It took me a while to get around to buying this book. It then took me a while to bring it to the top of my virtual reading pile on my Kindle. It then took me a couple of attempts to get into it, which is unusual for me when it comes to Alastair Reynolds.
And to be fair to me, it is a bit of a slow burner – as the various threads of the story come together, it takes a while to really get going, for things to actually happen.
But once it does get started, it’s well up to what I’ve come to expect from Al Reynolds. There’s the usual moderately large cast, lots of misdirection, and indeed a mystery, though not of the “hold on is this a detective story” kind.
Set in a near future where Earth is recovering from the effects of climate change, and where Africa is an economic powerhouse, it revolves around members of the Akinya family – owners of a mind-bogglingly rich and powerful company with interests in space exploitation. The central figure is Geoffrey Akinya, who declines to get involved with the family business as he’s more interested in working with elephants. But he gets dragged into the story when he’s sent to recover the contents of a safety deposit box left by his recently dead grandmother Eunice.
And although she’s dead, Eunice is the focus of the story – partly because of a low-level AI simulations of her (“real” AI, known as artilects, are not allowed…), but mostly because she’s laid a complex trail that Geoffrey and his sister Sunday find themselves obliged to follow. And at the end of the trail is something that changes everything…
This is the first in a trilogy, and I waited so long to get around to it that the second volume, On the Steel Breeze, has been out for, err about a year. I’ve just bought it for my Kindle and I’ll try to get around to it before the last volume appears.