Fascinatin' Rhythm

January 20, 2014

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thurulingas @ 2:45 pm
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On The Steel Breeze: Cover Image

Alastair Reynolds: On The Steel Breeze

I hadn’t really expected Reynolds’s Blue Remembered Earth to get a sequel, but was tolerably pleased when it turned out it he’d gone and done one.  I found the reluctant heroes of the first novel, Geoffrey and Sunday Akinya, engaging and likeable, and the mysteries they unravelled as the book progressed similarly so.

So it was with some disappointment that I opened On The Steel Breeze to discover that much time has elapsed since the events of its predecessor, and the vaunted Akinya family has fallen, if not hugely far, then certainly from its previous position as the premier family of the civilisation of that time.  Geoffrey is gone, and Sunday is in a virtual coma, rousing only occasionally before lapsing back into chasing the illusions of new mathematics that she uncovered.

So the focus shifts to Chiku Akinya, scion of the dynasty, and I placed my trust in Reynolds to deliver another character as much fun to read.  And what does he do.  He only goes and dos a 3-for-1 deal!

Now, the idea of splitting and recombining personalities and memories has been explored by many different authors (Dick, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale; Brin, Kil’n People, Tepper, The True Game, among others).  but the permanent 3-way split, with deliberate transformation of the original so that no identification was subsequently possible, I’ve not seen before.  Chiku was an uncomfortable heroine, somewhat naive in each of her three incarnations, and at least for me her attachments to people never really rang true.  In common with Geoffrey of the earlier novel, she seemed more able to love elephants than people who would love her back.  It’s something of a shame that I came to read the three interleaved stories (of Chikus Red, Yellow, and Green) as mere adjuncts to Eunice’s story, and the struggle between her and the intelligence that is slowly corrupting the Mechanism that ensures the safety and prosperity of the Surveilled World (and what a hideously suggestive euphemism that is).

The book, it’s probably no surprise to reveal, lends itself to yet another sequel, when we will find out how the holoships survive, what happens to Crucible, and how the Surveilled World copes with its new predicament.  If Chiku Red takes on the narrative, she’llhave to become more than she was in this novel, where she was mostly marking time until her actions at the end of the novel.  The interest in any sequel storyline lies, in common with most of Reynolds’s work, outside of the sphere of Earth and the solar system.

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