Blue Remembered Earth is set 150 years into the future, at a time when Africa has become the central dominant power in a society that is a semi-totalitarian near utopia. When the protaganist, Geoffrey's, grandmother, a cantankerous rescluse, who lived her life as an explorer and adventurer, dies she leaves behind a mystery that takes the main characters on a journey around the solar system. It's a breadcrumb mystery (***** the book even uses the term), but honestly? Not a very good one.
I had a really hard time getting into this book for a couple of reasons. The first, and entirely opinionated reason, is that I find the general setting for much of the book slightly off putting.
One of the things that I didn't care for about this book, and its an opinion anyone else may or not share is Africa. Frankly, I'm a cold weather kind of person. I don't care at all for hot weather. When someone says Africa (or writes about it in this case), I think hot, dry plains, blazing sun and all manner of lethal critters. I didn't care for the imagery the setting placed in my head, but that is probably just me.
The other reason I had trouble getting into this book, is because is starts off pretty slow and takes its time picking up. I didn't start get interested in what was going on until about halfway through. Towards the end it did manage to grab me somewhat, and some of the twists aren't bad, however.
I'm also noting that Reynolds' apparently has, instead of letting the story flow and progress in it's own manner, attempted to corral it where he wants it to go and was determined to shoehorn in specific elements. He even goes on to explain that he did exactly this in his acknowledgements at the end of the book. He explains (among other things related to the book), that he's a fan of African music and this has led him into a general interest in Africa. Which is why he chose the setting, why he was determined to work elephants into a prominent place within the story, and also the name of one of the main characters. Other than my general distaste with the imagery that produces, as I already mentioned, I find none of that bad. Its just that I feel authors do best when they work with the story instead of making it to go where they want it to go.
However, he failed to find a convincing way to tie elephants to the story, instead bringing them in as an element that wasn't really needed or deep. The breadcrumb mystery itself leads one of the central characters down a long path, however, the other is not entirely involved with it, and it basically skips to the end of the trail without connecting the two points. It left me with the feeling that the breadcrumb trail was not entirely necessary.
As I noted in my review of his book House of Suns, Reynolds is apparently trying his hand at mixing it up with other genres. Whole I applaud his attempts at branching out and being more diverse with his writing, he's not terribly good at it. At least not as it stands now. Maybe he'll get better at it. I like reading Reynolds because he does epic stuff very well. But he should keep his attempts at writing diversity to short stories or under a pen name until he gets a better feel for writing them.
Blue Remembered Earth is the first of the Poseidon's Children trilogy. The second book, On the Steel Breeze, was released late last year. The third book has yet to be released. For me I will be skipping back some of his older work before I start On the Steel Breeze. Next up is Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days which brings me back to his Revelation Space universe (an old favorite of mine).
The book is on order from B&N, so in the interlude before it comes in I will be reading and reviewing Sum: 40 Tales of the Afterlives. Sum is a very short book, about 100 pages in my Kindle app, and well worth reading (I've read it before, but what the hell? Once more for review).