Out of my dozen or so novels, and fifty-odd short stories, there’s no doubt that it’s the material related to the Revelation Space universe that attracts the most interest from readers. There are obvious reasons for this. My early novels were all set against that background, as well as some of the stories that I wrote when I was first beginning to attract any attention from the wider SF community. The RS universe is also big enough to contain lots of stories, and the combination of deep timescales, awesome technologies and mysterious alien species and artefacts, seems to touch a chord with many readers. Judging from correspondence, readers also like the intricate character histories, weird inventions, glimpses of other worlds, and the overall gothic horror shadings of the whole enterprise. For my own part, I enjoy writing in the RS universe but it can be very challenging to slot a new story into the existing architecture.
The Revelation Space universe currently encompasses five novels and a cluster of short stories, of which all but “Monkey Suit” are collected in the books Galactic North and Diamond Dogs and Turquoise Days. It might come as a surprise, but there is no “Bible” or extensive set of background notes. Yes, I had notes and files open when I worked on each book, but I never carried one over to the next. My inclination instead is to just make it up as I go along and trust that I do not involve myself in too many glaring contradictions. If you’re the sort of reader who really does get upset about detail A in book X not squaring with detail B in book Y, you probably need to find another author. If, on the other hand, you think that it’s the story that matters, and that inconsistencies are all but unavoidable when working on such a big canvas, over such a long personal timescale (I’ve been writing this stuff for more than twenty years) then hopefully you can enjoy the RS stuff despite the odd internal glitch.
Like M John Harrison, I am skeptical of the intrinsic worth of worldbuilding. That said, there’s no harm in a bit of fun after the fact. I get a tremendous kick out of seeing what other people make of the RS universe, and in turn I hope that the timeline, as appended here, is of some interest to readers – and not least of all me, when I need to write another story. Use the menu at the top of the page, or click on the links below – both will take you to the same content.