I would have to strongly disagree with the previous reviewer. I have read all published Al Reynolds that you can hold of easily Stateside, except for Terminal World, which is coming up on my reading list soon. I can say with certainty that the last few Reynolds books have fallen downhill, especially since Century Rain. This definitely cannot compare to his Revelation Space series, and I would highly recommend his best works as House of Suns, Redemption Ark and Chasm City. But unless you're a die-hard fan who has to read EVERYTHING he writes, I would suggest you skip is one.
I honestly am not quite sure why this book was written. There is nothing especially new here, unless you count the fact that the protagonist is African. Unless that's what you've been waiting to read for years, this book is just plain boring. I'm sorry, but I have been reading sci if long enough that descriptions of society on Mars, Phobos and the Moon, no matter how imaginative, just don't keep me riveted in and of themselves. For me, it's all about characters and plot.
Now, certainly the characters feel real to me. Kudos to Reynolds for creating a mostly black African dramatis personae, and seeing as he is both very white and very British, I think he did a great job making them realistic (as far as I can tell, anyway). However, that said, the characters don't really DO much of anything. The main character, as we well know from the description, just wants to keep studying elephants (and map his own brain patterns with that of elephants for some reason). Unfortunately that does NOT make an interesting story! I couldn't care less about imagining what a human looks like through an elephant's eyes. A character needs to DO something in order for us to have a story, and they should not just be reacting to outside forces all the time.
Then you have a society which is essentially utopic, where crime is virtually nonexistent and you cannot even throw a punch at someone without machines in your head intervening and your getting arrested. So needless to say there isn't a lot of action.
Another disappointing and completely unneeded element were the anti-Christian elements in this book. I don't know if Reynolds is atheist, agnostic, or anything else. But I don't read scifi to get bashed over the head with evolutionary theory and depressing philosophical arguments on the ultimate uselessness of all things. When one of the main characters laughs thinking that "she realized she was just a really smart monkey... A smart monkey who was flying to another planet in a spaceship" I just wanted to gag. Not very tactful, Al. He keeps mentioning this "smart monkey" concept too. For me, if that's all we are, then what is the point of exploring space, expanding to the stars, and preserving the human race? Such a future certainly wouldn't seem uplifting or positive at all, if everything is utterly useless and meaningless...
Anyway, the plot is kind of a treasure hunt from place to place, with a lot of description of different societies that live in the different places we visit. Most of this is just filler material. I didn't find it that interesting. I actually listened to this book at 3x speed using the Audible app just to get through it faster.
Also, if you care about such things, let me say that this book could have been rated a comfortable "PG" for all scifi fans, except for the repeated uses of the F-word. There is almost no swearing in this book besides the F-Word, which is used frequently by just about everyone, often in strange places where you would normally expect a different kind of curse word, but you get the F-word instead. Bon appetit.
The ending of the book certainly makes it feel like a standalone, which I hope is the case. It feels pretty anticlimactic when compared to Reynolds' other works.
Finally a note about the narrator. His voice matches the main characters well. He is clearly of African descent and has a pleasant British accent. However, this almost feels like it could be the first book he ever narrated. He doesn't seem able to do any accents other than that one. The books should have had multiple narrators, because the characters end up sounding very similar and hard to differentiate. Because of this I imagined every single character being African. His American accent was painfully off, and he performed one character, who is some kind of a whale, so deep and slowly that it is extremely difficult to understand what he is saying. The narration definitely detracts from the story. I really miss John Lee.
For someone who has been a big Reynolds fan in the past, I am sorely disappointed in this latest offering and if it does turn out to be a trilogy I probably will not be reading the rest of this series, which I guess means I won't be reading any new Reynolds for a long time.
Good story, the simplistic " Ethnic Type Music" is distracting and annoying. could have done better without it.
Satisfied Audible listener since 2002. I mostly listen to Sci-fi and anything by Stephen King.
While some of the plot seemed contrived and pointless (I won't give any spoilers here) the book is jam packed with original ideas and interesting people. As is usual with Reynolds he has created a fascinating and believable world. In some ways the book ends just when it's going to get interesting, I hope the author is working on a sequal, I really want to know what happens next!!!! Narration was excellent, I had not heard this performer before but will look for more stuff by him. Easy 5stars, loves it.
This is an unusual book. I've never read or listened to anything quite like it. Alastair Reynolds has to be my favorite writer Sci-fi still in the business. I loved his earlier works like Chasm City and Pushing Ice. This is entirely different, but still eventually in the Reynolds style. But with this book I had to keep at it. Honestly, I was about to give up a few hours into it. If it hadn't have been Reynolds I would have. I would have missed out. Once this book finally gets going it is a good one! I don't know that it's great, and I still prefer his earlier, Revelation Space series, but this book rewards nicely for sticking around.
Great read and masterful audio performance. Pretty well balanced with enough action along the way.
Definitely looking forward to any sequels.
I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.
A great piece of Hard SF that keeps 'inside the lines' of the usual Space Opera tech tropes: no FTL or post-scarcity, transhuman society here, just perfectly plausible science your high school Physics teacher would approve. The magic comes in the human element of a family unraveling a long-held secret from the recently deceased family matriarch. Nowhere are our allies closer or enemies as ruthless as in our own families, and Reynolds' protagonists find themselves squaring off with their own cousins as rivals for her legacy. Everyone's motivations are perfectly justified, and the reasonableness of it all perhaps contributes to the underwhelming notion of stakes in the story's conflicts. "Blue Remembered Earth" reminded me in many ways of Kim Stanley Robinson's "2312" more than Reynold's other work; the entire scope of the setting is within the solar system, where human settlements are pioneering along. The time scales are measured in decades and single lifetimes, and not the cosmic epochs and multi-system societies of Reynold's "Revelation Space" series. Another unique aspect of the book was the twist of placing global dominance not in Euro- or American-centric cultures, or even a Chinese one, but instead in a post-climate change Africa, where a new renaissance has taken place. Swahili is the new English. Pervasive internet access and surveillance grant telepresence in 'proxy' robotic bodies, as well as a nearly crime-free society. Some readers may be surprised that only 3 times in the book, and all of those in the final third of the story, is there any violent action. The story follows a rather civil quest along several stops that illustrate humanity's interplanetary spread. It is at its strongest when the environments are the most exotic; Mars' 'Evolvarium' or the undersea city of the Panspermian Initiative. The worldbuilding in Reynold's near future is quite imaginative, with many original ideas. However, I did find the action and suspense sequences weaker than expected. I understand the forthcoming books of the trilogy will follow the future history begun here for another 10,000 years, and I look forward to seeing what Reynolds does with the larger canvas.
A small note I'd like to make regarding this audio edition of the book is that Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's narration was fantastic- he managed the accents quite naturally, and convincingly provided many character voices- both male & female. The cover art, however, is atrocious, and quite below Audible standards. The artwork displayed during playback in the iOS app is (if this is even possible) actually much worse than the minimalist globe-on-black-background shown here. For those like myself, who draw a lot of atmospheric inspiration from book covers, you may want to leave the app in the background or power the screen off.
I love hard core sci-fi, supernatural and fantasy
The writing is solid in typical Reynolds fashion. The narrator is just fantastic and took a slow predictable read and made it come alive.
I knew early on where the story was going and hoped it would have a more thrilling ending. It just kind of fizzled out.
I haven't listened to Kobna before but I will be on the look out for anything else read by him.
I have read every book Reynolds has written and this is by far his weakest work.
Very believable and sympathetic characters; unusual elements introduced slowly.
Very effective characterizations with distinct and appropriate accents.
Exciting, Optimistic and Masterful
I loved most all the characters and hope for this to be a first of a series. Most of the characters I already imagined possible futures they might have.
Omg!! It's so great to hear an African accent, the voice artist adds another level of bliss. I was sad when the story ended. His work was perfect, he took some risk and and succeeded, never going beyond his range.
I listened three times so far.I paused to savor it. After this last read, I appreciate the collaboration even more.
Alistor Reynolds has a rare gift to tell a story without over the top violence. He doesn't shy away from conflict, and there is plenty of action, tension with out cheep tricks. His stories have a convincing hope. Science fiction writers are important as any other form of literature and tell us important things about the future.
This is quite different in style and tone from the usual work of Alastair Reynolds, but the story was good. The narrator delivered the story well, and did a good job of bringing the characters to life.