone Silence. London: Gollancz, 2020, ISBN 978-057-509067-5

Doctor Who (Third Doctor)[edit]




Uncollected 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.[37]
  • "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.
  • "Ascension Day" – Originally published in Voices from the Past (May 2011), reprinted in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection (2012, ISBN 978-1-250-00354-6), Gardner Dozois, ed.
  • "Sad Kapteyn" – Originally published online by the School of Physics and Astronomy, Queen Mary University of London[38]
  • "Remainers" - Originally published in Tales from the Edge: Escalation, Spiral Arm Studios (July 2017), Stephen Gaskell ed.
  • "Polished Performance" – Published in Made To Order: Robots and Revolution, Solaris Press (March 2020), Jonathan Strahan ed.
  • "Things To Do In Deimos When You're Dead" - Published in Asimov's Science Fiction (September/October 2022)
  • "End User" - Published online on Medium (June 2023)[39]
  • "Detonation Boulevard" - Published online in (July 2023)[40]

Essays, reporting and other contributions[edit]

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

External links[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Strahan, Jonathan, ed. (2010), Godlike Machines, Garden City, New York: Science Fiction Book Club, p. 1, ISBN 978-1-61664-759-9
  2. ^ "Alastair Reynolds on Trying to Encompass the Entire History of Science Fiction in One Novel". 4 November 2022.
  3. ^ "Once a physicist: Alastair Reynolds". Archived from the original on 26 August 2019. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  4. ^ Science fiction 'thrives in hi-tech world' BBC News Monday, 30 April 2007
  5. ^ a b c "Novels | Alastair Reynolds". Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  6. ^ a b c Ulen, Neal. "An Interview with Best-Selling Science Fiction Author Alastair Reynolds". Futurism. Archived from the original on 17 January 2019. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  7. ^ R, Al (25 July 2017). "Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon: Elysium Fire and a new title for The Prefect".
  8. ^ "Science fiction author lands £1m book deal". The Guardian. 22 June 2009.
  9. ^ "Teahouse on the Tracks (Alastair Reynolds)".
  10. ^ a b Reynolds, Alastair. "Novels". Archived from the original on 7 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Forthcoming Stories | Alastair Reynolds". Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  12. ^ "Past BSFA awards". Archived from the original on 30 April 2009.
  13. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: 2008 Seiun Awards". Archived from the original on 26 May 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Bibliography: Absolution Gap". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Bibliography: The Prefect". 25 June 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  16. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: 2001 Arthur C. Clarke Award". Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  17. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: 2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award". 25 April 2006. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  18. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: 2009 Arthur C. Clarke Award". 29 April 2009. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  19. ^ "Bibliography: The Fixation". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  20. ^ "Renovation – Hugo Awards". Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  21. ^ "Bibliography: Troika". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  22. ^ Locus, 2011 Hugo and Campbell Awards Winners (access date 21 August 2011)
  23. ^ "2017 Locus Awards Winners". Locus Online News. 24 June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  24. ^ Reynolds, Alastair (10 March 2019). "Love, Death & Robots". Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon (author's official blog). Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  25. ^ On the Steel Breeze (Poseidon's Children): Alastair Reynolds: Books. ASIN 0575090456.
  26. ^ Alastair Reynolds – On the Steel Breeze cover art reveal Archived 23 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Alastair Reynolds – Poseidon's Wake – Orion Publishing Group". Archived from the original on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  28. ^ Reynolds, Alastair (4 August 2021). "I've delivered a new book". Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon (Reynolds' personal blog).
  29. ^ "Spirey and the Queen – a novelette by Alastair Reynolds". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  30. ^ "A Spy in Europa – a short story by Alastair Reynolds". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  31. ^ "The Last Log of the Lachrimosa". Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  32. ^ Alexander, Niall (12 June 2014). "Step into the Stars: Reach for Infinity, ed. Jonathan Strahan". Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  33. ^ "Forthcoming Books". 29 August 2017.
  34. ^ "The Lowest Heaven anthology table of contents announced". 2013. Archived from the original on 24 March 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  35. ^ "Open and shut". Archived from the original on 15 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  36. ^ "Science Fiction Book Club".[permanent dead link]
  37. ^ Alastair Reynolds (17 January 2012). "Scales by Alastair Reynolds". Lightspeed Magazine. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  38. ^ "Sad Kapteyn". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  39. ^ "End User". Retrieved 7 June 2023.
  40. ^ "Detonation Boulevard". Retrieved 12 July 2023.