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le 9 février 2013
Being a great fan of Alastair Reynolds I was both excited by, and nervous of, his latest series, most of my trepidation being due to concerns that he may have sold-out and start churning out pot-boilers courtesy of a big book deal and a whopping advance. Thankfully, I was wrong. While the story may be a little slow to get going, Reynolds introduces his characters with care & attention to detail so that when the planet hopping treasure-hunt style adventure gets underway the reader is fully immersed in the characters and their near-future environment. What Reynolds really excels at is thinking of really cool stuff, integrating it into his imagined universe and then given them really cool names; the aug, the Mechanism, the Evolvarium (really liked that idea), artilects, the Ocular… the list of original and plausible ideas just goes on.

The plot centres around the events following the funeral of the matriarchal space pioneer of the powerful & rich Akinya dynasty and the series of clues to location on the moon, Phobos and Mars which lead in turn to a revelation on the edge of our solar system which could either presage a new dawn in the human space diaspora or, if misused, their potential destruction. Along the way there are intra family feuds, proof of extra galactic intelligent life, a typically Reynolds-esque extension of the panspermia hypothesis and much more all incorporated into a mature, carefully paced & magnificently written novel.

As you can probably tell, I really liked it. It was perhaps a little slow at the start with all of the elephant messing about but it was never dull; just lots of Reynolds’ masterly wordcraft and imagination. A cracking start to an exhilarating new series from a master of the space opera genre.
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