Ghosts in the machine who believe they’re alive, ten thousand space stations, each with its own government or political system, a woman whose only hope for survival is an instant decapitation: these are just a few of the big ideas floating around in Alastair Reynolds’ the Prefect.
My tour of Science Fiction brought me to the Prefect on a whim, and what a read it was. Though Reynolds constructs a complex universe, he doesn’t let the diverse concepts eclipse the central plot.
A dangerous conspiracy with vast tendrils threatens the Glitter Band, the democratic confederacy of ten thousand unique habitats. Despite the scope of the danger, murder is murder, and that’s where Prefects come in. Prefects protect the Glitter Band from crime, corruption, and other threats. Reynolds uses three points of view, the primary being that of Tom Dreyfus, a field Prefect who occasionally borders on the cliché. Thankfully, Reynolds doesn’t stress the noir theme too heavily.
The plot rocks along until nearly every thread is tied off. The most seemingly disparate elements get woven together. Reynolds injects enough action, including the ballsiest escape sequence I’ve ever read. I was pleased to learn that the Prefect is one in a much larger series, one I’m looking forward to exploring.