One hundred and fifty years from now, in a world where Africa is the dominant technological and economic power, and where crime, war, disease, and poverty have been banished to history, Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin.
But Geoffrey's family, the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans. After the death of Eunice, Geoffrey's grandmother, erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur, something awkward has come to light on the Moon, and Geoffrey is tasked - well, blackmailed, really - to go up there and make sure the family's name stays suitably unblemished.
But little does Geoffrey realise - or anyone else in the family, for that matter - what he's about to unravel. Eunice's ashes have already have been scattered in sight of Kilimanjaro. But the secrets she died with are about to come back out into the open, and they could change everything. Or shatter this near-utopia into shards....
©2012 Alastair Reynolds (P)2012 Orion Publishing Group Limited
The narration is not as bad as some people think (to me anyway). The book is based around Africa and once you accept that and that all the accents are African based, then its all good.
My main problem isn't with the voice, its those stupid pan-pipes that are there inbetween a lot of chapters. I would be quite happily listening away in my own little world and then that effin noise would come along and get me all riled up.
The book itself is not as good as his other work. At this stage I have listened to pretty much all his books available on Audible and this is probably the one I liked least, but still enjoyable for all that... just loose the pan pipes.
This review is more about the narration than the book, I just want to take issue with the negative reviews of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. I find his narration style excellent and very suitable for this work, initially i had a little problem identifying voices of the main character and his sister as children (they sounded too alike) but after the first chapter the narrator seemed to 'find his voice' and things improved dramatically. Give this book a chance and dont be put off by the negative reviews.
Being a big Reynolds fan (same as the first reviewer) I decided to ignore his comments the narrator could never be so bad as to put me off - I'm afraid he was but I couldn't get 30 minutes into it before turning off.
My suggestion is to listen to the sampler first - some people may be OK with his voice and I am sure the book is great.
This is a trip back to the roots of the Reynolds universe. Humans have not yet travelled further than the solar system but you can see the nascent technology of his other books here. It is a slow start to what I suspect will become a far ranging story in subsequent volumes. There isn't much edge of the seat excitement until the second half of the book and it is used sparingly; it was a good listen and I found myself going back over passages as there is a lot of plot to this story and it helps to pay attention.
I was alarmed to read a couple of the other comment here about the narration but I was relieved to find it a lot better than many other books I have listened to from Audible. The narrator has a good range of tone to separate the characters and good diction; his accents are also appropriate to the story and he reads it with expression which demonstrates and transmits understanding. Overall I would say Holdbrook-Smiths narration added to the presentation rather than being a distraction.
The only reason for not giving 5 stars is this a not quite a "can't put it down to the end" book, but it is a good story to be savored in manageable segments.
An engrossing tale of a future world. I'm about two thirds through and really enjoying it. I'm also quite amazed by all the flak the narrator's getting. I've been very impressed with his work - his characterisation is subtle and consistent and "acted" to a high standard. Clearly it seems he's not for everyone, but to my ears, he does a great job.
Having previously heard all of Alastair Reynolds' novels on Audible and greatly enjoyed John Lee's narration I was initally put off by some of the negative reviews of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's work. I shouldn't have worried; he really brings the characters in this book to life in a way that I don't think John Lee could have achieved in such a convincing way.
Although the story doesn't have the star-striding scale of some of Alastair Reynolds' other works, this is a more human tale that lays the groundwork for two more novels that no doubt will see humankind reach the stars. I can't wait...
Four stars because it's an Alisair Reynolds novel and they're always enjoyable, but why oh why didn't Audible use the same narrator who did all the other Reynolds books for them? When you have a winning combination, stick to it.
In more cynical moments I wonder if maybe it's a ruse by Amazon to get us to buy the audiobook, and then buy the kindle version or hardback as well.
I had been so looking forward to this new AR novel but Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's voice just doesn't work on audio. I can imagine him being a terrific TV or film actor in certain roles, but he is most definitely a fish out of water in simple audio narration. I'm afraid his narration spoilt Rivers of London for me too, so much so that I gave up with it.
There have been a number of highly questionable casting decisions and poor editing that have let audiobooks down of late. Julian May's "Many Coloured Land" is a prime example where an excellent book was trashed by bad choice of narrator, and history and travelogues almost universally because none of these publishing and media experts seems to bother how to pronounce names properly.
Come on Audible - how about a re-record with John Lee?
I wanted to love this but it failed to grab me in the same way all his other books have. The sense of a massive galactic world has been lost and i no longer feel immersed within a space opera.
I'm a big Alastair Reynolds fan and have been waiting for this book for some time. The story line is OK but not Alastair's best. Unfortunately I couldn't get on with the Narrator. The sound and tone of his voice was so annoying I stopped listening to it after 4 hours. Looks like I’ll have to order a hard copy a read it myself.
I really enjoyed this. Its on par with Reynold's better works such as Pushing Ice or House of Suns. The narration is great and I haven't a clue why there are so many negative reviews about it. If you're in doubt listen to the sample.
"100 years out, humans are reaching for the stars."
He did a solid job of playing all the characters, making them sound right, and he had the right voice for the environment of the novel.
Our journey is just beginning.
A change for Alastair Reynolds: This was his attempt to write a more positive future for the human race. The small events of this small narrative of characters will have a dramatic effect on the human race. A very personal story, an exciting race through the solar system and a great introduction to space opera for someone only casually familiar with sci-fi.
Again, unlike most Reynolds this is about humans at the top of our game. Yet still divided. A great read. I understand that the sequel takes place after many changes brought about by the characters in this book. Reynolds left me wanting to read more, and I anticipate the sequel. A great first book in a series, but also a solid stand alone book in it's own right.
One of the best audio books I've listened to
No,drag it out for my weekly drives in the car
Its a great story and well delivered. Alistair Reynolds is a great SF writer, and getting better all the time
I wouldnt compare any books directly with BRE. Clearly, Al reynolds other books come recommended, as do Peter Hamiltons
Its not short enough to do so, but yes I would have liked to
Great book! I look forward to the next instalment
"Excellent narrator, pity about the story."
I've read and listened to a number of Alastair Reynolds books and they are generally excellent. Reynolds usually writes complex and quickly moving plots with many twists. My personal favourites to date have been Terminal World and The Prefect. By comparison this book is very slow and far less engaging.
The plot should have moved more quickly. The characters were not engaging, it was difficult to empathise with them.
All of them, the narrator was excellent.
This book has not put me off Alastair Reynolds as an author.
"good luck waiting for book 2"
This book will assist you in realizing how epic you are as a human being. Just imagine of all the inert matter in this solar system alone, in the galaxy, and in the universe... you as a human being are not comprised of inert matter. You are conscious and self aware of what you are doing. The universe is your mollusk.
Just when you get into the groove of how the world in this book works, you find out how meaningless it all is. Everything is is very local. That feeling of how important you are as a human being can be shaken down to make you feel how very small and insignificant we all are.
There are elephants, lunar dwarf elephants, neural clones, evolving robots, space flight, a human stomping the face off a robot, bombs, and self repairing glasses in restaurants that heal them selves after being dropped on the floor.
Now good luck waiting for book 2.
"Another miss from Reynolds"
He should have skipped the whole first part of the book and instead fleshed out just the last section of the last chapter (was it an epilogue?) into a full story; perhaps make the actual book into a short prologue.
The best potential parts of the book were in the Evolvarium on Mars as well as the underwater colony, but unfortunately both were extremely underdeveloped and all the action I was imagining coming stayed mostly over the horizon. Really disappointing.
Still an engaging writer in terms of style though.
I have read everything Reynolds has written so far and unfortunately, after two misses in a row, I'm starting to doubt that he will ever get back to his best.
Some very soft writing in Blue Remembered Earth makes me think Reynolds is tiring of the Hard Sci-Fi that endeared me to his stories. Hopefully he can get back to his best with the next one.
Very well read by Kobna, accents were impressive and differentiation between male and female voices was mostly well handled. Production value of the title was very good overall with small amounts of theme music placed strategically.
Buy into an African multi-national company...nah not really.
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