For some reason, my 2018 books have not been page-turners, and I am not sure why. I’ve picked up a lot of books that are enjoyable but not dying-to-see-what-happens good. This was one of the few exceptions, recommended to me by my avid sci-fi reader husband.
The best way to go about this book is to just dive in with no expectations. It is…a bit confusing. There are whole sentences that I couldn’t really parse, but got the gist of, enough to keep reading and get, more or less, what was going on. Even the mission of the ship Eriophora was hazy to me for a good part of the book. It builds gates and wormholes or something? But although I have a very hard time summarizing the details of the plot, I just had to keep reading.
What is clear from the beginning that there is an AI, Chimp, and there is our protagonist, Sunday. They are on a mission on the ship Eriophora (which builds gates or whatever). The humans like Sunday on this ship are built for this mission. They sleep for many hundreds/thousands of years, and wake up in order to complete gate-building missions of a few days, and then go back to sleep. I don’t want to give too much away, so suffice to say that some humans are beginning to question if this millions-of-years-long mission is worth it. Some of them decide to stage a revolution. (I don’t think I’m spoiling it. “Revolution” is in the title, after all.) But how do you do that when you’re only awake a few days out of thousands of years, on a millions-years journey? Codes, and memories, and graffiti, and…well, you should just read it.
The plot is great, but the writing is astounding. The world-building, the choice of details, the codes built into normal conversation, the vocabulary that Watts has invented, it all just makes a complete, immersive whole. Watts gives his readers a LOT of credit. It’s all showing, no telling, which makes the whole thing feel like a mystery (which it is, kind of!) The predicament, and the unraveling mystery feels both very distant and very urgent, and it’s so character-driven that you almost forget that Chimp is an AI. The sci-fi is hard, and good, and it’s also not really the point.
I just learned that this is one of a series, so I will definitely be reading the others over Christmas break. (This would be a great Christmas present for the sci-fi lover on your list!)