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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Optimistic tale of humanity's collective potential
Reynolds has always set himself apart from other science fiction authors by widening the scope of the plot to the nth degree, by infusing the setting with richness and depth, and by marbling all of this with awe-inducing science and technology. Akin to Revelation Space and House of Suns, Blue Remembered Earth proves he still has the gift for exhibiting unique ideas,...
Published on 25 Jan. 2012 by 2theD

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very little happening at great length
I need to start with a confession: I did not actually finish this book. I gave up just over halfway through. "I am a grownup", I thought, "I don't have to read things i'm not enjoying". And I wasn't enjoying this.

I like Alastair Reynolds, I really do. I loved the Prefect, loved Revelation Space and nearly all of his other books. But this one is so slow...
Published 21 months ago by Chris Widgery


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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Optimistic tale of humanity's collective potential, 25 Jan. 2012
By 
2theD "2theD" (The Big Mango, Thailand) - See all my reviews
Reynolds has always set himself apart from other science fiction authors by widening the scope of the plot to the nth degree, by infusing the setting with richness and depth, and by marbling all of this with awe-inducing science and technology. Akin to Revelation Space and House of Suns, Blue Remembered Earth proves he still has the gift for exhibiting unique ideas, penning an intriguing story, and capturing the imagination of the reader. It's not his best work, but it's definitely the great beginning to a surely great series.

At the end of the year 2161, after sixty years of solitude orbiting the moon, the empress to a solar system-wide company passes away. Her genetic legacy includes one pair of grandchildren, Geoffrey, who studies elephants on the African plains, and Sunday, who pursues sculpture in the Descrutinized Zone on the moon, away from the patrolling omniscient eye of the Mechanism. Controlling the interests in the family company are their cousins Hector and Lucas, who have a frosty relationship with Geoffry and Sunday. Once into 2162, the cousins bride Geoff into travelling to the moon in order to recover the contents of a safe-deposit box once belonging to their wealthy and reclusive grandmother, Eunice. With agreement not to meet his sister when he's on the moon, Geoff breaks this treaty by visiting her enclave in order to unravel the mystery behind the contents of the box: a antique spacesuit glove which holds yet another mystery... colored gems.

Earth in the year 2162, as stylized by Reynolds, is one of African prosperity born from decline of the unmentioned Western nations and where humanity is recovering from the symptoms of a century of global warming. Pages 148-149 outlines a post-warming earth, where sea levels had risen and were battled with seawalls, where Sahara has extended its arid grip upon the continent, where depopulation has been enforced, where where humanity derives its energy from deep-penetration geothermal tap and solar arrays spanning the globe, efficient transmission accomplished by superconducting cables. Once ill-weather regions of the earth now harvest grapes and produce fine wines, such as Patagonia, Iceland, and Mongolia. In contrast to this great human revival to calamity, there has been an unheard of decline in crime because of the nearly worldwide Mechanism, which uses algorithms to predict human behavior... each person with an augmentation connected to this incorruptible sentinel:

"Murder isn't impossible, even in 2162... Because the Mechanism wasn't infallible, and even this tirelessly engineered god couldn't be in all places at once. The Mandatory Enhancements were supposed to weed out the worst criminal tendencies from developing minds... it was inevitable that someone... would slip through the mesh." (278)

The plot has a feel similar to Chasm City and The Prefect, where a mystery is unraveled step-by-step in order to find the nexus of "what it all means." Jumping from shadows of Kilimanjaro, to the lunar cityscapes, to the underwater expanse of the Panspermian Initiative, to the still inhospitable Martian atmosphere, and beyond... the scope of action on these and other settings is enough to please any space opera fan. Chuck in a few wholesome bits of orbital technology, mind transference technology, and a few spaceships - bam, what more could a hard sci-fi fan long for?

Plot aside, there is a core of characters which is tightly woven, numbering around six. It's easy to keep track of the ongoings, but when you start to toss in some far-flung family lineage, some transient personages, some representatives of human sects, and some semi-sentient corporal golem figures... you may need to keep a list if you're going to take more than three days to read this tome. A tome it may be, but it's not without its peppering of poetic prose:

"It was mid-afternoon and cloudless, the sky preposterously blue and infinite, as if it reached all the way to Andromeda rather than being confined within the indigo cusp he had seen from space." (154-155)

Nor it is without its share of humor, if you know your history of Mars in fiction: one character thinks the Martian city of Robinson is named after the novel Robinson Crusoe. The dialogue is less than airy at times, something Reynolds has been guilty of ever since Revelation Space. At times it's dry and recapitalizing. There's more swearing here than in his other novels, which is fine by my. Again, one more fault I found is a similar in fault to Chasm City: the unraveling is too convenient, the timing too auspicious, the clues too quickly understood, the backpedaling too awkward (i.e. the Phoboes Monolith).

It's not as preciously crafty as The Prefect or as expansive as Redemption Ark (my favorite Revelation Space novel), but Reynold's doesn't disappoint with Blue Remembered Earth- an optimistic tale of humanity's collective potential on the earth we live and on the orbiting bodies we will settle, develop, and prosper upon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very little happening at great length, 9 Oct. 2013
By 
Chris Widgery (London) - See all my reviews
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I need to start with a confession: I did not actually finish this book. I gave up just over halfway through. "I am a grownup", I thought, "I don't have to read things i'm not enjoying". And I wasn't enjoying this.

I like Alastair Reynolds, I really do. I loved the Prefect, loved Revelation Space and nearly all of his other books. But this one is so slow. Nothing happens.

Well, that's not quite true. A bit happens. A man looks at some elephant then goes to the moon and finds a glove and goes back home again to look at the elephants. And that takes about 250 pages.

So, nothing really happens, it takes a long time for it not to happen and you don't care about any of the characters. I am hoping that it's just a bad one from Reynolds, but given that it is ominously billed as the first in a trilogy, I fear he is just frantically padding.

A pity.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Full disappointment, 14 Jun. 2012
By 
Ms B. Fonay "Beatrix Fonay" (N-Ireland) - See all my reviews
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I fully agree with everyone before me who gave it 1 star. I Love Mr Reynolds' books and was soo looking forward to reading this new one. I tortured myself through 450 pages, left the last 20, in absolute disbelief that nothing is happening in it. I liked the previous book Terminal world, but already felt that it could have been even better, felt a bit of a rushjob at times. But this one? I admit I put it in a charity shop... No story, flat characters, I couldn't find anything in it to hold my attention, and trust me I was looking for it with magnifiers. Mr Reynolds, I WANT to love your books. But for now, you owe me £14 and many hours I wasted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a bit of a disappointment, 7 Jan. 2013
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Having read all of Alastair Reynold's other SF and been very impressed by it I was looking forward to his latest. I had been warned that it wasn't quite up to Chasm City standards and that is certainly true. It is so obviously the start of an (interminable?) series and the style of writing is much simpler than his other work (aimed at a younger readership?). There is a lot of description and explanation that seems more "telling" than "showing" and there is little tension in the plot until a long way in.

Nevertheless there are some imaginative features and well-thought-through technology. I just hope that he doesn't devote all his time to this series and gets back to writing stuff in his previous, edgier, style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Peaceful nearish future thriller (3.5), 13 Jun. 2013
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The notion of a near (ish)-future near-utopia is very rare these days; most sci-fi is unwilling or unable (understandably, perhaps) to see a way beyond the darkness -environmental, social, political - of the current times, and it takes a certain courage to speculate about a time as close as 150 years away where humanity lives in, apparently, relative comfort & security. Having posited that relative comfort and security, a writer then faces the problem of producing a viable plot when there is little room for direct antagonisms. In this leisurely Sci-Fi thriller, Reynolds does a good job of providing both.

Ostensibly, it's a treasure hunt; a brother and sister, black sheep of immensely wealthy, family owned space company, follow a trail left by their immensely powerful grandmother, one which leads them to colonies on the Moon, on Mars, and back to Earth. What antagonism there is is supplied by a (slightly overdone) familial rivalry and a mildly fanatical trans-humanist cult; there are 2 deaths, barely more than accidents, and an almost complete absence of violence - the whole human space protected from criminality by neural implants & genetic testing that Reynolds is careful to avoid presenting as dystopian or overtly policed & could best be described as proto-Culture (in the Banks sense) social engineering.

There are moments where the grandmother's rather torturous breadcrumb route stretches plausibility. The Mars episode, without wanting to give away too much, is reliant on a heavily flagged plot device that is certainly ex machina, if not exactly a god. What she actually found, too, and why (and how) she managed to hide it again stretches credulity, although spoilers forbid saying much more than that. Nevertheless, there's enough to keep the plot moving and give Reynolds room to show us his new worlds.

It's this, the scenery, so to speak, that makes the book compelling, as much as the leisurely relatively conflict free piecing together of the puzzle itself. There's a certain amount of technological handwaving, and we only have an extremely privileged view of the world - the family itself is (we are told, repeatedly) massively rich - but what we do see is not totally implausible. There has been a century of re-adjustment to the realities of climate change, but out of it has grown a certain unity, and new ways of living. These ways of life and their supporting technologies seemed to me to be coherent and touched with a quiet optimism absent from most contemporary Sci-Fi. The broader themes - how humanity might adjust to global warming, how we might approach near-space colonisation, how genetic & neural profiling might alter society - are reflected in the details of this relatively cheerful future.

The final reveal itself, however, suggests that this new found maturity will be tested, and I look forward to seeing if Reynolds can keep the balance between the mildness of the setting and the stresses implied by the discoveries that close the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Seriously Boring, 3 Jun. 2013
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Reynolds is one of my favorite authors and I have no problem with the change of path he's taken with this book, an investigation set in an optimistic near-future sounded great to me.

Having said that the book itself is deeply flawed. The first half is a bit of a write off, the story is extremely slow and dull. The main characters are even duller, to give you some context one of the main protagonists is an elephant academic and the other is an artist (who creates AI's in her spare time, huh). Good careers but it makes them rather odd central characters for a space adventure. Unfortunately as well as being pretty boring they are both naive, petty, irritating, and pretty spoilt.

The second half of the book speeds up a bit and it does get a bit more interesting but its all relative, and it is hampered by the fact that you (and the main characters) really have no idea what is going on. It isn't till the very end, when everything is explained to the bamboozled protagonists, that you finally see what the point of the whole book is. Even that is a big letdown.

There are a few interesting side stories but they don't really go anywhere and in all honesty they could have been cut. Mind you if you did start cutting away the weaker sections of this book I'm worried you'd just be left with a short story.

So really I can't recommend this book, its a bit of a mess and definitely not up to Reynolds previous standards. Mind you Terminal World was a complete turkey as well so maybe this is his new standard, if so it seems a real pity. Anyway this looks like its the start of a new series so I might give the second one a go in the hope this book was just an aberration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bring back the Ultras!, 18 May 2014
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This review is from: Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children 1) (Paperback)
Alastair Reynolds began his career writing a completely unique kind of gothic space opera with religious overtones, and he has spent the second half of his career trying to produce something even half as good.
This is not even half as good. It's competent enough, but it completely lacks the sense of queasy wonder of his first novels, and is a relatively conventional tale of an industrial dynasty in the 22nd century, with its hatreds, jealousies and mysteries. For the most part the characters are not especially interesting or engaging, and the mystery, such as it is, is not very profound.
The fact that the story is set in Africa should give it an added dimension, but it doesn't - there's little or nothing specifically African about the characters, except a few references to Swahili. It's striking, perhaps, that Reynolds admits that he has never visited the continent. With the money he's made, surely he could afford a short safari in Kenya to see what an African sunset actually looks like?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A respectable opening chapter to a saga., 4 Oct. 2013
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I really like Alastair Reynolds' work.
His main difficulty is that "Revelation Space" was such a Tour de Force that everything else that he does is judged by that exceptional standard.
Blue Remembered Earth is a fairly long story, but much of it is scene setting and padding. Even the quite novel "evolvarium" episode is a deviation from the main plot line.
Hopefully, BRE is the entrance fee to a whole new Reynoldsian universe where, this book having set the socio-technological paradigms, something interesting happens.
The basic plot-line is of a young zoologist who is dragged into a mystery of his rather strange grandmother's making. Granny had an important secret that she found in outer space; the "quest" is a character building exercise to prepare her descendants for the impact of the discovery.
The "Earth" in BRE is a very different place to the one we inhabit now, but is a logical derivative of it. Oh, how I hope it doesn't happen!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start, great finish, tee'd up nicely for Part 2, 23 Sept. 2013
By 
A. J. Sudworth "tonysudworth" (UK) - See all my reviews
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Four stars was only because of the high standard set in his books - House of Suns or Pushing Ice - but this one started quite slowly and then ended up in a frantic rush to decode the riddle / chain set by a free booting Aunt Eunice. It does really set you up for the next one in the Series and that seems to have all the elements of 'big space' sci - fi - generation ships etc
The story here is a detective one covering the Moon, Mars Mercury and mining operations around Neptune - but what makes it work is that the technology described could so nearly be there. Including walls to protect against sea level rise
The brother and sister Geoffrey (first one for a hero called Geoffrey..) and Sunday are pushed into trying to work out what their aunt wanted to show them (or a member of their kin) and its nicely done as to why there is subterfuge - don;t want to say too much to spoil it
Another good story - really enjoyed it .. Steel Breeze out this week on Kindle .. good timing eh?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Blue remembered zzzzzzzzzzzzz, 29 Oct. 2013
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I keep going back to AR in the hope he might write something as good as Chasm City again but find myself very very disappointed every time. That must have been a fluke. Shame really.
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Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children 1)
Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children 1) by Alastair Reynolds (Paperback - 8 Nov. 2012)
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