Review No.137 – On the Steel Breeze

On the Steel Breeze – Alastair Reynolds (Poseidon’s Children No.2)

Gollancz, 2013

Through space the holoships are drifting, vast asteroids transformed into temporary worlds, each home to a population of millions and all set on the same course: to Crucible, the promised planet where an ancient monument to alien artifice beckons them on like a siren call to human curiosity. Dramatic advances in both spacecraft technology and life prolongation have put such a journey within the reach of a single human life, but Chiku Akinya has an advantage over her fellow passengers. She has three lives; three selves, the sisters of a groundbreaking experiment in cloning. It is through their united efforts that the truth is unearthed – Crucible is not what they have been led to believe. And it’s already too late to turn back…

This second novel of the Akinya dynasty picks up more than two centuries after the end of Blue Remembered Earth, following the variations of Chiku Akinya through a time of revolutionary social, political and personal change. This is a book with extraordinary scope and imagination,  combining huge concepts with recognisably human protagonists, and all the flaws, quirks and emotions that entails. It’s really wonderful to see a version of the future that is not predominantly straight, white and male; also, a version of Earth that is neither impossibly utopian or apocalyptically disastrous. This is the second book in the Poseidon’s Children series and I’m very much hoping for more.

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