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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Threatened by Shadows at Night
On a Steel Breeze is a large scale, hard SF adventure story with two main weaknesses, the beginning and the end. It is a sequel to Blue Remembered Earth, taking place in the following centuries and concerning itself with the next generation of the Akinya family.

Chiku, daughter of Sunday and niece of Geoffrey has cloned herself twice and the three genetic...
Published 14 months ago by P. G. Harris

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Series needed to get better - it didn't!
It's a shame really as the core concepts are rock solid. However, Reynolds continues to run on three cylinders. Despite being a fan and despite being committed to reading all his output, I can't really recommend this. Half-baked...
Published 14 months ago by Gasman


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Threatened by Shadows at Night, 6 Oct 2013
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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On a Steel Breeze is a large scale, hard SF adventure story with two main weaknesses, the beginning and the end. It is a sequel to Blue Remembered Earth, taking place in the following centuries and concerning itself with the next generation of the Akinya family.

Chiku, daughter of Sunday and niece of Geoffrey has cloned herself twice and the three genetic sisters have shared memories. One sets out to chase the family matriarch Eunice who disappeared into deep space at the end of the previous book. One joins a convoy of giant starships, hollowed out of asteroids, making their way to a nearby star, where an alien artefact has been observed. The third stays on Earth, a baseline charged with staying safe.

However, the starships on their way to the planet Crucible are threatened by shadows at night, or more literally by a ghost in the machine which threatens not just the success of the mission, but the future of the entire human race.

On a Steel Breeze is a work which takes its place on an increasingly crowded playing field on which it is difficult to see new ideas being created. This is the arena of the next few centuries where humankind has broadly conquered the solar system, and is now looking towards the next step. It is an SF where Einstein and relativity are given due respect and voyages to the stars require decades. It is a style of future already populated by Kim Stanley Robinson, Stephen Baxter and David Brin.

Within this style of universe, the main theme explored in this book is the interaction between organic and machine intelligence, and whether they can co-exist. Reynolds keeps his powder on the answer to that dry, leaving at least three different scenarios, on Earth, on Mars and on Crucible to be explored in the final part of the trilogy.

Once the story is underway it is an entertaining read. The pace ebbs and flows nicely, with Reynolds at times kicking back and letting events unfold gradually, while at others racheting up the tension in set piece action sequences. It is also fun to see the elephants of Blue Remembered Earth making a reappearance.

And so to the problems. I'm sorry but I just didn't buy the set up of a mission being launched to the stars, including millions of people, reliant on discovering a new physics while underway to be able to slow down at its destination. At the end, the resolution of one of the issues is just far too clean and easy, almost as if Chiku is given a magic spell to put things right.

While one part of the ending is unsatisfying, overall the story is nicely set up for the final volume.

So in summary, I enjoyed this book, but it is a little lacking in the wow factor, it all feels a bit familiar.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Alastair Reynolds in years, 15 Jan 2014
By 
Ian Kaplan (Livermore, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: On the Steel Breeze (Hardcover)
I only really started to like Blue Remembered Earth), the first novel in the Poseidon's Children series, when I read it a second time, before On the Steel Breeze. After reading Blue Remembered Earth a second time I moved the review from three stars to four.

My original objection to Blue Remembered Earth was that not much seemed to happen. On the Steel Breeze has a driving force that is missing from Blue Remembered Earth. I had to tear myself way from the last half of the book when I had other things that I needed to do.

Near the end of Blue Remembered Earth a planet is discovered by a space borne telescope that has the unmistakable signs of a massive alien artifact. The planet is named Crucible and On the Steel Breeze is about travel to that planet by massive starships, hollowed from asteroids and powered by the new physics that is found at the end of Blue Remembered Earth.

Science fiction is the fiction of ideas and Reynolds explores a variety of ideas, including the nature of humanity under pressure. This are also a variety of explorations of technology, but the core of the novel is character driven.

One challenge that Reynolds may have struggled with the the problem of time and distance. There are no light huggers in this book, as there are in the Revelation Space books. The best that humanity can manage is fractions of the speed of light, which incurs a huge cost in time before we arrive at the end of the story. At times the story jumps decades into the future, as awaited events, like the planet fall on Crucible finally arrive. At times this can give the story an awkward feel, since we are not used to thinking in these huge time frames. It would be like the story starting out in the era of James Stewart (Queen Elizabeth I's heir) and ending in modern times. But it is believable that someday there will be longevity treatments that do allow humans to live such long times.

Another place that Reynolds may have struggled is in the ending of the story. On the Steel Breeze is a complex story spanning two solar systems. I thought that the ending was well done. There's no way to neatly tie up such a complex story. I hope that there will be at least one more novel in the series.

Perhaps because Reynolds is a UK writer, he's published in the UK first. This doesn't make much sense in the modern world. I live in California but I was able to read the book six months before it would be released in the US by purchasing the book from an Amazon book dealer. I suppose that book rights are still sold on a country by country basis. The other reviewers who live in the US did the same thing. One of the advantages of paper books over electronic books is that the purchaser has rights that have been taken away in the case of electronic books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Demon in the Aether”, 7 Nov 2013
By 
Mr. Mice Guy (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: On the Steel Breeze (Hardcover)
On The Steel Breeze, Alastair Reynolds, 483pp, 2013.

This novel is a sequel to Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children 1), and takes up the story long after the end of it. This time Chiku Akinya is the Narrator, or rather, several of them, as she has cloned herself (short version) and three of her set off on different paths, one to pursue Eunice Akinya’s spaceship, one to accompany the fleet of colony ships sent off to Crucible, the world containing the Mandala, an object visible from twenty light years away from the solar system, while the third stayed at home. As with many of Alastair Reynolds’ novels, the speed of light is an absolute limit, and the narrative is spread over a long period of time, helped by the split points-of-view, as the three Chikus are able to send memory updates (short version) to each other, so are able to remain in communication with each other. However, it is not quite that simple, as they have stopped talking to each other a long time ago, as they all drifted further apart in space and time. There is a serious problem aboard the first wave of colony ships – some of which are carrying elephants!; which we experience from one point of view; there is a serious problem in the solar system as Arachne, the AI (short version) is starting to get a bit worried about events there involving Akinyas and other characters from the first volume; and the third Chiku appears to be dead after an incident when finally catching up with the Winter Queen…

However, very little is as it seems, for there are massive alien artefacts orbiting Crucible, which have been doctored out of the data reaching Earth by Arachne; the robots who were set ahead of the colony ships to build the infrastructure for the colonists have done something else instead; the colony ships themselves have problems with their engines and can’t slow down; there is also a stowaway on Chiku’s colony ship – Eunice the AI from the first volume; and Arachne the AI has infected every robotic system on Earth, and is prepared to kill anyone who knows of her existence. And the Chiku who went after the Winter Queen may not actually be missing… And there are Uplifted elephants!

Despite being spread over decades, this was a page-turner of a novel as far as I was concerned, and I’m not sure it is all over yet.

SPOILER ZONE
Remember that sealed box on Venus? That struck me as suspicious even before we were told about June Wing’s little enhancements… Is there more to come from here?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Series needed to get better - it didn't!, 25 Oct 2013
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It's a shame really as the core concepts are rock solid. However, Reynolds continues to run on three cylinders. Despite being a fan and despite being committed to reading all his output, I can't really recommend this. Half-baked...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Reynolds has written some of my favorite SF tales of the last couple of decades, 9 Nov 2014
By 
John Haylock (united kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On the Steel Breeze (Hardcover)
first up, Reynolds has written some of my favorite SF tales of the last couple of decades, House of suns and Pushing ice are up there with the best the genre has ever produced, i'm a massive fan........but....personally this sequel and its predecessor Blue remembered Earth have left me wondering if he has lost the plot, the initial novel was slow, and dare i say it, boring, surely this latest instalment would gather momentum and provide some entertainment ?.....how wrong i was, it is a long drawn out tale that fails to engage, the characters are lifeless and contains nothing radical in the way of science....also in my copy there are repeated and damned annoying spelling errors !.......sorry, not impressed
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2.0 out of 5 stars Reynold's weakest book, 13 Oct 2014
By 
Panagiotis Karatasios (Greece) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On the Steel Breeze (Hardcover)
I admit i don't like much these new series from A.Reynolds who is one of my favourite writers. But the first book was rather good and so i bought this one too hoping the series will get better. Unfortunately it doesn't. First of all (and that is a strange thing for Reynolds) the worldbuiding of the series is neither convincing nor well thought and sketched. Beyond that the narrative of this one is rather disjoined and without a clear direction. There are many good ideas in the book but they are not well articulated.Also the characters are not very interesting. What this book and series of books seems to lack is the cosmic high concept which was allways a basic trait of Reynold's books,
It seems to me that Reynolds started rather hastely this series to fulfill his obligation coming from his recent new contract with Gollancz.
I'm not sure i will buy the next book of the series and that says much since until now i was buing his books almost immediatelly after their release! I hope in the future he will come back to form.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable but not vintage Reynolds!, 31 Oct 2013
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Powerful story telling and strong characterisation as you would expect from Alastair Reynolds. He does well to retain a connected narrative across two different time frames and light years of space without invoking faster than light communication. Unfortunately, elsewhere the hard science is less than credible and his resolution of the central dilemma facing his protagonists smacks of "I woke up and it was all a dream!" That said, still a great read and we can all look forward to the loose ends being tied up in part three.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too detailed? Love it !, 26 Oct 2013
Brilliant book about the not too distant future where technology has not given humans godlike powers yet. Limitation in human capabilities make this book more down to earth. It also opens the door for new angles to technologies which are more plausible and realistic, like planetary bombardment by high speed mass as opposed to lasers.

The book tends to dwell on events which are not key to the main theme, but these moments are important to reflect on how people feel and make decisions in the future. When reading a sf book I would like to feel how life will turn out in the future not only to get a logically sound detective / action story.

Another virtue of the book is that it gives answers to most of the questions not leaving many things in the open.

And finally we have extraterrestrials which are several steps ahead of humanity's technological level, as is expected by statistics.

Cannot wait for the 3rd part !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beware., 6 Nov 2014
This review is from: On the Steel Breeze (Paperback)
Beware - this paperback edition does not come in the advertised jacket. If you want to see what you will get, check out the audio download. I don't know if Alastair Reynolds OK'd this new jacket but it really is disappointing. It looks like a lightweight romance from the shelves in Tesco! - worse, it doesn't fit with vol. one of the trilogy.
Why are both Amazon and the publishers continuing to display the Hardback cover?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Alistair Reynolds takes you into a future that you find yourself thinking it could happen., 22 Nov 2014
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This review is from: On the Steel Breeze (Hardcover)
Had to get this after reading the first book . "Blue Remembered Earth" as a gift Do read that one first before On the Steel Breeze.
I could not put either of these books down they had Murder, Mystery, Science Fiction, Family squabbles and some amazing thoughts as to our future both on and off Earth. I liked the politics that are so possibly going to be true one day..
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On the Steel Breeze
On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds (Hardcover - 26 Sep 2013)
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