Reynolds (Terminal World) cements his status as one of the preeminent writers of hard SF with this gripping and intelligent kickoff to the three-book Poseidon’s Children sequence. It’s 2161, and Africa is the Earth’s “dominant economic and technological” power. Geoffrey Akinya has used major scientific advances to enhance his research into elephant intelligence, preparing to mind-meld with wild pachyderms. His studies are interrupted by the death of his 131-year-old grandmother Eunice, which catalyzes events that takes the biologist to the Moon and beyond to decipher a series of clues Eunice left behind. Akinya’s quest further enmeshes him in some very complicated family dynamics. The futuristic science, which includes expansions of virtual reality and a convenient mode of travel from Earth to the Moon, is plausibly conveyed. Beyond that, Reynolds’s creative imagination uses current and speculative science and technology as the underlying structure for a thoughtful exploration of humanity’s place in the universe. Agent: Robert Kirby, United Agents. (June)
In the 22nd century, Africa leads the world in economics and technology, while most people live long, disease- and hunger-free lives. Humanity has expanded to the moon, Mars, and beyond. The grandchildren of the late Eunice Akinya, matriarch of the powerful Akinya family, puzzle over her curious legacy and her possible connection to a cult dedicated to spreading all life forms throughout the known universe. As Geoffrey Akinya, who has devoted his life to the study of elephants in the Amboseli Basin, learns more, he realizes that Eunice involved herself in matters that could potentially tear the universe apart. The author of Revelation Space and Terminal World launches a series following one family into the far future, as the human journey into space extends past the solar system into the further reaches of the galaxy. Reynolds combines hard science with believable characters and a strong plot to deliver his vision of a future in the stars. VERDICT This dynastic series opener deals with the popular topics of space travel and colonization of other planets in a style that should appeal to fans of David Brin and Kim Stanley Robinson.
First volume of a new planet-hopping series from the author of Terminal World (2010). By the middle of the next century, Africa is the dominant technological and economic power (a provocative notion, though Reynolds declines to show us how this came to be), wars and poverty have vanished, and violence is impossible: Thanks to mandatory neural implants, anybody that so much as attempts it gets zapped with an incapacitating migraine. Geoffrey, scion of the rich and powerful Akinya clan, studies elephants in the hope of achieving a full mind-meld with them. Recently, Eunice, Geoffrey's grandmother, a brilliant researcher who spent the latter part of her long life as a recluse aboard an orbiting space station, died, having left a MacGuffin somewhere in the solar system and a series of teasing clues to its location. Geoffrey's cousins, ruthless businessmen Hector and Lucas, prefer the MacGuffin remain undiscovered or, better, destroyed; still, they send Geoffrey up to the moon to investigate the first clue. Geoffrey, despite strict instructions from Hector and Lucas not to, can't help enlisting his sister, Sunday, to help with the search. Thus the plot--find the MacGuffin, get the grand tour--uncomfortably resembles that of Kim Stanley Robinson's recent 2312, for which we probably have Dan Brown to thank. The backdrop sparkles with human merfolk and bioengineering, artificial intelligences or "artilects," "quangled" (quantum-entangled) mind-to-mind conversations and a whirl of experimental habitats and societies. The most lifelike character, Eunice, is a multipartite computer reconstruction, even though her MacGuffin turns up in the place most of us would look first, never mind the red herrings. Along the way, Reynolds tosses out and then casually abandons dozens more astonishing concepts and developments. Readers hoping for adventures in the mind-boggling fashion of Revelation Space may emerge dissatisfied but certainly not deterred.