Inhibitor Phase • 2021 • Space Opera novel by Alastair Reynolds

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis: Inhibitors are alien machines which nearly extinguished humanity. The novel follows Miguel de Ruyter who fled to a reclused, battered world Michaelmas with his family and a small community. They smallest sign of technology would reactivate the Inhibitors attention and lead to their destruction. 

One day, a spaceship passed their system and Miguel set out to destroy it before it would bring unwanted attention. He finds a lone survivor, and from there, every went different, because she knows about Miguel’s past. 

To protect his family, he needs to leave them behind and follow the survivor on a quest against the Inhibitors.

Review: I’m no Reynolds specialist, his lineup of doorstoppers seemed always daunting to me. The only longer novel from him that I’ve read is Revelation Space, and that one didn’t exactly blow me away. On the other hand I’ve consumed a longer list from his short fiction, and most of them were really great. There’s his 2007 post-post apocalypse “The sledge maker’s daughter” (review), his 2014 story “In Babelsberg” (review), a hard SF story “A Murmuration” (review), Sun drilling in “16 Questions for Kamala Chatterchee” (review), and the longest and most current novella from him I’ve read so far “Permafrost” (review). That’s quite a lot for one author on my blog, but still: I seem to run around this author and don’t dare to dive into his work. Funny, because I like his (short) work so much! Do you have similar restraints from certain authors?

Having said that, this is the second novel from Reynolds. It didn’t seem like a huge risk, because it’s standalone, though set loosely in the Revelation Space series (relating this novel to the whereabouts of the whole series is left as an exercise to the reader). That’s the first good thing about it for someone who only dares to tip his toes into the cold water.

Then, there is the ever increasing tension, starting slowly, building up dread step by step, never letting your attention wander around. Mind-blowing at the end.

And then the sidekicks stealing the show: Pinky is a sardonic, absolutely loyal uplifted swine (called “hyperpigs”) and Agent Glass with superpowers. As one could suspect, they deliver a lot of relentless action-thriller. Together with main protagonist Miguel, they have a lot to say about identity and transformation. But wait, this is not a philosophical book, and thank you for that.

So many brilliant, vivid aliens, technology, crafts, and space! This is truly epic, as far as a Space Opera can go. Of course, it isn’t Hard SF, some parts of the fiction aren’t exactly plausible, but the disbelief und upcoming questions are overridden by the novel’s pacing, finishing off with an interesting conclusion. 

Will I return to Reynolds? Certainly, there’s a new short-story in the Made to Robots anthology. but will I dive into the Revelation swamp? Here I’m more a procrastinator, but tempted more through this enjoyable book.

Meta: isbn 9780575090712. Published in the UK at 26.08.2021 by Orion Publishing Group.

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19 Responses to Inhibitor Phase • 2021 • Space Opera novel by Alastair Reynolds

  1. pdtillman says:

    Thanks for your intriguing review! I’m with you re the doorstoppers & long series.
    Since you like his shorts, you should take a look at his MASSIVE collxn “Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds.” My take:
    I bought the Kindle ed. Which was a mistake, as Amazon’s Mac ebook reader has been down for MONTHS. No more Kindle books for me! I hope they eventually get it working again. What a PITA.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ola G says:

    I similarly read his shirt stories and novellas (Galactic North) but never read any novel. Bart slightly discouraged me from it as it seems that most Reynolds’s novels are pretty similar to one another, but a standalone is worth a try! Thanks for the rec, Andreas!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bormgans says:

    This seems to be a sequel to the RS trilogy, might give him another try, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hah! Michiel de Ruyter was a famous Dutch admiral.

    I’ve read all of his Revelation Space novels and am really looking forward to this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is the first time I’ve heard of the new Reynolds novel and it sounds very intriguing, so thank you very much for a very compelling review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well done!!! I’m glad you included Pinky in the review. I knew I would run on for 2,000 words if I let myself dive into the loveliness that is this one of a kind Hyperpig. For having read mainly his shorter works, a few I wasn’t even aware of (Thank you) you were brave to start here. So glad you enjoyed it as much as anyone else would!

    Liked by 1 person

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