I feel bad that I didn't enjoy this book more, since it was a potentially interesting mix of hard near-future SF and spelljammer Georgian sailor/astro..Show More »nauts - even writing that description shows the potential! And it isn't a bad book at all - the story relies on some nice elements of familiar Golden Age science fiction puzzle solving, mixed with more fantastic and swashbuckling adventures. So, there is fun to be had.
Unfortunately, the author can't quite pull off the audacious storyline, mostly, oddly, because of failures of imagination. The overall setting is terrifically good, especially the alternate version of Master and Commander-style swashbuckling among the stars, but Martinez doesn't really do enough with it. Given the initial imagination, one wishes that the author would give us more exotic settings, but instead we get a moderately clever one-to-one translation of the world of the late 18th century to the solar system - Venus as Africa/South America, Mercury as Australia, etc. Similarly, the characters are rather stock, and the worldbuilding just sketchy enough to be distracting (the geopolitics and technology seem remarkably stagnant in the future, for example). This is coupled with clunky descriptions (a mining robot is described as looking like Curiosity rover, a vehicle is described as looking like a 20th century pickup truck, etc.). The overall effect is a book that you wish was written by a bit more capable writer to fully deliver.
The reads are similarly almost good enough. A few accents are flubbed, some readings are a bit off - again, nothing horrific, but you wish for just a bit more.
I certainly don't mind the time I spent with the book, but I kept waiting to get blown away and it didn't happen. In the end, solid enough, but it could have been much more.
I assume anyone looking at this has read the first novel in the trilogy, "the Daedalus incident". (If you haven't, go pick it up now. It's absolutely ..Show More »charming.)
However, while the first novel was uniquely charming, the sequel is absolutely astounding. The biggest improvement is in the characters, who in the first novel tended towards archetypes but here finally cement into real people we care for. In particular I tip my hat to the resolution of the particularly obnoxious teenage crush Weatherby and Ann Baker had in the first novel.
The book is, again, not without faults. You quickly find yourself keeping up with four inter-woven plots rather than one whole, and I never felt these distinct stories fully meshed in a satisfactory way. However, each story is fascinating in its own right, so it is very hard to mind. My compliments to Mr. Martinez. Looking forward to the final book coming out soon.