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 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.
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.
This was the first Alastair Reynolds I've listened to (or read) and I was pleasantly surprised! Too often science fiction books are filled with endless paragraphs of exposition explaining how this or that works or can be scientifically explained; some people obviously like that kind of thing, but I prefer more nuance in writing style, prefer an author who can explain the science through the story and Reynolds has done just that in this book.
As for the narration, I thought it was brilliant. Perhaps those who have had problems with this narrator had issues because they were so used to the narrator (who has a very particular style) who has done so much of Reynolds other work? Anyway, I thought this narrator was fantastic. Could've done without the music between parts, but luckily that didn't come up often.
I'm off to buy the sequel.
I'm a big fan of Alastair Reynolds's novels (but particularly the Revelation Space series) so the concept of a medium-future space opera is an enticing one. Most SF tends to be 5 minutes from now or way way in the future so this is atypical, set in a time of colonization of the inner planets, with more sporadic industrial colonization of the outer planets and their moons. Due to environmental collapse due to global warming, Africa as emerged as a major power, and the main characters are black sheep members of the very rich and successful Akinya family making lots of money out of space tech. Doing a favour for his yuppie-ish cousins, Elephant behavioural scientist Geoffrey Akinya is sent on a treasure hunt around the solar system after artefacts left by the fearsome and recently deceased family matriarch Eunice, whose adventures around the solar system started the whole thing off.
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does another fantastic narration job here. He can do an old Chinese lady talking to a young African boy and put you in the conversation, without it seeming like an episode of Allo Allo.
Yes, but not every friend. They would have to like rollicking adventure mixed with (mostly) hard sci-fi and not mind the occasional plot hole. I'm friends with people like that.
I liked the scenes on the moon, particularly with the genetic zoo keeper characters.
Well it has, and I was happy to spend more time with the Akinya family.
I really liked Kobna Holbrook-Smith's narration...eventually. It probably took me about a third of the book to get used to his unusual style but once I did I loved the quirky voice choices and caramel tones.
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.
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.
Refreshingly, this story is set in a future where climate change has pushed global dominance to the southern hemisphere and to Africa, where an African renaissance has taken place and Swahili rather than English is now the dominant language of global communication. There is much more of a human element in this story than in Reynold's other works. We discover the story of a powerful African family as they slowly unravel a mystery left behind by their recently deceased matriarch and begin to understand the legacy she has left them. Along the way Reynold's paints a grand picture of a hopeful future, set much closer to our current timeline than anything he has done before. The Moon and Mars are colonised and space exploration has just branched out as far as Jupiter. Fascinatingly, the earths oceans are also being colonised and an underwater nation has been established.
Some Reynolds fans will probably struggle with this as it is so different to his other works. Essentially this is a story about the bonds of family, set against the backdrop of humanity's exploration of the solar system. I understand the forthcoming books will follow the future history begun here for another ten thousand years and I am greatly looking forward to how it unfolds.
With regards to the narrator I am quite surprised at how many reviewers disliked Kobna Holbrook-Smiths narration. I found his African accents suited the narrative perfectly. They were well done and not cheesy at all. I disliked John Lee's narration of the Revelation Space series so much that after listening to the first book, I read the other two. I can't begin to imagine him doing an African narrative and am very grateful that the producers choice Kobna-Holbrook Smith for this one.
"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.
"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.
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.
"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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