Book Review: The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds

The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds. Gollancz, 2007. 9780575078185. 410pp.

I’ve been looking for a go-to space opera series since Iain M. Banks died, and I think I finally found it with the help of JB at BLMF books. (This bookstore is hidden in the bowels of Seattle’s Pike Place Market, but so worth finding if you’re looking for something to read.) JB said that where Banks is whimsical, Reynolds is brutal. Music to my ears.

The book did not disappoint. Ten thousand human habitats (the Glitter Band) orbit a star far from Earth. They’re utopian societies of a sort (some are disastrous) that participate in a democracy maintained by agents of the Panoply, a kind of military/police force. At the beginning of the book, Prefect Tom Dreyfus, with the help of his deputies, is investigating a subversion of the democratic process, but soon he has bigger problems to investigate — a habitat has been destroyed. Evidence points to it having been done by one of the Ultras’ lighthugger ship’s drives, but that’s just the start of an event that threatens all of the habitats. Telling you what it involves would really spoil the way the book unfolds. Truly brutal, necessary decisions are made along the way. Destined to become an HBO series.

I believe this is a prequel of sorts to the Revelation Space series, which I must now read in its entirety.


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