Less galaxy and aeon spanning than some of Reynolds’s previous work, Blue Remembered Earth is nevertheless highly enjoyable. It’s a positive and very human tale of mankind’s future in space set some 150 years hence which is very reminiscent of Arthur C Clarke at his most optimistic and proficient (say Imperial Earth or The Fountains of Paradise). The treasure-hunt plot is fairly straightforward but serves to showcase a brilliantly rendered imagining of the solar system in the 2160s, a post climate change Earth (a time known as the Anthropocene) in which the dominant global powers are Africa, India and China and in which every human being has a neural interface allowing them to instantly access augmented reality, experience remote situations by occupying telepresence proxies or even share the thought processes of a similarly implanted elephant…
The characters are engaging and likable and whilst some questions are left dangling this is absolutely fine as this is but the first volume of the Poseidon’s Children trilogy. Could perhaps have done with some more careful proofreading before going to print as there were a couple of minor errors (“Valles Marineris was wide enough to span Africa from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian" and, on an abandoned Russian base on the Martian surface "Faded almost to illegibility was a hammer-and-sickle flag”) but all in all a worthy addition to the Reynolds canon. I for one am eagerly looking forward to volume two of the trilogy.
I don’t know why I missed this one on publication having previously devoured all of Alastair Reynolds’s output as soon as it had appeared but in some ways I am glad I did as it meant I had an unexpected bonus read before moving on to his latest novel.
This is a welcome return to the Revelation Space series of novels and short stories and in many ways a prequel to the main sequence. Although it works very well as a standalone, some pre knowledge of the background of this universe is advisable and would help bring the reader up to speed on the history and technology of Yellowstone, the Glitter Band, the Ultras and any other inhabitants of mankind’s Epsilon Eridani colony in the 25th century. That is not to say it would be inaccessible to a new reader as enough background information is cunningly drip fed into the narrative.
But it is the narrative itself that is the star here. Even though (as expected) this is space opera at the top of its game, when it comes down to it the story is a gripping murder mystery even if the scale is far greater than that of any normal police procedural. Despite the book’s length I finished it in double quick time, so keen was I to find out what happened next and I must admit that as I neared the end I experienced a growing sense of unease and loss when I saw how little of it there was left to read.
The characters - whether human, hyper-pig, post-human, or something else entirely - are well drawn and realistic enough to make you genuinely care what happens to them (in the case of the antagonists this means you are hoping against hope that they will eventually get their just desserts). The worlds and their technologies are superbly realised, some of the scenes dripping with a visual sense almost cinematic in its scope. Reynolds’s novels would all make fantastic films but one fears the inevitable dumbing down that would occur at the hands of Hollywood.
The ending is satisfying although one cannot help but feel a sense of melancholy when one recalls what is to become of everyone in the chronologically later (but earlier published) novels.