On the Steel Breeze – Alastair Reynolds

Posted: November 26, 2013 in Review, science fiction
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on the steel breezeIt’s not often you come across pure hard science fiction these days, but Reynold’s “Poseidon’s Children” trilogy definitely qualifies. Though I have to say that I had no idea at the time that I was reading the middle volume of a trilogy; although there were references to past events, and the story plainly isn’t over by the end, this is a novel complete in itself.

Set some hundreds of years in the future; it is the story of one woman, Chiku Akinya who has split herself into three… Chiku Red to go chasing after her great-grandmother who’d set out for interstellar space years before; Chiku Green to join the fleet of holoships heading at relativistic speeds towards 61 Virginis, where an Earth-like planet named Crucible carries mysterious evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence in the form of the mysterious Mandela, a structure visible across the light-years; and Chiku Yellow who remains on Earth. Of course, it’s not that simple. For one thing, Chiku Red is missing, and for another, there’s this small matter of slowing down those holoships. More importantly, their objective may not be entirely what they think…

It comes down to a familiar theme in science fiction, the conflict between biological intelligence and machine intelligence, but Reynolds has a new take on the struggle and on its resolution. This is a lengthy but engrossing novel, and although it could be tightened up in places and the ending is a bit abrupt, it’s well worth reading. It has to be said though, that Reynolds has a thing about elephants.

Gollancz

Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

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