Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Prefect: Book Review

The “Space Operas” of Alastair Reynolds have recently drawn my attention. In particular, the Revelation Space series seems to offer a reprieve to the problems found in many science fiction novels.

In my latest science fiction binge, I have been clamouring for a classic. I was beginning to think that this classic did not exist and that I would continue to flounder amongst the mediocre characterisation and shallow plotlines that fill the ocean of this genre. The Prefect, however, is a beacon of excellence in both of these areas.

The Prefect follows the story of a policing force centred within The Glitter Band - a sprawling collection of 10,000 colonies revolving around planet Yellowstone. The vastness of the setting is indicative of the immense depth of the novel itself. Indeed, an impression is created that there is a story on each of these habitats just waiting to be told. The plot weaves throughout many of these colonies and the riveting parallel plots on these places are brought together with real literary mastery. It is not long before the reader is entranced by the immense detective story that unfolds at an enticing pace.

The plot depth is further bolstered by the layered and compelling characters. It is possible to empathise with all the characters (or at least all the human ones!) of the novel and this greatly enhances its’ appeal. By creating these ambiguous and realistic characters, Reynolds engages in debates on the issues of democracy, law and free will to name but a few. More importantly, these discussions are adequately detailed and expanded on.

Science Fiction is a genre that many exercise, but few excel at. Alastair Reynolds is one of these few and this is evident in The Prefect.

-The English Student

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