Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review: Blue Remembered Earth

After the lackluster Terminal World and Slow Bullets, I picked up Blue Remembered Earth with trepidation. Fortunately, this novel is miles better than either of his previous works, and leads me to believe that I will continue to enjoy (and seek out) more Alastair Reynolds books in the future.

Blue Remembered Earth is set in a near future. Nantechnology is common, as are space elevator trips, a moon base, and asteroid mining. The novel depicts Geoffrey and Sunday Akinya, two scions of an African matriarch (Eunice) who single-handedly built a lucrative empire based on space-exploration and exploitation. When the aforementioned matriarch dies, Geoffrey is called on by the other members of the family to investigate a safe-deposit box left on the moon by Eunice.

One thing leads to another, and Geoffrey and Sunday end up in the deep oceans (dealing with the United Aquatic Nations), on Phobos and Mars, as well as a climatic visit to the Kuiper belt. As far as a wild romp through the solar system it's a lot of fun, but the plot device is thin, and extremely tenuous. The world building is entertaining, but not vivid, and of course, Reynolds has no plausible explanation as to why the African continent rose to be an economic super-power other than "I thought it was their turn."

The science is mostly impeccable, and I enjoyed the depiction of man's near future self-created utopia. Lesser writers would have made it something to rebel against, but Reynolds goes out of his way to actually show how it eliminates many of the problems that plague humanity today.

Now, it's not up to par to his previous work such as Revelation Space or House of Suns, but it's still a boldly optimistic view of humanity's near future, something that's rare these days. Recommended.

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