Synopsis: On the Steel Breeze is the second book of Alastair Reynolds' Poseidon's Children trilogy. Geoffrey, the protagonist from the first book, Blue Remembered Earth, is gone. Referenced, not seen. Humanity has a new version of physics they are messing around with (disastrously) and have launched a series of huge spaceships towards the planet Crucible with the aim of exploring and colonizing it. Chiku, our new protagonist and apparently the last of the Akinya bloodline, has split herself into three people via cloning technology. Each clone is identical and their memories have been synced so that no one can tell who the original is. Chiku Yellow (they all have colors to differentiate them) stays on earth, Chiku Green goes on the push to Crucible, and Chiku Red is sent on a mission to deep space to discover what happened to their great grandmother Eunice Akinya.
Reynolds doesn't seem to be very good at pacing. Much of this book was fairly slow. Its muddling around, its not totally clear whats going on, and I think he was trying to use some sort of adventure-mystery kind of thing to lead up to the more interesting stuff. I don't really think it worked. Arachne wasn't really a huge surprise, and neither was she a particularly great villain. An almost sympathetic villain, actually, and thats not a good thing. Good villains usually need to be someone I can actively hate on.
About two-thirds of the way through the book, the pace picks up considerably, things get interesting and I liked the book alot more after that. It jusst takes about 300 pages or so to get there.
Another thing to mention is that Reynolds apparently doesn't like elderly people. In the future everyone routinely gets a kind of 'prolongation therapy'. People regularly live to 300 or more years old. One character is denied this therapy as punishment for a crime, so he is doomed to grow old. The character whines a number of times about how he is becoming a 'horror', 'awful', and my favorite 'walking nightmare'. Really? The character is getting old Reynolds, he's not changing into Cthulu.
OtSB is a little more grimdark than BRE was, and thats where Reynolds really shines, so I can say I like it better than BRE. Its not terribly epic, however. 3 stars at best for epic.
General rating: 3 1/2
Epic rating: 3