The name "Revelation Space universe" has been used by Alastair Reynolds in both the introductory text in the collections Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days and Galactic North, and also on several editions of the novels set in the universe.
While a great deal of science fiction reflects either very optimistic or dystopian visions of the human future, the Revelation Space universe is 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 universe contains elements of Lovecraftian horror, with one posthuman entity stating explicitly that some things in the universe are fundamentally beyond human or transhuman understanding. Despite this, the main storyline is essentially optimistic, with humans continuing to survive even in a universe which seems fundamentally hostile to intelligent life..
There is little information available on the early history of the Revelation Space Universe, save that numerous wars occurred during the 21st and 22nd Centuries and that a flotilla of generation ships were deployed to colonise a planet orbiting the star 61 Cygni (this becomes a major segment of the plot of Chasm City). In 2190, the Conjoiners emerged as a result of increased experimentation with neural implants. In response, the Coalition for Neural Purity was formed, opposed to the Conjoiners. Nevil Clavain fought on the side of the Coalition in the ensuing war, but defected later on after being betrayed. Clavain, and the Conjoiners, succeeded in escaping the solar system and left for surrounding stars.
For the next few centuries, the so called Belle Epoque, humanity enjoyed a period of relative peace and prosperity, with several planets being colonised. The most successful planet of all was Yellowstone, a planet orbiting the star Epsilon Eridani, site of the Glitter Band and Chasm City. Technologies developed included the Conjoiner Drive, a gift from the Conjoiners (who resumed contact with humanity at an unknown time), advanced nanotechnology, and numerous other devices. With the exception of an attempted takeover on Yellowstone, no major incidents affected humanity during this time.
The belle epoque was terminated by the advent of the Melding Plague in 2510, a nanotechnological virus that destroyed all other nanotechnology it came into contact with. Only the Conjoiners were unaffected by this disaster, which devastated the civilsation around Yellowstone. War between the Demarchists and Conjoiners erupted as a result of the plague.
Meanwhile, activities around a far-flung human colony on the planet Resurgam, orbiting the star Delta Pavonis inadvertently attracted the attention of the Inhibitors. The Conjoiners, also made aware of this event, sent Clavain to recover certain weapons from the system that could be used to fend off the Inhibitors while the Conjoiners escaped. Clavain instead defected from the Conjoiners, intending to use the weapons to protect all of humanity. Skade, another Conjoiner, was sent to stop him and recover the weapons. They fought around the Resurgam system, with Clavain and his allies eventually obtaining the weapons. Clavain's ally Remontoire agreed to seek out alien assistance from the Hades Matrix, a nearby alien computer disguised as a neutron star, whilst Clavain sheltered refugees from Resurgam on another planet, later termed Ararat.
Remontoire returned in 2675, only a few days after Clavain's death at the hands of Skade, who had arrived with him. The humans who had been sent to find the Cache weapons were now at war with the Inhibitors, assisted by alien technology. Even so, it was realised that the humans would not last indefinitely, and the humans under Scorpio was decided to seek out the mysterious "Shadows", a race believed to be near a moon called Hela, site of a theocracy. Aura, daughter of Ana Khouri (an ally of Remontoire) infilitrated the theocracy under the pseusodonym Rashmika Els. After considerable conflict, Scorpio and Aura realised that contacting the Shadows was inadvisable. They instead contacted the Nestbuilders, who provided them with weapons capable of defeating the Inhibitors.
Humanity then enjoyed a second, 400 year long golden age. They were then attacked by the Greenfly, a rogue terraforming system of human origin that destroyed planets and converted them to millions of tiny habitats. The Greenfly began to subsume most of human space, with all efforts to stop them failing. The storyline of Revelation Space concludes with humanity leaving the milky way galaxy in an attempt to set up a new civilisation elsewhere.
All short stories and novellas in this universe to date are collected in Galactic North and Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, although Reynolds expressed interest in writing more stories set in the Revelation Space Universe in the future
|A Spy in Europa||1997-06|
|Great Wall of Mars||2000-02|
All are by Alastair Reynolds.