Alastair Reynolds

Revelation Space book cover: a spaceship against a planet

Although Alastair Reynolds worked as a research astronomer with the European Space Agency from 1991-2004, his early love of writing was revealed when he published his first four short stories while still a graduate student. Alastair is probably best known for his Revelation Space series, comprising six novels, two novellas and at least eight short stories. The series covers a span of nearly six centuries beginning in 2150 and is notable for its adherence to hard science; in the Revelation Space universe, Einstein rules, and even the fastest ships (known as lighthuggers) travel slower than light. The first book - after which the series is named - appeared in 2000, while the most recent, The Prefect, was published in the UK in April 2007.

Published in 2004, Century Rain marks a departure not only from the Revelation Space universe, but also from Einstein’s harsh laws. In Century Rain, faster-than-light travel is permitted via a series of wormholes.

Other works include Pushing Ice (2005), which takes place during a much earlier time than Alastair’s other works, and his upcoming House of Suns, which leaps into deep time.

Although House of Suns takes place circa one million A.D., galaxy-wide civilizations still inevitably fail because no form of faster-than-light communication is possible. However, one faction seeks another solution; they’ll simply reshape the galaxy to make it smaller. This feat - however difficult - is well within the laws of physics.