Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have to date read all of Alistair Reynolds books (at least I think I have, he is after all rather prolific). So. I’m a fan.
I’ve always seen him as slightly uneven though, and although a brilliant story-teller, not always the perfect craftsman, and his characterization leaves at times things to which for.
(Usual self-repeat: I won’t cover the story in this review, plenty of others do).
So let’s start with the major let down: characterization. The main character (Geoffrey) starts out a whining bitch and continues so for half of the book. This is a characteristic he seems to share with his sister, unless their together at which point the sister seems to grow a bit: clearly you can’t have two characters who’s only contribution to the dialogue is “it won’t work”, “we’ll all die”, or “what makes you think I like you”. Really, that’s a fair summary of nearly 85% of all Geoffrey’s dialogue through the first half of the book.
I’m all for anti-heroes, but there’s got to be something interesting in the character you can latch onto. But for Geoffrey there is nothing. His love for the elephants? Meh…
So in order to move the story along there has to be other people than the main characters around to not only explain things but also to take initiatives at all… Let’s just say that there is a certain construct who got a lot of disposition on her plate, poor thing.
Interestingly enough, I think my other major problem with the book stems from the first: When Geoffrey “grows up” and stop whining (which is, by the way, through with a suitably transparent kill-move) the feel of the entire story changes. From an anti-hero travelogue to an ordinary space opera. It felt… A bit abrupt and… sloppy.
That’s my whining out of the way. This is still a terrific read. Everything else is exactly where I want it. Pace, scenery, grandeur and story. It all slot together in a slick machinery that you just want to continue forever.
Although this is, by Alistair Reynolds measuring, fairly near future, and contained around the solar system, the feeling of awe and grandeur that Reynolds can magic up at times is astonishing. Someone said that the hallmark of great SF is the feeling of opening-up, of a sense of wonder, and this book has it in abundance.
A 3/5 rating? Well… It really is a very strong 3. Had the transition from anti-hero to “normal” story been smoother this would have been a 4. And with the whining toned down a bit and Geoffrey fleshed out a bit earlier in the book it would have been a border-line 5.
Good stuff! I can’t wait for the next volume.
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