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34 of 36 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 M-I-K-E 2theD

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly what it says on the tin
Well, I've never been lied to by the back of a book before. I say this because, apart from serving as a rather needless Chekhov's gun, the potentially menacing 'Mechanism' referred to in the description plays absolutely no role in the story. I hope this doesn't count as a spoiler, as knowing this gives nothing away about the actual plot of the book. However, any reader...
Published 16 months ago by David G


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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Optimistic tale of humanity's collective potential, 25 Jan 2012
By 
M-I-K-E 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
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly what it says on the tin, 13 Mar 2013
Well, I've never been lied to by the back of a book before. I say this because, apart from serving as a rather needless Chekhov's gun, the potentially menacing 'Mechanism' referred to in the description plays absolutely no role in the story. I hope this doesn't count as a spoiler, as knowing this gives nothing away about the actual plot of the book. However, any reader expecting a tale set in a grim superficial utopia where humanity's freedom of action has been handed over to some sort of technological Lethiathan will be disappointed to find this isn't the case. Blue Remembered Earth does have a good story but it is, shall we say, not as advertised.

The above however points to a wider problem I had with Blue Remembered Earth; there are a lot of concepts and characters introduced, but none of them really develop into anything. Most space sagas these days try to weave multiple narrative strands together, with different characters and power blocks helping or hindering the protagonists, but here these elements feel very superficial. There's no sense of 'what's really going on', of a grand conspiracy or cover-up or why any of the factions involved are behaving as they are, other than to move the plot forward that is. As the reader, I never really felt as if the veil was being slowly lifted as the story went from one set-piece to the next. Fundamentally there's no sense of a story coming together. This lack of gradual revelation is highlighted by the fact 'the truth' is entirely revealed in a lengthy exposition chapter near the end of the book, and said truth comes as much of a surprise to the protagonists as it was me. The novel feels like it should have been either a much sorter story following Geoffrey and Sunday as they just solve a set of clues in a science fiction setting, or developed into a much larger multi-book epic with more detailed and intricate interactions between the competing factions and the previously mentioned all-powerful 'Mechanism'.

Blue Remembered Earth is well worth reading (or at least borrowing from a friend) if you're a fan of Alastair Reynolds, but it's hardly him at his best.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars read it, 29 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children 1) (Kindle Edition)
I know my rating is not brilliant (it deserves 3.5 stars), the book was a good read, not fantastic or unforgetable but a good solid read. I look forward to the next book and I will buy it in the hope the story picks up and gets better.
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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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This review is from: Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children 1) (Kindle Edition)
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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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Now we can travel a bit faster, 21 July 2012
By 
I wonder what the point of reviews is. I like writing them. I know that. Do people read them in order to decide whether to read a book or not? Surely not, otherwise, they may spoil the experience, by coming across spoilers and evaluations. I think if we write a positive review, it is an attempt to express and write down, to record, the pleasure we felt in reading that book. We're grateful and wish for that experience not to be forgotten. If we write a negative review, we feel a bit angry and disappointed. Angry because reading a whole book is not a small commitment, and disappointed because we didn't reach that climax of satisfaction that we always hope to re-experience.

So this is my first negative review. I admit to feeling angry and disappointed, so this is how I shall structure the review.

Disappointed

For some time, Alastair Reynolds has been my favourite author. I've read almost all of his books, and correspondingly loved almost all of them. The first book I read of his was Redemption Arc, and it was to reading what strawpedos are to drinking. It went straight in, no resistance. Every sentence a pleasure, every character interesting, every plot turn a view to behold with delta v enough to provide a thrill. Such was my enjoyment, I didn't waste time, and immediately awarded Alastair favourite author, and went on to read all remaining books.

Some time passed, some excellent books were published, and then came the first of his books that I could not finish. Terminal World. This is not a review of that book, so I wont comment on it, other than to say that not finishing a book is a hard choice to make. An ultimate failing of endurance, an admission that one does not have the imaginative capacity to enjoy a piece of literature, and so something I do not do lightly.

Blue Remembered Earth looked like it was time to put Terminal World behind me. It had a colourful front cover, elephants, and an exciting synopsis on the back. There was still anxiety though, similar to that which comes from your favourite band releasing a new album. Is it going to be as good? Or is this one going to be the cause of the band breaking up.

It started off good. An interesting setting, a strange experience with a tank, a dead elephant, but then, the slow realisation that you're in the automotive equivalent of a Sunday afternoon drive, and the driver in front is wearing a hat and gloves and you're consigned to 30mph and no overtaking lane for 500 miles.

Angry

Well first off, I'm not really angry. Reading a book is a privilege. I am not entitled to enjoy a book, it is a gift. An author cannot please everyone. Enjoyment and entertainment are subjective matters, and while a book is found boring by one, it is found enthralling by others.

However, I really didn't enjoy this one, and must get it off my chest.

How do you define what you did and didn't like about a book? I found myself asking this question while reading this book. Why don't I like it? What is it about this book that is different to the other book that I loved? I don't think I know for sure, but I can try my best to describe what it may be.

I didn't like the characters at all. I found them boring, dull, grey, uninteresting, and then on top of the lack of interest, the qualities that did come through were petulance, lack of ambition, pettiness. A few dark and dreary splodges on a grey canvas.

I didn't like the story. Well, maybe this is where a little bit of the anger came in. It didn't seem to link together too well. First off you have an incident with a tank, that housed an AI, then you have a funeral of a far off grandmother, then you have a mountain firing off some package unexpectedly, then you have an irritating simulation of a person akin to something out of the Caprica TV series or the first non Isaac Asimov Foundation sequel, then ensues a wild goose chase, that takes you from the Moon, to Mars. I could go on. There are loads of these episodes. None of which enjoyable in themselves, all leading to some kind of climax. All the time you are looking back, wondering, are those elephants going to have some involvement in the climax? How is that mountain going to fit in at the epiphany?

Then, you get to the end of the wild goose chase, or near to the end, you find this piece of treasure you're looking for, and what does it contain? A note! Well, all the best wild goose chases end with a note don't they? It means the story is not over, the hunt can go on. What does the note say? "Go to that space station, that one of the other characters is already going to." I want to go to that box of treasure and put a note back in it saying "Thanks. Actually, that other character in the book is already on his way, but thanks for the hint anyway."

Then there is a bit more journeying, a death of someone you don't care about, and then the revelation. What is it? What have I persisted through this dreadful novel to learn? Two things. One, we can travel a bit faster than we used to. Fantastic. What else? Oh yes. Although there was no mention of it throughout the whole book, we've found a kind of rosetta stone, that gives us loads of secrets of physics. Free of charge. Fabulous.

What about the whale woman?
What about the AIs?
What about the Mountain?
What about that guy that died with the elephants? Did he really die?
What about that other guy that lived in the Evolvarium?
Did Eunice really die?
Wasn't there some planet spotted somewhere in the book that had something on it (A bit like in Queen of Angels)? Or was I dreaming that?
What about the Mechanism?
What about all the stuff written on the synopsis?

it's like the ending of the book was totally disconnected with the rest of the book.

So that's it really. That's the meat of it. But also, the detail. The painful detail. Every mundane act was provided with the most elaborative description. The scene that really did it for me was when one of the protagonists was getting into a spaceship. He had to go in, along the corridor, and find his cousin - who was a bad guy. This scene was written out in the most elaborate detail. Was the detail an attempt to allow tension to build? Were we supposed to feel some kind of anxiety about what would be waiting in this spaceship? The whole book seemed to be drawn out by this expansive unnecessary detail, as if a 100 page book had to be expanded to a 500 page book, by some serious padding.

So yes, a long drawn out book, uninteresting characters and an underwhelming climax that was detached from the content of the book.

I will probably have a go at the next one, but this time, I'll certainly not hang around if it doesn't get going pretty quickly.
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7 of 8 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
(REAL NAME)   
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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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Average pulp fiction, 2 Feb 2012
By 
Mr. G. Curtis (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I always have great hopes when I see a new Alastair Reynolds books coming. To make the review short, recently I have been disappointed. The tendency has become to use a whole book to set up a series, this is not really a stand alone book and as such the length of it is disproportionate to the story it puts across. Also disappointingly it is very simlplistic compared to his earlier works the extent of which is shown in that I guessed most of the plot by 25% in - infuriating to read a book just to "see if you're correct". The book lends itself well to screen play (as does Terminal World) and I am beginning to get suspicions that this is the new aim of the author - not writing for sci-fi readers, but writing for possible future revenue from films. Having been quite negative about it bear in mind that I haven't given any other author recently more that one star reviews, Michael Cobley and Gary Gibson can't even match this low standard. It's worth a read as there is little else out there, but buy secondhand and pay no more than a fiver. I shall buy the rest when they come out in the hope that we return to the quality of the writer's works in the revelation space universe.

**I have just read someone else's comment about the ten book deal....explains the last two books perfectly. Author has sold out, understandably given the money on offer, but hopefully publishers will realise that the pressure means low quality fare and therefore worse sales than expected - I rescind my comment about buying the rest when they come out. My money will be going to other authors who write for the readers. Bye Bye AR - sorry to see you go. Shall return to my good old Many Coloured Land series (Julian May 1980) and Revelation Space re-reads in the meantime.**
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please publishers don't rip me off, 10 Mar 2012
I'm a huge fan of Mr. Reynolds and have read all previous published work. The statement I wish to make here is that as a Kindle user I feel that I'm being ripped off by the publisher. 10 for hardback is fair, 6.50 for paperback is fair, 9.99 for an electronic file is preposterous. I'm sorry but you may as well sneak up behind me, cudgel me to the floor and steal my wallet. Where on earth (or elsewhere given this is sci-fi) did they come up with this pricing structure. I can't make my mind up whether this is simple idiocy of plain exploitation. As much as I love your work Alastair, I cannot bring myself to the point where in all good grace I walk happily into the jaws of a blatant con. Sorry.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Revelation Space here, 24 Jan 2012
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I've read nearly all of Alastair Reynolds books.

If you're new to Alastair Reynolds this is a very consumable sci-fi title which you could easily read in 2/3 days. I would categorise it as a mystery/thriller set in the near future within our solar system and as such I found it hard to put down. It doesn't stress current thinking about space travel/technology too far, so could also be seem as another "hard science fiction" title.

However, if you are a regular Alastair Reynolds reader, this title definately lacks the sheer majesty (copyright Brian Cox) of titles like "House of Suns" and "Pushing Ice", there is nothing to really stretch your mind. If you like this side of Alastair Reynolds perhaps wait for the paperback or a special offer. At the end, the story hints of much bigger things to come and I look forward to a much bigger canvas in the next two titles of this trilogy.

Again, as a regular Alastair Reynolds reader I found some concepts and characters similar to earlier titles;

The virtual Eunice Akinya seems to be modelled on Mademoiselle from Revelation Space

Parts of an undergound moon city are described like Chasm City (post plague)

And so on.

Overall, a very good sci-fi starter book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for the next book..., 30 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children 1) (Kindle Edition)
Great foundation for a classic space opera. Refreshing to see a future that isn't a dystopian hell hole for once!
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