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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Ack-Ack Macaque
Gareth L. Powell
Progress: 249/792 pages
V for Vendetta
David Lloyd, Alan Moore
Progress: 82/296 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 454/700 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 204/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
She Stoops to Conquer and Other Comedies (Oxford World's Classics)
Henry Fielding, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith
Progress: 256/448 pages
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages

On the Steel Breeze, Alastair Reynolds

On the Steel Breeze - Alastair Reynolds

Typical Reynolds: untypical Reynolds.


This novel follows on from Blue Remembered Earth, telling the tale of human space exploration through the history of the Akinya family. It could be read independently but it'll work better if you've read it's predecessor - and why wouldn't you? That was a superior piece of SF. This is, too!


Three colour-coded members of the Akinya family split up and go very separate ways -light years apart - yet they all end up embroiled in history-making adventures and they all end up influencing each other.


There are lots of Reynolds themes here; no FTL, body modification, grand scale in space and time, mysteries upon mysteries. There's very little trade-mark gothic grotequery, though - even less than in Blue Remembered Earth - and heavily disguised insofar as it's present at all. There are still some brutal acts, though - horrendous if you can actually grasp the scale of them, which is difficult.


Reynolds is rarely just telling a tale for its own sake though, and here, among other things, he's looking at humanity and war: is war so ingrained in human nature that the only way to prevent it is alter human nature itself? Is surveillance and external control that almost entirely eliminates violence worth the price of almost total loss of privacy? Themes tackled by numerous SF writers, past and present, maybe but they keep coming up because they don't ever seem to get less relevant, important, urgent.


There's a lot of wildlife in this book, which I had fun noting. See how many different species you can spot.


Blue Remembered Earth left a lot unexplained; you get a few answers here but over all more questions and a bigger cliff-hanger - there's a lot of people in a lot of jeopardy and some big adventures to come in the third volume of this series. I'm looking forward to it!