This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

25 April, 2012

REVIEW: BLUE REMEMBERED EARTH

Cover art: Dominic Harman
Cover design: Carr Design Studio

BLUE REMEMBERED EARTH
POSEIDON'S CHILDREN BOOK ONE
BY
ALASTAIR REYNOLDS

ISBN: 978-0-575-08827-6
Pages: 502
Publisher: Gollancz
Published: 19 January 2012

On the Cover:

Geoffrey and Sunday Akinya want no part of their family and its wealth. The Akinyas have ridden Africa's economic boom into orbit and beyond. Wherever mankind has gone in the Solar system the Akinyas have profited.

But Geoffrey and Sunday have rejected it all. Geoffrey conducts research into elephant cognition in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, Sunday makes her way as an artist beyond the reach of The Mechanism on the far side of the moon.

But when their grandmother dies she leaves behind a secret that throws Geoffrey and Sunday into a desperate race against their family. A race run beneath the unblinking eye of The Mechanism.

   After a rather slow and earthbound beginning, that is still very interesting, this novel really kicks into gear. Reynolds takes us on a tour of an Earth that is almost alien in its differences from the present day, and we get to see several locations in our solar system through the eyes of the main characters.
   The world of the 22nd Century presented here is very well realised, and it comes to vivid life through the story and the many glimpses we get of it in small asides throughout the novel. Reynolds manages to avoid doing his worldbuilding as infodumping, we either experience how things have changed or we get snippets of information that never feels forced into the story.

   I really enjoyed visiting the future that Reynolds has created, but it also caused the only real problem I had with the novel. This may to a great extent be caused by my own interest in History, but I didn't quite feel that the world of the 22nd century had evolved from our own. At times I had trouble seeing how our present could have turned into this future without a further explanation, and that was never forthcoming.
   However that didn't hamper my enjoyment of the exploratory journey of our solar system. I just felt that this was the little bit lacking in making this a perfect Science Fiction Adventure.

   I don't use the phrase Science Fiction Adventure without cause here. The novel is structured around a search, or a quest if you will, to find something that is hidden. A quest that takes us through most of the colonised solar system, and gives us plenty of suspense.
   Reynolds is very good at giving the reader answers while still keeping the greater mystery hidden. The answers to the big mystery comes slowly, but waiting for them is not in any way boring or annoying. Instead the structure of the novel makes for a suspense-filled journey with a rewarding destination.

   Our companions on this journey are an interesting cast of characters, especially the two main ones; Geoffrey and Sunday. They come off as fully formed human beings that come off as very realistic, Sunday to some degrees annoyingly so for me. These aren't flawless heroes that effortlessly conquer every obstacle in their way, but ordinary people who have been thrown into what is for them a difficult situation.
   The two main characters evolve quite a bit through the novel, but they don't have to carry the book on their own. They are joined by a cast of supporting characters that are sometimes more interesting in their own right than the main ones. Watching the different characters' agendas  evolve as the story progresses is a very interesting experience.

   All in all this is a great Science Fiction story. As I have already said, it is an Adventure story, and if you like the structure of Conspiracy Thrillers, you should try this on.
   As Science Fiction this belongs in the Space Opera "corner" in my opinion. The science here doesn't feel "hard", and it doesn't distract from the action and suspense. But there is neither a feel of the "magical science" that can haunt Space Opera, it feels plausible within the setting it exists in. I think all fans of Science Fiction will find this novel an enjoying read. I know I look forward to the next novel in the Poseidon's Children trilogy.

  

3 comments:

  1. Great review - I'm very much looking forward to reading this, but haven't decided if I want to read it now or wait until book 2 is also available. Have definitely added the series to my list though!

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    1. I'd read it now. Although the greater story doesn't end when Blue Remembered Earth finishes,you get a resolution to this part of the story, more specifically the quest element I mentioned.
      But I understand it if you wait, I like getting the whole story (trilogy/series) in one go if I can.

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    2. I've recently (last ten years or so) become somewhat irrationally afraid to start a new series that isn't completed. I get worried that the author won't finish for some reason. But I think I'll move this one up the list a bit - it just sounds too good! Thanks!

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