Inhibitor Phase by Alastair Reynolds

  • US Release: October 12, 2021
  • UK Release: 26 Aug. 2021
  • Publisher: Gollancz
  • Publisher US: Orbit
  • ISBN-10: 0575090715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575090712
  • 480 pages
Animation I made waiting for this book to release. Music by yours truly.


For thirty years a tiny band of humans has been sheltering in the caverns of an airless, crater-pocked world called Michaelmas. Beyond their solar system lie the ruins of human interstellar civilization, stalked by a ruthless, infinitely patient cybernetic entity determined to root out the last few bands of survivors. One man has guided the people of Michaelmas through the hardest of times, and given them hope against the wolves: Miguel de Ruyter.
When a lone human ship blunders into their system, and threatens to lead the wolves to Michaelmas, de Ruyter embarks on a desperate, near-suicide mission to prevent catastrophe. But an encounter with a refugee from the ship—the enigmatic woman who calls herself only Glass—leads to de Ruyter’s world being turned upside down.

If you want to buy the book, here are a few links to get you on your way. Also, if audiobooks are your thing, John Lee will be narrating this just as he did the majority of Alastair Reynolds books, and can confirm, he performed Inhibitor Phase magically. I’m pretty sure Al intentionally was trying to stump the great narrator, writing some character situations sure to put his voicing abities in a tizzy. John Lee, obviously keen to take on the most challenging of roles, probably sent this emoji to Mr. Reynolds after he completed his recording:

“I’ll stump you next time!” Alastair Reynolds doesn’t really say, but it’s fun to pretend as they say.

My Review

Thank you to Net Galley and Orbit Books for the ERC approval, in exchange for a fair and honest review!

This book blew the barn doors open on the Revelation Space series previously written. It unassumingly brought in characters from the past I was 100 percent not expecting.

The gist is that we are further down the RS  timeline in a hidden colony of rare humans trying to survive the ever hunting inhibitors from dealing a death blow to possibly one of the last groups of humans.

As the book starts, Miguel De Ruyter is attempting to save his settlement by ensuring its not found by others in a very extreme manner. During this event, his future becomes somewhat entangled with a very mysterious person/survivor named “Glass”.

UK cover design:

What follows is an Odyssey of exploration through the remains of a destroyed, but advanced civilization that is at times very scary, horrible, magnificent, majestic, wondrous, and always nail-biting. Reynolds hit a home run, more like a bottom of the ninth, two out, down by 3, world series Grand Slam.

It has been a couple years since I went through all of the Revelation Space books, as a result, I was frustratingly forgetful about some of the key events. I believe I also read them out of sequence in some way as well as I didn’t realize what I was in for initially when I started them. I know I started with “Revelation Space” but I am not sure what order I read the rest of them as I didn’t realize they were all connected. I hope to re-read the series in order before too long, especially after reading Inhibitor Phase.

I kept enough of past characters and events to easily stay engaged and follow along though. Reynolds absolutely brought me back to that amazement and surreal atmosphere of previous RS books, but comfortably added to this grand cycle of far future human odyssey.

There are so many insanely crazy things to talk about in this book. If you haven’t yet read the past Alastair Reynolds stuff in this series, but are looking for an incredible space opera/science fiction read, this one fits the bill. Even without the past knowledge, you can be sure that you will get more out of this book than you will expect.

Do I dare divulge some of this madness to entice you? Of course. But, in order to avoid spoilers, I have to avoid talking about all these crazy things. I can say “John The Revelator” though, as well as “The Pattern Jugglers” and even “Nest Builders” “Ararat” “Spaceship” “Sleepers” and, I know I’m walking the line on revelaing too much but here it goes: “Quantum”.

Don’t blame me for almost giving the book away there, my review must have some component of the books material in order to make this even halfway entertaining. I mean, It’s the book you want to read, not the review. But when Mr. Reynolds writes a book, I am here to read it and in this case, command you if I could to read it too. I will settle for a simple 5 star recommendation in this case though.

My only criticism would fall at the end. The ending was a great fit and the tension was rising all the way to the finish. I guess I wanted an ending that led to a new revelation, to the beginning of a new series. Admittedly that would be very hard to do when humans have all but disappeared, but with hope and at least a few earthly people swinging around the universe, there is a chance for more. Of course, within what’s already been created, there are many characters and mysteries that have a backdrop that would welcome a book written around them, but that’s not up to me, is it?

Author Bio


Author’s Blog:

I’m Al, I used to be a space scientist, and now I’m a writer, although for a time the two careers ran in parallel. I started off publishing short stories in the British SF magazine Interzone in the early 90s, then eventually branched into novels. I write about a novel a year and try to write a few short stories as well. Some of my books and stories are set in a consistent future named after Revelation Space, the first novel, but I’ve done a lot of other things as well and I like to keep things fresh between books.

I was born in Wales, but raised in Cornwall, and then spent time in the north of England and Scotland. I moved to the Netherlands to continue my science career and stayed there for a very long time, before eventually returning to Wales.

In my spare time I am a very keen runner, and I also enjoying hill-walking, birdwatching, horse-riding, guitar and model-making. I also dabble with paints now and then. I met my wife in the Netherlands through a mutual interest in climbing and we married back in Wales. We live surrounded by hills, woods and wildlife, and not too much excitement.

Narrator Bio -John Lee

British narrator John Lee has read audiobooks in almost every conceivable genre, from Charles Dickens to Patrick O’Brian, and from the very real life of Napoleon to the entirely imagined lives of sorcerers and swashbucklers. He has won numerous Audie Awards and AudioFile Earphones Awards, and he was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile in 2009. Lee is also an accomplished stage actor and wrote and coproduced the feature films Breathing Hard and Forfeit.


2 thoughts on “Inhibitor Phase by Alastair Reynolds

    • Right on! Thanks for adding that, I’ll be hopping over to read it asap. I really enjoy the highly imaginitive writing style that is his, and I had been looking forward to this book since last year, so this one was just a ton of fun for me.

      Liked by 2 people

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