Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings reviews Alastair Reynolds’ Blue Remembered Earth, the first novel in the Poseidon’s Children trilogy, published by Gollancz.
“A fascinating, original and enthralling Space Opera that you won’t want to miss.” ~The Founding Fields
I recently mentioned on The Founding Fields that Blue Remembered Earth was one of the notable science fiction and fantasy releases of January 2012, so I was delighted when I got the chance to read it, so I’d like to start this review with a thank you to Gollancz for providing me with a review copy. If you’ll remember from that post, I gave Blue Remembered Earth a 4/5 Projected Verdict. So, let’s see how It matched up.
I’ve never read anything by Alastair Reynolds before, despite owning a copy of Galactic North, one of his anthologies. However, with his latest release of Blue Remembered Earth, I thought that now would probably be the best time to start reading his work.
And I must say that I found Blue Remembered Earth to be fantastic. Original world-building, (A/N: Original from what I’ve seen) interesting plot and well-rounded characters, Reynolds’ latest novel is one, despite the hefty price of the hardback edition, not to be missed.
The novel takes place one hundred and fifty years from now, when Africa is dominant in both economic and technological power, and crime, war – poverty and disease have been successfully beaten, Geoffrey Akinya, the main protagonist of the story – desires only one thing: to be left in peace, allowed to continue his studies of the elephants of the Amboseli basin, despite the massive fortune that his family own, having benefited from wherever mankind has reached across the solar system. However, after the death of Geoffrey’s grandmother Eunice, something has come to light that Geoffrey and his sister Sunday are thrust into investigating. But little does anyone in the Akinya family realise what they are about to unravel, and with the secrets of a woman whose ashes are scattered in sight of Kilimanjaro about to come back into the open. Secrets that could change everything, and shatter the peaceful utopia that has been forged amongst the solar system.
Reynolds has put a lot of effort into making the world enjoyable for the reader as we follow Geoffrey and Sunday on their tour of the solar system. In a way, Blue Remembered Earth is an intriguing description in a world that could be, with my only real issue when it comes to world-building being that I don’t think superpowers such as the USA would have as little impact on the future as they do in this novel, but otherwise it provides an interesting read in a setting that I’ve not read much about.
I’ll have to check out some more Alastair Reynolds soon, if all his work is as good as this though. He’s got some fantastic ideas here, ideas that could easily be part of their own novel, and again – that helps to make this story interesting.
Reynolds is also pretty good at writing about humour as well, and there is lots of it in this story – despite the serious atmosphere created. It doesn’t feel out of place, and is a welcome change to the serious Space Opera novels that I’ve read in the past, such as Seeds of Earth by Michael Cobley.
Although I mentioned earlier that the characters are well-rounded, there are only a few which I found to be pretty well developed, and that is the main duo of this novel, Geoffrey and Sunday – who get the most page time – leaving some of the other characters, Jitendra, Sunday’s boyfriend among them, feeling rather flat.
The novel itself could be easily, bar a few minor details, could be left as a standalone, with the ending of Blue Remembered Earth being fantastic, but – that doesn’t really matter, as I would love to read more about the Akinya adventures, particularly in a story that will drag you in and refuse to let you go.
Reynolds has been described as the “Maestro of British Sci-Fi,” and just by reading Blue Remembered Earth alone I can tell you that he lives up to that title. The novel is just fantastic – and despite its flaws, it’s well worth a look into.
At the start of the novel, the antagonists, Geoffrey and Sunday’s cousins may come across as a little bit cartoonish and unlikeable, but by the end of the Blue Remembered Earth, you’ll find that they’ve improved a lot.
Blue Remembered Earth is also a very good starter to get you into Space Opera as well. It doesn’t have an overload of technology, like I’ve been informed that Alastair Reynolds’ novels have, and as far as I’m aware, this has been described as his least technical work yet, so for people who are new to Space Opera or Hard Sci-Fi, they should find Blue Remembered Earth will be a pretty enjoyable read.
More Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space, Chasm City, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap, Century Rain, Pushing Ice, The Prefect, House of Suns, Terminal World, Blue Remembered Earth