This was the second Reynolds book I have read, the other was the Prefect. Reynolds is wonderful at unfolding a detailed and inventive story that is both interesting and illuminating. He also takes time to build a foundation for understanding his key characters, which is important. Unfortunately in both this book and the Prefect, his lead human characters make decisions that don't seem "human" or minimally contradict expectations set by his character development. In this, there are two strong woman lead characters, supposedly friends, supposedly on space "ships" with cultures in the sailing tradition. Yet one of the lead characters, "the Engineer" leads a mutiny against the other, "the Captain" and then locks her away for more than a dozen years for reasons that don't make sense. It is understandable that the Captain upset her mutinous Engineer when not believing her unsupported technical conclusions, Reynolds defined the Engineer character as a professional to whom the technical details matter most. But it was only after the Captain started making decisions based upon good Engineering calculations, that her Engineer friend decided it was time to rebel, along with the other engineers, who suddenly could no longer do technical calculations and thus opposed the captain.
When I read the Prefect, I decided that the overall story was good enough to ignore the character flaws and read another Reynolds work. But when similar (worse) flaws came up again in this book, I think I might avoid future Reynolds books. I think it takes something Major away from the overall story when the characters don't add up.
The performance of this book is very good. There are several characters and the story continuously jumps between them. The reader's voices make it easy to follow each scene change. The book itself is mediocre story telling and the kind of science fiction which is very easy to digest because it doesn't go well beyond current capability. The author appears to have read (from the terminology borrowed), very good Sci Fi writers such as Dan Simmons. If you are into deep sci-fi, I would skip it, but if you are up for something at the quality level of a good TV miniseries, this can be an enjoyable listen.
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