BLUE REMEMBERED EARTH is the first volume in a monumental trilogy tracing the Akinya family across more than ten thousand years of future history ... out beyond the solar system, into interstellar space and the dawn of galactic society.
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 ...
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.
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I really wanted to love this book, having read everything else that Reynolds has written I'm well disposed to him. Unfortunately though the few problems I have with his writing (dialogue and characterisation particularly) were fully on show here. People acting stupidly, doing stupid things in order to create tension. The dialogue was painful in places, I found myself rolling my eyes and sighing at the characters at times - not good if you find the main character a bit of a prat. Still, there is an interesting, if not that original heart to the book, which is the processes and politics of humanity's first step towards the stars. I'll probably read the next one, so I guess that's an endorsement in itself.