37 of 39 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
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Full disappointment
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...
Published on 14 Jun. 2012 by Ms B. Fonay
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars read it,
This review is from: Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children Book 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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a bit of a disappointment,
This review is from: Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children Book 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.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Revelation Space here,
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.
37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please publishers don't rip me off,
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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid SF novel,
Tanzania, 2161. The matriarch of the Akinya family, Eunice, a famous pioneer of space travel and exploration, has died at the age of 130. The family convenes for the funeral, but grandson Geoffrey would prefer to be carrying on his research into elephant cognition. When an anomaly is discovered amongst Eunice's possessions, Geoffrey is asked to investigate, the beginning of a journey that will take him from Earth to the Moon to Mars...and further still.
Alastair Reynolds's new novel is the first in a new sequence, Poseidon's Children, which will span 11,000 years of human history. As such, the three books in the sequence will presumably be stand-alones, divided by immense gulfs in history, but with added context given to the reader by reading all three in order. Reynolds and his publisher have backed away from the 'trilogy' moniker (and the 'Book One of Poseidon's Children' tagline present on some early drafts of the cover has been removed) to de-emphasise the idea this is a serialised story that people will have to wait years to be concluded.
Reynolds is noted for having a somewhat grim vision of the future in his previous books, so Blue Remembered Earth is notable for its more optimistic tone. The human race has become richer and more technologically advanced than ever before, with Africa now driving the world economy and formerly war-torn, poverty-stricken states are now prosperous and driven. The price of this new era of peace and development is the Surveilled World, a state of near-total coverage of the planet by AIs which intervene if any crimes are detected. As a result almost no crimes or murders have been committed in decades (although Reynolds, a noted fan of crime thrillers, can't help dropping one puzzling and apparently impossible murder in as a subplot). This near-total surveillance state is not so prevalent on other planets and moons, however, due to time-lag issues.
The book is essentially a treasure hunt, with Geoffrey and his sister Sunday following the trail of clues left behind by their grandmother which ultimately leads to the Big Reveal. The trail, and the resulting plot, are somewhat convoluted and, it has to be said, unconvincing. Nevertheless, the story is entertaining with a constant stream of inventive ideas: an area on Mars controlled by rogue machines; an AI simulacrum of Eunice who provides advice and becomes more and more like the real Eunice as they uncover more information; attempts to help improve the quality of life for zoo elephants by merging them holographically with a real herd in the African wilderness; and a system-wide telescope being used to scan for signs of life on other worlds. The characters, particularly Geoffrey and Sunday (our main POV characters) are well-developed as we learn their respective reasons for turning against the family's strict business-oriented hierarchy, but even their antagonistic siblings (who initially appear to be villainous) are fleshed-out satisfyingly by the end of the book.
As the most low-tech of Reynolds's books to date, Blue Remembered Earth is perhaps his most conservative in terms of ideas and scale and scope. This isn't a bad thing and he seems to enjoy working under greater technological constraints than previously, but occasionally he seems to chafe against the restrictions (the robots on Mars and the large-scale mining of the Oort Cloud both seem somewhat more advanced than the tech elsewhere). He also doesn't fully explore the freedom implications of having a state of total surveillance, other than in a cursory surface manner.
Still, Blue Remembered Earth (****) is highly readable, brimming with ideas and refreshingly optimistic. Recommended. The novel is available now in the UK and on 5 June 2012 in the USA.
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard SF with better background scenery than foreground plot,
Brother and sister Geoffrey and Sunday are members of the Akinya family which has its origins in an economically powerful Africa but which now runs a solar system wide industrial complex.
Both Geoffrey and Sunday have opted out of the family business, Geoffrey to become a naturalist studying elephants, Sunday an artist living and working in an alternative society on the moon.
They are brought back to the family by the death of their grandmother Eunice who did much to forge the Akinya empire. At the behest of his more business minded cousins, Hector and Lucas, Geoffrey sets out to follow a trail laid down his grandmother. It is a journey which, for him and Sunday, takes in the Moon, Mars, a submarine society on earth, a space station in lunar orbit, and eventually the outer reaches of the solar system.
Much of Reynolds' past work has been riddled with a sense of disease and decay, particularly with the melding plague in the Revelation Space novels. This book feels much more optimistic, it is about beginnings and broadening horizons. In tone it feels close to Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars novels, or recent 2312. Humankind has conquered the solar system and is now living in an enlightened liberal capitalist society. There are some pleasingly British quirks in this society, not the least of which is cricket being a major spectator sport on the moon.
Blue Remembered Earth is one of those medium term future SF novels in which the technology is still very recognisable, and the laws of physics, while very definitely played with here, are still very much allowed to govern the universe. A fine example of extrapolation from the contemporary world is in Reynolds' description of transport. Spaceports are recognisably today's airports and one excellent section describing a spacecraft setting out for Mars is basically a description of an ocean liner leaving port. The book also sits firmly within the history of SF, with, for example, a very strong nod in the direction of Philip K Dick in the prologue, and use throughout of Arthur C Clarke's space elevators.
While this is a more optimistic work than much of Reynolds writing, there are some very recognisable themes from his other works. Humanity becoming factionalised, here between the United Surface Nations, and the United Aquatic Nations, or between those happy to live in a controlled benevolent society, and those wanting more freedom, independence and danger. Also, in one memorable section on Mars, a vast mobile mechanised city is highly reminiscent of the author's previous work.
So, this is a book which presents a beautifully realised, highly credible future universe, and it is a book I thoroughly enjoyed. The one significant problem I had with it is that the plot is much thinner than the world(s) in which it is set. While everything comes together nicely at the end, I couldn't help thinking that Reynolds, like Iain M Banks in the Hydrogen Sonata, included some elements simply because they were entertaining ideas, rather than because of their contribution to the plot.
That said, this is a good, solid, very readable hard SF story, and as such definitely recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars Promising start to a new series,
Two centuries hence, things have settled down. The Earth's ecosystem has been repaired. Solar power comes in abundance from an equatorial 'sunbelt'. Space is now the 'New Frontier'. The Moon is settled, as is Mars, but more sparsely, and the tide of exploration has reached Jupiter and Mercury. People have dual communication and tracking devices implanted, and can use them to be telepresent elsewhere. But this is not a 1984-type scenario as, for example,there are 'zones' outside the controlled networks. Having avoided extinction or general collapse, the stars though still look unreachable. This is the first novel in a new series, Poseidon's Children, and apparently will tackle this 'next step' for humanity.
There are two main characters. Geoffrey is a zoologist who studies elephants living near Mount Kilimanjaro, and he is interested in their communication patterns. His sister Sunday lives in a "Descrutinized Zone" on the Moon. She is an artist and her partner is a robotics researcher. The death of Eunice Akinya, their grandmother, sparks the novel, as Eunice was instrumental in crucial events like an expedition to Mercury and was main driver in building up a massive space exploration company, still run by Akinyas.
Geoffrey receives a rather unusual bequest in her will which sets up the main story arc. We meet other members of the family as the chain of clues unwinds, some of whom are more interested in business than exploration and, one who is completely unexpected.
After his previous novel, Terminal World, which seemed unfortunately to be a rag-bag of recycled SF cliches stuck together, this novel is a very welcome return to form. However, it is not faultless. Geoffrey does all sorts of illegal, dangerous things,(albeit for good reasons and because somebody has to drive the plot) but is never arrested. When visiting Sunday on the Moon, he meets two other biologists, Chama and his husband Gleb, who believe in 'Panspermianism', the duty to spread life. There also some hints of illegal levels of machine intelligence on Mars. But there appears to be no big clash of paths forward as between physical or biological augmentation as in Schismatrix or between individual or communal rights as in The quiet war. Finally, the general background also feels too sketchy: we see nothing much apart from the Akinyas in Kenya, and bits of the Moon and Mars. And why do people in the future swear like we do now?
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid first instalment - almost a Revelation.,
Being a great fan of Alastair Reynolds I was both excited by, and nervous of, his latest series, most of my trepidation being due to concerns that he may have sold-out and start churning out pot-boilers courtesy of a big book deal and a whopping advance. Thankfully, I was wrong. While the story may be a little slow to get going, Reynolds introduces his characters with care & attention to detail so that when the planet hopping treasure-hunt style adventure gets underway the reader is fully immersed in the characters and their near-future environment. What Reynolds really excels at is thinking of really cool stuff, integrating it into his imagined universe and then given them really cool names; the aug, the Mechanism, the Evolvarium (really liked that idea), artilects, the Ocular... the list of original and plausible ideas just goes on.
The plot centres around the events following the funeral of the matriarchal space pioneer of the powerful & rich Akinya dynasty and the series of clues to location on the moon, Phobos and Mars which lead in turn to a revelation on the edge of our solar system which could either presage a new dawn in the human space diaspora or, if misused, their potential destruction. Along the way there are intra family feuds, proof of extra galactic intelligent life, a typically Reynolds-esque extension of the panspermia hypothesis and much more all incorporated into a mature, carefully paced & magnificently written novel.
As you can probably tell, I really liked it. It was perhaps a little slow at the start with all of the elephant messing about but it was never dull; just lots of Reynolds' masterly wordcraft and imagination. A cracking start to an exhilarating new series from a master of the space opera genre.
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow burner, solid read,
Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
In Short: Slow burner, solid read
OK, so I've had this book since February, but I've only just finished it. Why? Well it is a slow burner and it took a little while to grab me. This is the first full length Alastair Reynolds book that I have read.
There is no two ways about it, this book is a slow burner. It is a testament to Alastair's reputation that his publisher let him produce a book that takes nearly half of the five hundred odd pages "to get going". Taken as a single entity that's an awful lot of slow time. Taken as the first in a trilogy, then it is all setting the scene for what is to follow. Which in my opinion is a far better way to do it long term, than info dumps to get the story going.
The story: Africa is the new super power. The Akinya family are the largest and most powerful of them all. Using Akinya spaceships and technology mankind has colonised many planets in our solar system. The head of the Akinya family is an eccentric woman, Eunice.
After spending sixty years in Earth's orbit managing the business from her Winter Palace space ship, Eunice Akinya dies. She leaves behind a few loose ends which need tying up. The black sheep of the family Geoffrey Akinya is roped/bribed into a trip to the moon to collect one of these loose ends, only to find himself in what essentially mounts to a quest. A quest, which involves his sister, Summer, and a trip for her to Mars.
Overall it is a good solid read. About half-way it gets to the point that you wont want to put it down and you could end up staying up to three thirty in the morning to finish it as I did! I look forward to the next books in the series.
Most heartily recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars Back on Track,
After the slight disappointment that was Terminal World, Reynolds proves that he still knows how to deliver top-quality science fiction.
While writing Blue Remembered Earth, Reynolds mentioned that he wanted to aim for a more optimistic future than anything he'd written to date. BRE certainly fits that description, although aspects of the dark and twisted settings of his previous works can still be found here and there, in fact one of the major themes of this novel is the contrast between the semi-Utopian Earth and the less restrained but more dangerous colonies. It's also generally a lot "harder" SF than anything he's done so far, with much more rigorous scientific constraints than before- although again, this doesn't stop Reynolds from coming up with unique and interesting speculation about the future, something few authors do as well as he does.
The plot for this novel is something of a "treasure hunt", kicked off by the death of Eunice Akinya, matriach of the Akinya household. Various factions within the Akinya house, and others, want to get at various secret Eunice has left behind. Geoffry, the protagonist, wants nothing to do with the family squabbles, but finds himself drawn into it early on, as does his sister Sunday, again an ostracised Akinya caught up in family politics. Once the plot starts going, it keeps the reader engaged the whole way through, and unlike some of Reynolds' previous work it doesn't drag in the middle. It then builds up to a satisfying conclusion that leaves plenty of scope open for future work. The characterisation is also improved and most of the characters are quite believable, with the exception of the two antagonists.
If I had to identify anything wrong with this novel, I'd say that some aspects feel a little, well, forced. For instance, a recurring element of the novel is "the Mechanism", a vaguely-described surveillance system which seems to cover the entire developed world and supposedly makes any sort of crime impossible. As well as feeling slightly implausible, it obviously serves to hinder the plot, which often chafes at the restrictions the mechanism puts in place (the mechanism itself also appears to vary in effectiveness as the plot demands, and how it works is never really explained). Reynolds did mention in an interview that he was deliberately trying to eschew any dependence on crime or war to the plot, which does unfortunately constrain his options somewhat.
That said, a very good novel, and back to the hard-sf speculative fiction that Reynolds still leads the field in.
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Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children Book 1) by Alastair Reynolds