The physical universe is the sum of all things that can physically interact with each other, or could have in the past, or can in the future, including space-time, matter, energy, and the physical forces. Each Alastair Reynolds story takes place in a physical universe, and the fact that most of them share many characteristics with our own, real-life universe is why Reynolds' works are often called 'hard' science fiction. For example, in the Revelation Space universe, a Big Bang cosmology is the case: early in the universe's history, everything was in a small, dense region of space known as a singularity, and then the universe expanded quickly, resulting in the vast and varied structures that allowed for many kinds of life to independently evolve, including humans. The 'conjoiner drive' engines of lighthuggers, a kind of ship used by some of those humans, depends on the inflationary nature of the universe to function.
However, often when speaking of a universe in relation to Reynolds' stories we refer instead to a fictive universe, which is the widest narrative setting which a story can take place in, and which stories can share. This term is one defined somewhat by exclusion: We know that stories of the Revelation Space universe do not share a universe with those of the Lines universe, since details differ between the settings as to the timing and nature of humanity's expansion from their home planetary system, and what happens to them as they do so. Other settings may not have an indicable fact separating them, but especially in Reynolds' works an overall tone generally distinguishes the settings as well.
Some but not all fictive universes are organised into commercial franchises such as series and may be named by Reynolds suchly; but others are not, with stories spread across standalone works or interspersed into collections, and so for now it falls to fans to provisionally name them. While technically each Reynolds story must be in a fictive universe of some sort, we do not list 'universes' that have only one work in them here (two is the minimum), and some works may share a universe that has not (yet) been made clear. With those caveats in mind, following is a list of Reynolds fictional universes; lists of works contained in them may be found at their respective pages.
list of fictive universes[edit | edit source]
- Revelation Space universe -- new/gothic space opera, themes of punk and paranoia
- Lines universe -- perhaps more accessibly known as the House of Suns universe after the book that introduced it, the feel is somewhat influenced by fairy tales in terms of being dreamlike, and is centered on the ubiquity of human metacivilisations such as the Lines.
- Poseidon's Children, about post-climate-catastrophe humanity
- Merlin universe, following humanity as they are scattered and diminished by conflict
- That which Carrie Clay is from (to be named)