This is my third Alastair Reynolds novel. The other two I listened to were narrated by John Lee. He's okay, but not one of my favorites. However, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is a narrator I will be looking out for in the future. He's phenomenal. There's an epilogue that's told in first-person plural where the narrator mixes the voices of the characters who are telling that part of the story. It sounds so interesting and I can't imagine any other narrator who could pull it off so well. It could have ended up being either confusing or hokey, but it was neither.
As for the story, I thought it was very good. It's not like the other Alastair Reynolds books I've listened to, but it's good on its own terms. There were a couple of times when I wanted to slap the characters and tell them to think a bit harder. It took quite a while for them to realize that Eunice was sending them on a treasure hunt. It wasn't the most original story, and it did have some fairly predictable moments, but it was very well done.
Good story, the simplistic " Ethnic Type Music" is distracting and annoying. could have done better without it.
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.
I would recommend this to a reader that enjoyed RevelationSpace or Chasm City' or the Prefect. Blue Remembered Earth is much more similar in toneto those novels than, let's say, House of Suns.Let's
The ending was a let down. The ending was relatively weak and unsatisfying which is why I only gave the story 3 stars.
He is A very nice narrator.
No, this was solid Alastair Reynolds - nice combination of hard science and speculative fiction.
Interesting story and characters + fantastic narrator = perfect for occupying time during a long road trip
This was my first experience with the author and the narrator and I am glad to have discovered both.
I don't know - maybe I'm a little too American-centric but I just wasn't able to get into the story. Probably sounds bad but not meant to be. The story was kind of like a scavenger hunt but I had no understanding of the goal in mind. People just headed off because some dead person told them to do so. The story ended with hope for the follow-on books if developed properly. I'll give "On the Steel Breeze" a try just because the last chapter or so of BRE finally seemed to go somewhere.
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's reading and accent were actually very pleasant. Some of the characters voices were a bit outrageous, funny even, but for the most part I really enjoyed the narrator's work. Personally, I don't think the narrator would need to be ethnically limited. I'd listen to any sci-fi story he decided to read. Obviously, he was the perfect choice for this book. I hope Adjoa Andoh does as well with the second book.
I wish I could get paid to listen to books....
Intellengent, well written
this book has a different look to the future of mankind. I think I could compare it to some of A C Clark's concepts altought the writing style is better and modern.
Great accents, complimented the book...
I was pleasantly surprised that this book set in Africa, it was good to read a book with an international setting.
Tell us about yourself!
Absolutely. The choice of narrators was perfect.
Terminal World - great characters, interesting world, contrived, predictable story.
Blue Remembered Earth starts out slow and takes its time developing the central storyline but what it lacks in typical, Alastair Reynolds, space opera, action it makes up for with outstanding world and character building. The plot is essentially a scavenger hunt in space and is as contrived as it sounds. The characters are given clues and are led along, much like the reader, pretty much in the dark, motivated only by curiosity and yet often overcome with reluctance to leave their comfortable lives. As a result, I found the overall story dissatisfying and one of the rare Alastair Reynold books I did not fully enjoy. That said, I found the central and supporting characters some of the most compelling of any Reynold’s story and the near future world that the author creates one of his best, easily matching the complexity and whimsy of Revelation Space. While this first entry of the Poseidon’s Children trilogy was somewhat disappointing, this novel is still excellent hard science fiction and I am quite looking forward to diving into the sequel. The narration was excellent – outstanding decision to change narrators for this series. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith was a perfect choice for the numerous African accents and adds depth to the story and the characters.
I was disappointed to find that Alastair Reynolds would write a science fiction novel of almost 22 hours in narrated length that focused mainly on elephants (large and dwarf) and uninteresting characters acting out their petty sibling rivalry. I write this as one who has listened and enjoyed several of his other novels.