On the Steel Breeze

Dull cover, cool book.
I’m reading a novel called On the Steel Breeze, by Alastair Reynolds. It came out quite a while ago, in 2013 Accordingto Wikipedia, and it is the sequel to his 2012 novel Blue Remembered Earth, but it can be read alone.

The novel’s main characters are two clones of Chiku Akinya. One clone remained on Earth, while the second embarked on a generation ship heading for the alien planet of Crucible, which is home to a mysterious structure known as the Mandala. One of the two clones faces a series of revelations after a strange accident kills hundreds aboard her generation ship, while the other is sent on a dangerous mission to Venus.

One of the outstanding features of any Reynolds novel are the ideas, and this book includes ideas such as machines being forced to evolve by being made to battle each other, and what it might mean to live in a society where every action is under surveillance. Every page has ideas like this just dripping from them, such as the false sky of the generation ship being incrementally adjusted to be the same of the target planet, because it has a smaller, cooler star that makes everything look slightly more orange. It’s in little details like these that the author’s previous life as an honest-to-goodness scientist really shine through.

I’m currently at page 232 of about 500, so roughly the half-way mark. I’m enjoying it immensely, though I have always had a soft spot for anything written by Reynolds. It has to be said that it's not on the level of a work like RevelationSpace, which comes up in the comments to a very positive review of On the Stell Breeze – that I completely agree with - at The WertZone.

Not everyone has had he same positive reaction to On the Steel Breeze however, so your mileage may vary. For example there is a page listing the sci-fi tropes present in the book that makes the book seem a lot less visionary than it really is. The book may be treading ground that has been trod before, but it is doing it from th point of view of a great writer, not a hack.

One of the things I like about Reynolds’ writing is how fearless he is in his choice of vocabulary. So far in the book I have come across the words gyre and interstice, and there are more lovely but unusual words besides.

As you can tel from this post, I’m a big sci-fi fan and I’ve written a few ripsnorting space operas myself, but my latest book is actually a zombie novel called Death Sense, a little bit of a departure for me.