'among the most significant works of science fiction released in recent years' TOR.COM
An extraordinarily inventive and hugely original SF novel that charts a compelling vision of a future and spins an hypnotic narrative around it. A novel that could command the same amount of attention and furore that met the publication of The Quantum Thief. The richness and originality of its vision combined with its playful take on hard science make this a novel with real commercial potential that will be talked about for years and should launch a major career in SF.
In the far future man has spread out into the galaxy. And diversified. Some have evolved physically into strange new forms, some have become immortal. Some hark back to the old ways. We have built a glorious new future. One that stretches from the sleepy Old World, to new terraformed planets and Dyson spheres built around artificial suns. For as long as we can remember (and some have lived 12,000 years) we have delighted in a rich new existence. Yes there have been wars but we are content in our splendour. Art is revered, life is easy, death forgotten for many. But now there are rumours of a bid to oust the Emperor and a worrying story that our history is not as we remember it - not only man left Earth...
Toner's ambitious debut, which opens the Amaranthine Spectrum series, is a thoughtful, languid space opera. The several 147th-century cultures on display are fascinating, but the pace is leisurely. The characters are also odd and only gradually revealed to be post-human, both physically and intellectually. For example, Lycaste, one of the many protagonists, seems at first mentally limited, and he changes colors much like an octopus to express emotions. He lives naked in a deceptively peaceful world where almost everything he needs quite literally grows on trees including meat and simple utensils or can be scavenged from the wreckage of the deep past. Meanwhile, the centuries-long reign of the immortal ruler of the Amaranthine Firmament is being contested by another immortal, the mysterious Aaron the Long-Life, and the entire decadent empire is under attack by a number of mortal post-human species. The pace picks up as the tale moves toward its end, but this is the kind of book that will most appeal to cerebral readers who can appreciate its characters' many verbal interactions even when they delay the plot.
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Incredible Space Opera
For his first book this is an incredible start. I look forward to reading the next one! Definitely an author to keep an eye on!