''Revelation Space'' is the first novel in the [[MohsScaleOfSciFiHardness Hard Sci-Fi]] SpaceOpera series of [[Literature/RevelationSpaceSeries the same name]], by Creator/AlastairReynolds.

The book opens in the year 2551, [[NamingYourColonyWorld on the planet]] [[MeaningfulName Resurgam]]. Resurgam is considered a technological backwater on the edge of colonized human space. Founded only decades before, the colony has not yet had time to develop. Dan Sylveste, an [[AdventurerArchaeologist archaeologist]], [[MeanBoss leader of the colony]], and [[BlueBlood wealthy scion of a prominent scientific family]], leads a team excavating the remains of the Amarantin, a [[AbsentAliens long-dead primitive civilization]] from nearly a million years ago. There, he discovers new evidence that the Amarantin had achieved a [[AdvancedAncientAcropolis much higher level of technological sophistication]] than previously thought...before they were [[{{Gotterdammerung}} wiped out in a single mysterious cataclysm]]. Fearing the same catastrophe could befall humanity, Sylveste races against time to unlock the mysteries of the Amarantin civilization before dust storms, unruly colonists, and his own sordid past can catch up with him.

MeanwhileInThePast, the ship ''Nostalgia for Infinity'' is enroute to the planet Yellowstone to find Sylveste. The ship is an ancient "lighthugger", designed to slowly accelerate for years on end until it is traveling at close to the speed of light, spending decades cruising between the stars. Designed to carry hundreds of thousands of colonists in cryogenic suspension, now its crew is only a handful of Ultras [[{{Transhuman}} highly-modified humans]] adapted to the rigors of long interstellar spaceflight. They're desperate to find Sylveste because their Captain has been infected with the "Melding Plague", a ([[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane possibly alien]]) virus that attacks nanotechnology and living cells in equal measure, perverting and warping them into [[BodyHorror grotesque combinations]]. It's believed that [[TheOnlyOneITrust only the technological expertise of the Sylveste family]] can help cure the Captain. But [[MundaneDogmatic in a universe without faster-than-light travel]], the crew does not realize it [[WildGooseChase has been more than 15 years]] since Sylveste [[YourPrincessIsInAnotherCastle left Yellowstone to found the colony]] on Resurgam.

On Yellowstone itself, a [[ProfessionalKiller professional assassin]] named Ana Khouri has been hired to infiltrate the crew of the ''Nostalgia for Infinity'' once it reaches Yellowstone. Khouri's employer knows the ship will follow Sylveste to the edge of human space, and so gives Khouri explicit orders to kill Sylveste, at all costs, when the ''Nostalgia for Infinity'' finds him.

Due to the time dilation effects of light-speed travel, the novel juxtaposes three different plotlines as happening concurrent with each other, despite being separated by decades. The whole thing is set against the backdrop of Reynold's expansive and complex [[TheVerse universe]], which the novel introduces.
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!!This novel provides examples of the following tropes:
* AbsentAliens: ''Revelation Space'' is littered with examples of this, though the reasons for why are only hinted at towards the end of the novel. The sequels further explore and explain this.
* ActionGirl: Both Ilia Volyova and Ana Khouri, verging at points into BackToBackBadasses.
* AHouseDivided: The ''Nostalgia For Infinity'' - the entire crew hates each others guts and are all capable (and willing) to murder each other.
* AlienGeometries: The Shrouds. Spacetime near the "edges" is under a constant state of flux, meaning that any ship that attempts to approach is [[LudicrousGibs torn apart by the wildly shifting tidal forces]].
** Also, the [[spoiler:Inhibitor "Jewel" at the center of the mysterious planet]] orbiting Hades. When [[spoiler:Sylveste first sees it, it appears to be rotating in the center of a chamber. However, as he proceeds straight towards it, it appears to him that the walls of the chamber are rotating, while the Jewel is fixed, implying that the Jewel is dragging spacetime around it.]]
* AmbiguouslyBrown: Ana Khouri. Though concerning her roots on Sky's Edge and her given name, she probably has South American ancestry. (The surname is her husband's, who is of Middle Eastern descent.)
* AnachronicOrder: Literally; the different plotlines take place decades apart and later combine (or rather, the earlier ones "catch up" to the latest one) due to relativistic time-dilation.
* AntiMatter: Used as a weapon of mass destruction, and as a highly efficient fuel. Ack-am launchers fire tiny pellets of normal matter containing a magnetic confinement field for the antimatter. [[spoiler: Sylveste has a pinhead of anti-matter in his eye, used to coerce the Triumvirate into helping him]]
* AnyoneCanDie
* CoolOldGuy: [[PlayingWithTropes Played with]] Sylveste. He's been alive for [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld hundreds of years]] due to relativistic space travel, but that doesn't really count due to hibernation and time dilation. However, even accounting for that, he's subjectively in his sixties.
* BadassNormal: A lot of the main characters, but Volyova probably takes the cake. MacGyvering ? Check. {{Batman Gambit}}s ? Check. DeadpanSnarker ? ''Check.'' SmokingIsCool ? ''Double check.''
* BadassLongcoat: Ana Khouri wears one while on a Shadowplay assasination assignment in Chasm City. They're also popular on Sky's Edge, where she was born.
* BigDumbObject: Several:
** The sealed [[spoiler: advanced Amarantin city]] is initially presented as this; it's a gargantuan shell surrounded by solid rock.
** The [[spoiler:mysterious planet orbiting Hades]] is revealed to actually be an immense [[spoiler:Amarantin]] artifact. When [[spoiler:Sylveste and the gang]] manage to get inside, they discover that it's composed of [[spoiler:layers and layers of different Amarantin defenses, like several Big Dumb Objects all stacked around each other in a kind of Matrioshka doll]].
** And, of course, at the end when it's revealed that [[spoiler: the neutron star Hades is actually a ''giant alien supercomputer'']].
* BodyHorror: The effects of the Melding Plague.
* BodySnatcher: Calvin's ability to take over Dan's body (with Dan's permission) to perform a complicated surgery.
* BrainUploading: The backstory mentions a group of people known as "The Eighty" who were the first to attempt BrainUploading. They all died (well, technically, their simulations were corrupted or went irreversibly insane).
** Dan Sylveste's father, Calvin Sylveste, was one of the Eighty, and presumably is dead as well. However, Dan has a slight-lesser-quality simulation of Calvin (a "beta-level", as opposed to an "alpha level" like the Eighty) that proves to be frighteningly convincing.
*** [[spoiler:Actually, we find out later that Dan "sold" his father's alpha level simulation to the pattern jugglers in order to give Dan the right brain patterns in order to enter the shroud.]]
* CasualInterstellarTravel: [[AvertedTrope Averted]]. It takes decades to get between stars, and even getting a ride on a Lighthugger is rare outside of the core planets like Yellowstone. Border worlds may have a Lighthugger drop by only after a couple decades.
* CoolStarShip: The ''[[http://www.solarvoyager.com/uploads/atrasicarius/nostalgia_for_infinity.jpg Nostalgia For Infinity]]''
* CrystalSpiresAndTogas: Chasm City, at least until [[spoiler:the Melding Plague ruins everything]].
* {{Cyborg}} : A lot of the future factions of humanity have {{Transhuman}}ist trappings, at least as far as having with various brain implants. The Conjoiners are a whole society of these, the Ultras and Demarchists less so.
* CultureChopSuey : A given, with humanity being quite a cosmopolitan mix during the events of the trilogy, especially on old and densely inhabited colony worlds like Yellowstone. Nationalities play a far lesser role than back on [[EarthThatWas Earth]] and the main new political and social divisions are purely ideological factions (such as the Conjoiners, the Demarchists, the Ultranauts, etc.). Some characters' names give obvious hints about a great mixing of nationalities.
** Yellowstone is a cosmopolitan mix of a planet, settled mostly by American, European and East Asian colonists. Sky's Edge was settled by Latin American, Middle Eastern and Central Asian nationalities.
* DeathWorld: The AllPlanetsAreEarthLike trope gets a major kick in the shins in this series. The most Earth-like planet mentioned is Sky's Edge, which is full of hostile life that is biologically incompatible with Earth life. Eating it will kill you (and vice versa) or do nothing. Then there are the Pattern Jugglers - algae-like StarfishAliens inhabiting planets with global oceans - that usually act benign, but once in a while someone who swims with them doesn't come back, [[CameBackWrong comes back wrong]], [[EmptyShell or worse]]. Also, Yellowstone, the most important and most populated interstellar colony of humanity, has an atmosphere and surface very similar to Saturn's moon Titan, so only the giant domed settlements (like Chasm City or [[{{Egopolis}} Loreanville]]) and orbital habitats are actualy populated. Pretty much all planets in the series are either uninhabitable, barely habitable (without advanced tech) or habitable, but full of EverythingTryingToKillYou.
* DeathFromAbove: Threatened by Volyova in ''Revelation Space'', who uses one of her ship's smallest weapons to devastating effect as a warning to the inhabitants of Resurgam. She also has access to teratonne-yield nukes and "hell class" weapons that could conceivably shatter worlds.
* DemotedToExtra: Khouri's role is lessened throughout the novels; she only plays a relatively small role in ''AbsolutionGap''
* DomedHometown: Most cities have pressurized domes over them to allow for a breathable atmosphere. Chasm City is the most notable, with a 60 kilometer wide dome covering the city and the volcano-like rupture in the center that provides the gases used to make the city's air supply.
* DramaticUnmask: When Dan finds [[spoiler:Sajaki's empty powersuit, revealing that the "Sajaki" he thought had been accompanying him and talking to him was actually the Sun Stealer]].
* EldritchStarship: The ''Nostalgia for Infinity''
* ElectronicEyes: Dan Sylveste. At first he has advanced eyes that are able to record all that he sees and playback later for review, along with taking snapshots and live-zooming. Later, though, his eyes are damaged and are repaired with local parts on Resurgam, leading to a terrible security-cam-like vision (i.e. black and white, slow framerate, etc).
* EternalEnglish : [[AvertedTrope Averted]]. Though the stories are all in English via TranslationConvention, it is clearly stated that human languages 500 years in the future have continued to further evolve. Notable examples are the two main languages: [[LatinLand Norte]] and [[CanadaEh Can]]-[[FarEast asian]]. In a throwaway comment, Volyova refers to her native language as "[[FutureSlang Russish]]" (presumably some descendant of Russian).
* FantasticSlurs : Yellowstonian Demarchists call Conjoiners "spiders" and rogue Demarchists, Skyjacks and Ultras "zombies". The "spider" nickname was also used by the Coalition for Neural Purity seen in the chronologically earliest installments of the series. Conjoiners refer to baseline humans as "the retarded".
** InSeriesNickname : The Yellowstonians (and apparently people from other terrestrial planets as well) often refer to themselves as "Stoners".
* ForgottenSuperweapon: The [[NoPlansNoPrototypeNoBackup "Cache Weapons"]] aboard ''Nostalgia for Infinity''. They're also known as [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast "Hell-Class"]] weapons.
* GrandTheftMe: What [[spoiler:the Captain]] did to [[spoiler:Sajaki]] prior to the events of ''Revelation Space''.
** Though it technically is more of a BodySnatcher example, as the "host" mind is overwritten and effectively "killed".
** Also played straight and subverted by [[spoiler:Calvin Sylveste]], who had originally engineered [[spoiler:Dan Sylveste as a clone of himself to make it easier to possibly imprint a copy of himself into Dan's brain.]] While he does do this near the end of the book (and had already done it once previously), it's more of a two minds/one body relationship.
* GratuitousRussian : Volyova, but only when she gets particularly frustrated or angry (so it's mostly limited to swear words or snarky comments).
** With [[FakeRussian fairly bad Russian grammar]] at that (she doesn't seem to differentiate between singular and plural forms of her favourite cussword). [[LampshadeHanging She does mention]], however, that [[AuthorsSavingThrow her knowledge of "Russish" isn't what it used to be]].
* GreyGoo: [[PlayingWithTropes Played with]] the Melding Plague. It absolutely devastates [[spoiler:Chasm City]], horrible killing thousands of people and mutating the affected landscape. [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in that it only attacks ''nanotech'', meaning that normal matter (and baseline humans without any nanotech in their body) are completely unaffected.
* GunPorn: The "[[PunnyName Warchive]]" aboard the ''Nostalgia for Infinity'', which can reproduce any weapon from recorded human history. Volyova and Khouri make good use of it at the end of novel, when they need to arm themselves.
* HumanPopsicle: Most starship passengers, as it's either cryo or spend years or decades awake between stars.
* HuntingTheMostDangerousGame: Shadowplay, in which the bored, virtually immortal residents of Chasm City are hunted by professional assassins according to pre-agreed rules. The game is set up so most of the clients survive, in order that people will keep paying for the thrill-seeking experience.
* IceQueen: Volyova
* InsistentTerminology: "Servitors" [[CallARabbitASmeerp for robots]] (non-sentient worker ones, but still).
** What are these "cryogenics" you speak of? They're called "reefersleep", dammit ! And flying cars are "[[EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench volantors]]", get it?
* LastNameBasis: Most of the characters in the novels address each other by last-name only; Ilia Volyova and Ana Khouri being the only ones whose first name is said more than a couple times.
* MatterReplicator: The universe has "Manufactories", which are essentially extremely adaptable factories ranging from the size of a washing machine to enormous kilometer wide constructs. The devices require matter, and some time to actually build the object, but they can build a huge array of devices. The first novel, ''Revelation Space'', has the "Warchive" on the starship ''Nostalgia For Infinity'', which is a manufactory specifically designed to build guns, with an archive of millions of weapons from the modern age of the 2500s to pre-history. If given certain parameters, it will splice together different guns to get the desired elements.
* MeanwhileInTheFuture: A given, with all the TimeDilation and AnachronicOrder going on.
* MileLongShip: Lighthuggers are roughly 4 km tall.
* MoreThanMindControl: When it's not simply driving it's hosts mad, the [[EldritchAbomination Sun Stealer]]'s influence on people is implied to be this. For example, [[spoiler:Dan Sylveste's]] urge to go to Resurgam, despite [[spoiler:there being no good reason to go there, let alone found a colony and begin archaeological digs]].
** Also implied with [[spoiler:Calvin and Dan's relationship. Dan somehow never seems aware that he is Calvin's clone (he still believes the entire time that he is just Calvin's son), despite all the important and odd details he knows (such as the fact that Calvin can take over his body like a puppeteer). Also, despite their antagonistic relationship, Calvin seems to have an undue influence on Dan's decisions.]]
* MysteriousAntarctica / GrimUpNorth: Much of Resurgam is like this, due to still being largely unpopulated and partially terraformed.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: [[spoiler:What Dan Sylveste and the Nostalgia's crew unwillingly put into motion at the end of ''Revelation Space'']].
* NoHuggingNoKissing
* NonActionGuy: Dan Sylveste. He is a main character, and is certainly ''around'' a lot of action, but largely avoids most of it himself.
* OmnidisciplinaryScientist : Dan Sylveste and his father, Calvin.
* PoweredArmor : The [[AMechByAnyOtherName "suits"]] are a very versatile example of this trope. Powerful enough to probably wipe out an entire modern-day army. Slightly subverted in that the suit will "take over" if it deems the situation too dangerous to trust to relatively-slow human reflexes (at which point the person inside becomes little more than glorified cargo).
* ProjectedMan : Many of the "entoptic" simulations and personal avatars are presented as this.
* ReactionlessDrive: The Conjoiner drive effectively works like a reactionless drive; while it does spew out plasma capable of slicing through a ship's hull, it does not require fuel, as [[spoiler: it is simply a wormhole to an alternate dimension before the Big Bang]]. Other forms of propulsion avert this, and even the ships with Conjoiner drives need to carry fuel for their vernier thrusters.
* SchizoTech: Sky's Edge armies hit this; some soldiers will be carrying what are essentially AK-47s with some computer integration, while others will be using artificially intelligent suits of PoweredArmor wielding anti-matter cannons, turning them into a PersonOfMassDestruction
* ShownTheirWork: Reynolds is a former astronomer and a former ESA employee.
* SolarSail: [[WeaponizedExhaust Weaponized]]. A ship constructs a solar sail and releases the sail behind its engines, using the engines to propel the sail backwards at the ship pursuing it. The speed difference between the ship and the sail would be enough to instantly destroy the ship.
* SpaceDoesNotWorkThatWay : Averted. Related to the ShownTheirWork entry.
* SpacePeople: Many Ultranauts, such as Triumvir Hegazi, have never set foot on anything that wasn't built by man.
* SpacePirates: Ultras are seen as pirates, even when they are (mostly) honest traders. The ''Nostalgia for Infinity'' was used to raid ships before the events of ''Revelation Space'' - and during the events of ''Revelation Space'', they threaten to nuke cities from orbit to coerce the population into releasing Sylveste.
* SpiritAdvisor: The Mademoiselle's beta-level sim in Ana Khouri's implants. Also, Calvin's simulation to Dan, once Calvin figures out how to get around various safeguards and pop into Dan's visual field whenever he wants to...
* StarshipLuxurious: The ''Nostalgia For Infinity'' used to be this, and while it still fits in with the ''enormous'' part of a luxurious starship, it's [[EverythingIsTryingToKillYou not a very nice place to be]].
* TitleDrop: "Revelation Space" refers to the region of spacetime around a Shroud; the one person who survived a close encounter later describes having alien knowledge downloaded into his brain.
* TomatoInTheMirror: [[spoiler:Dan Syvleste]], *twice*. He's the last to realize that [[spoiler:Sun Stealer]] has stowed away in his mind, and he doesn't find out that [[spoiler:he's his father's clone]] until moments before [[spoiler:he blows himself up]].
* TheEveryman: Ana Khouri is the most ordinary of the main cast. Unsurprisingly, she's also technically TheHero.
* VillainProtagonist: Ilia Volyova for most of the first novel.
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