One hundred and fifty years from now, in a world where Africa is the dominant technological and economic power, and where crime, war, disease, and poverty have been banished to history, Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin.
But Geoffrey's family, the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans. After the death of Eunice, Geoffrey's grandmother, erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur, something awkward has come to light on the Moon, and Geoffrey is tasked - well, blackmailed, really - to go up there and make sure the family's name stays suitably unblemished.
But little does Geoffrey realise - or anyone else in the family, for that matter - what he's about to unravel. Eunice's ashes have already have been scattered in sight of Kilimanjaro. But the secrets she died with are about to come back out into the open, and they could change everything. Or shatter this near-utopia into shards....
©2012 Alastair Reynolds (P)2012 Orion Publishing Group Limited
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"Enjoyable but some irritating flaws in plot"
For Science Fiction fans yes. Not likely to appeal to readers who do not like the genre, although this particular story is a mix of space opera and family saga.
For SF fans yes
First AR novel I have as audio book. Tempted because I enjoyed this narrator's performance on other titles. Not disappointed, although took time to get into the story, which while engaging once beyond the initial chapters did suffer from some poor plotting. Overall verdict - I have now downloaded the second in the series!
"Well written sci-fi"
This was the first Alastair Reynolds I've listened to (or read) and I was pleasantly surprised! Too often science fiction books are filled with endless paragraphs of exposition explaining how this or that works or can be scientifically explained; some people obviously like that kind of thing, but I prefer more nuance in writing style, prefer an author who can explain the science through the story and Reynolds has done just that in this book.
As for the narration, I thought it was brilliant. Perhaps those who have had problems with this narrator had issues because they were so used to the narrator (who has a very particular style) who has done so much of Reynolds other work? Anyway, I thought this narrator was fantastic. Could've done without the music between parts, but luckily that didn't come up often.
I'm off to buy the sequel.
"Superior space opera"
I'm a big fan of Alastair Reynolds's novels (but particularly the Revelation Space series) so the concept of a medium-future space opera is an enticing one. Most SF tends to be 5 minutes from now or way way in the future so this is atypical, set in a time of colonization of the inner planets, with more sporadic industrial colonization of the outer planets and their moons. Due to environmental collapse due to global warming, Africa as emerged as a major power, and the main characters are black sheep members of the very rich and successful Akinya family making lots of money out of space tech. Doing a favour for his yuppie-ish cousins, Elephant behavioural scientist Geoffrey Akinya is sent on a treasure hunt around the solar system after artefacts left by the fearsome and recently deceased family matriarch Eunice, whose adventures around the solar system started the whole thing off.
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does another fantastic narration job here. He can do an old Chinese lady talking to a young African boy and put you in the conversation, without it seeming like an episode of Allo Allo.
"Passes the time"
If you have nothing better to do - as do I on long regular motorway trips, then its pleasant enough listening.
Not up to the authors usual standard.
That I finshed this a couple of weeks ago, but can't actually remember exactly what the ending was, does rather indicate it didn't grip me!
"I think I liked it."
Yes, but not every friend. They would have to like rollicking adventure mixed with (mostly) hard sci-fi and not mind the occasional plot hole. I'm friends with people like that.
I liked the scenes on the moon, particularly with the genetic zoo keeper characters.
Well it has, and I was happy to spend more time with the Akinya family.
I really liked Kobna Holbrook-Smith's narration...eventually. It probably took me about a third of the book to get used to his unusual style but once I did I loved the quirky voice choices and caramel tones.
"A Bright African Future"
Refreshingly, this story is set in a future where climate change has pushed global dominance to the southern hemisphere and to Africa, where an African renaissance has taken place and Swahili rather than English is now the dominant language of global communication. There is much more of a human element in this story than in Reynold's other works. We discover the story of a powerful African family as they slowly unravel a mystery left behind by their recently deceased matriarch and begin to understand the legacy she has left them. Along the way Reynold's paints a grand picture of a hopeful future, set much closer to our current timeline than anything he has done before. The Moon and Mars are colonised and space exploration has just branched out as far as Jupiter. Fascinatingly, the earths oceans are also being colonised and an underwater nation has been established.
Some Reynolds fans will probably struggle with this as it is so different to his other works. Essentially this is a story about the bonds of family, set against the backdrop of humanity's exploration of the solar system. I understand the forthcoming books will follow the future history begun here for another ten thousand years and I am greatly looking forward to how it unfolds.
With regards to the narrator I am quite surprised at how many reviewers disliked Kobna Holbrook-Smiths narration. I found his African accents suited the narrative perfectly. They were well done and not cheesy at all. I disliked John Lee's narration of the Revelation Space series so much that after listening to the first book, I read the other two. I can't begin to imagine him doing an African narrative and am very grateful that the producers choice Kobna-Holbrook Smith for this one.
"Just a Little Bit Dull"
Not bad, just nowhere near one of his best. Couldn't finish it.
The Universe is more interesting than the story, which did little more than provide a contrived reason to jet about it.
As ever some of the ideas are good - liked the bits with the elephants. Characters are a 2D
Sunday/Geoffrey were interchangeable. Perhaps that was the idea. To many dei ex machina.
The follow-up 'On the Steel Breeze', which I have in hardback, remains stoically unread.
The characters are well thought through and you genuinely grow attached and interested in them. The plot is twisting and detailed yet doesn't leave you confused at any stage.
The narrator is excellent, voicing each of the characters brilliantly and bringing them to life.
A really good book that was well worth the time spent listening, my only regret is that there is no sequel.
My first Alastair Reynolds book - very much enjoyed it. Narration was captivating - simply one of the most well narrated audio books I have listened to. Excellent, consistent and charming range of voices and characterisations.
This is a very thoughtful novel, and it encourages me to read more of Reynolds work.
It is set in a solar system in which Africa has become a dominant force. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's superb narration does full justive to the book with a wide range of accents ...from Nigerian to a Whale who started life as a Chinese girl!
Please do not listen to other reviewers who have criticised the narration ...I honestly don't know what planet they are on !
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