British Fiction Focus

Rackamore’s Retribution: Revealing Alastair Reynolds’ Revenger

Has there ever been a better time to be an Alastair Reynolds reader?

Just yesterday I was singing the praises of The Medusa Chronicles, a surprisingly substantial and suitably excellent extension of Arthur C. Clarke’s last short story of note, which the former astrophysicist co-authored with fellow speculative superstar Stephen Baxter.

Fast forward a few weeks and fans of the fella are sure to have their hands full with Beyond the Aquila Rift, an appropriately immense collection of the best of Reynolds’ short fiction. Not long after that, we’ll learn whether or not Slow Bullets—which I called “an excellent effort from one of British science fiction’s finest” in my review last June—can beat out the likes of Binti and The Builders to take home a Hugo Award for Best Novella. And then, in September, Reynolds’ next novel proper will be upon us. It’s called Revenger, and it’s said to be “an epic story of adventure set in the rubble of a ruined universe.”

The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilisations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives.

And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them…

Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It’s their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded with layers of protection—and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous.

Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore’s crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular.

From the dark, distant future, and the rubble of our solar system comes a tale of space pirates, buried treasure and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism… and of vengeance.

Sounds like it splits the difference between Firefly and Chris Wooding’s Retribution Falls novels, albeit with more of an emphasis on the sci in sci-fi than in either of those tall tales.

Way back when in February, Reynolds released a brief excerpt from his new book on his blog, Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon, which leans appealingly into the idea of a spaceship as a vessel that literally sails through space…

…and that’s probably the closest any of us are going to get to Revenger till September. Still, in the interim, Gollancz have given us a glimpse of its marvellous monochrome cover. Feast your eyes on this, my pretties!


Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.


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