Grade: A (great book, must read regardless of what genres you enjoy. Makes you think of things beyond the scope of the book)
The Prefect is a stand alone novel and the most recent offering by Reynolds in his Revelation Space Universe. It is also arguably his best novel to date. It is effectively a police story with political ramifications that build upon the complex backdrop of his dark setting. With believable characters and the kind of realistic technology that one can expect from a former scientist with the European Space Agency, this book fully engaged me throughout.
Set before the events that define the majority of that series, most of the story takes place in the Glitterband, a loose union of confederated space stations that orbit the planet of Yellowstone. The crowning achievement of the ‘Demarchists‘ (democratic-anarchists), the Glitterband and Chasm City (the main settlement on the planet) are governed by a complex form of direct technologically dependent anarchistic democracy. The eponymous Prefects are the enforcing organization that ensure the voting system is kept fair and above boards. Though not directly part of the main ‘Inhibitor’ story arch that defines the Revelation Space Universe, The Prefect is loosely linked into it, giving even greater depth to this dark world. I suspect this will form the foundation of a new series.
The story follows Prefect Tom Dreyfus and his two subordinates as they gradually uncover a plot set at overthrowing this anarchistic confederation. This is nothing new to the intrepid policemen, whose jobs are dominated by groups trying to influence the technology that controls the voting system, but this time the threat is greater than they have ever encountered before. As the story unfolds, layers within the conspiracies are uncovered and Dreyfus and his people are forced to choose which of several evils is the least threatening to the Yellowstone and its way of life.
For those who have not the other books set in this universe, there is no need to do so; it stands alone on its own and is likely the start of a new series in its own right. For those who are already fans of his work, this book builds upon its strengths and plays beautifully into his rich and complex ‘verse.