||The very nice people at Gollancz have been kind enough to send me some books to review|
Orion / Gollancz
(The second book in the Ragnarok series)
A novel by John Meaney
Click to buy the book
The second volume of Meaney's epic Ragnarok space opera trilogy. The dark matter in the universe is alive and is seeking to pervert human history to its own ends. Its influence has reached back into the dark ages, to the centre of the 3rd Reich and 600 years into the future. The Ragnarok universe not only provides a stunning SF rationale for Norse mythology but posits a world where pilots are locked into symbiotic relationships with their ships and the cities can come alive.
First let me start this by saying i really am not a fan of Sci-fi, i will watch it, but cant really read it. I think most of the authors are amazingly talented and have imaginations that are bizarre and inspiring, after all that's how we have Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr Who, etc..
So when i got this book to review i groaned but at the same time i knew i had to read the book, getting a freebie deserves the decency of a read.
John Meaney's writing came across as edgy, exciting, fast paced and well plotted, it wasn't the depth of the last sci-fi series i read (Otherland by Tad Williams) but it was still very clever, weaving some mythology alongside the authors fantastic imagination.
I actually enjoyed this, would i buy another of his books? No probably not, but that's just me and Sci-fi, but i can see anyone who liked the genre giving this 4 stars + (so i will do the same).
Blue Remembered Earth (2011)
(The first book in the Poseidon's Children series)
A novel by Alastair Reynolds
Click to buy the book
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 ...
Guest Reviewers Web Blog
Our first guest review by Kate @ forwinternights
Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
Just one look at the cover of Blue Remembered Earth was enough for me to know I had to read it - blue seas, vast space, Africa, elephants, starships. The potential problem with such an exceptional cover is that it leaves the author with a lot to do and a readership, or at least me, with high expectations. The wonderful title of the new series by Alastair Reynolds exasperates matters: Poseidon's Children. We learn that the trilogy will trace the evolution of humanity over 11,000 years, with each novel hooked on to a particular point of that great space of time and, presumably, standing alone. This first novel is set 150 years from now at a time when mankind has expanded its reach across the solar system but has become largely confined on earth to Africa and the planet's seas.
The focus of Blue Remembered Earth is on the powerful Akinya family at the moment when it loses its matriarch, Eunice. While one side of the family (Hector and Lucas) has continued to develop the interests of the Akinya's business empire, their cousins Geoffrey and Sunday have taken the opposite path with Geoffrey working with elephants and Sunday scraping a living as an artist on the Moon. Sunday lives in the Descrutinized Zone, away from The Mechanism which sees all on earth, from inside the mind and from without. But nothing pulls together a family quite like a death.
When Geoffrey agrees, in return for research funds, to go to the Moon and see what his grandmother Eunice had left in a bank vault, it's the beginning of a journey for Geoffrey and Sunday that takes them to the bottom of the seas, to Mars and even to Neptune. As they follow the breadcrumbs left by this remarkable women, her grandchildren learn that nothing or noone is what it seems.
The mystery story is intriguing and keeps pace and interest, but the real strength of Blue Remembered Earth is in its ideas and imaginings. Quite apart from the concept of the Mechanism and the ability of human beings to transfer their consciousness into machines or other people, no matter how far away, there are moments which are mesmerising. For me, the highlight, appropriately enough for the title of the series, is the people who have transformed their bodies to live in the oceans. Then there is the Evolvarium of Mars, the dangerous wasteland in which robots and machines cannibalise one another and evolve. The ideas are also large - questions of creation, the dispersal of the human race, independence, the family and so on are also debated through the behaviour of characters, some of whom have taken themselves to the extremes of humanity. Interestingly, this is a world in which Europe and America are done. Africans and Asians dominate science and technology here.
While I didn't particularly warm to Sunday and Geoffrey, and Blue Remembered Earth didn't engage my emotions to a large degree, I was fascinated by many of the ideas and peoples I was introduced to and I am intrigued to think what the next step will be for this rapidly evolving universe. I don't think you have to be science fiction enthusiast alone to fall for Blue Remembered Earth. Even though at times I found it a little cold, the novel is accessible and in places jaw dropping. I hope we don't have to wait too long for the second book in Poseidon's Children.