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Poseidon's Wake by Alastair Reynolds
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Poseidon's Wake

by Alastair Reynolds

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Poseidon's Children (3)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
If there’s one thing that really annoys me, it’s when publishers completely redesign the covers of a trilogy for the last book. As Gollancz did for the Poseidon’s Children trilogy. Now the design for Poseidon’s Wake is a very attractive design, but it’s not the same as the two earlier books, Blue Remembered Earth and On the Steel Breeze. Argh. And after all that… Poseidon’s Wake proved a disappointing end to what had promised to be a good sf trilogy. The story picks up several decades after the events of On the Steel Breeze. the holoship Zanzibar is now just a belt of rocks orbiting Crucible, the settled planet orbiting 61 Virginis (I think). And then the world receives a message from Gliese 163, a star system some seventy light-years distant, which reads only “Send Ndege”, Ndege being the woman who was responsible for turning the Zanzibar into rubble by playing around with the Mandala and accidentally triggering it. So Crucible sends a mission to Gliese 163, which includes not Ndege but her daughter, Goma, and several others. En route, Goma’s uncle, Mposi, the head of the mission, is murdered, and the evidence points to a Second Chancer (ie, religious extremist) in the team. The ship arrives at Gliese 163 and discovers… that the three taken by the Watchkeepers are still alive – well, two of them are, Eunice Akinya and the uplifted elephant, or Tantor, Dakota – and Eunice was the source of the message. Because she’s fallen out with Dakota. Who now rules a colony of thousands of Tantors in Zanzibar, which was not apparently destroyed but sent on a near-lightspeed journey to Gliese 163. Oh, and there’s a waterworld superearth whose oceans is dotted with thousands of two-hundred-kilometre-diameter metal hoops, whose apexes are almost out of the atmosphere – and the world is protected by a belt of hundreds of artificial moons in complex orbits. This was all built by the Mandala-builders, and is perhaps a clue to their history and technology… so obviously everyone is keen to go and have a look at it. Including the Watchkeepers. But the moons will only let organic intelligences through… I remember enjoying Blue Remembered Earth and On the Steel Breeze (read in 2012 and 2014, respectively), but this was all a bit meh. The characters were mostly unlikeable, and it was hard to figure out if they were meant to be likeable. One character is set up as a possible murderer, but he’s paper-thin and not at all convincing. Even Dakota, the uplifted elephant – and since uplifted even further by the Watchkeepers – doesn’t really come across as an alien intelligence. The prose is sketchy, with very little description (except of planets and stars and suchlike), which I didn’t like. And the book’s big takeaway is that apparently the universe doesn’t offer meaning, life has no meaning – and I’m sorry and everything, but I pretty much figured that out when I was about eight years old. There’s an interesting discussion about intelligence without consciousness, made in reference to the Watchkeepers, who apparently are no longer conscious. Because a feed-forward intelligence is not conscious, and a feedback intelligence, given enough resources, can simulate a feed-forward intelligence… except if A is superior to B, why use more resources to simulate B than A requires? It is, in somewhat apposite words, completely illogical. I didn’t take to Poseidon’s Wake, but no doubt others will. ( )
  iansales | Feb 28, 2017 |
Started out well, but became a bit disjointed towards the end as Reynolds obviously realised it was already too long, but hadn't yet tied all the threads up. Personally I'd have created a fourth book rather than rushing everything into the end of this one. Really would have benefited from a recent re-read of the preceding two novels as the complexities of the Aikima family history are not re-explained, or easily recalled.

We are now a few generations down the tree from the original exploits of Eunice and her grandchildren. Their great-grandchildren ( I think) are livign with the intelligent elephants on the world of Crucible, still marked by the alien Mandela. A clear text, light constant message arrives ' bring Negele' - who is their elderly mother, in no fit state for the rigours of spacetravel and sleepover. The message has come from an otherwise insignificant star some 70 light-years away. That it's in Swahili, suggests a human aware sender, but littel otehr details can be gathered. Surprisingly few political machinations take place and an an expedition is launched, no generational ship, merely 50 odd crew in sleep caskets.

Meanwhile one of the older relatives in another branch is Kanu, currently ambassador for the Evolvarium machine intelligences on Mars. However there remain groups of humans who object to the current treaty and wish to free/conquer their former colony. Kanu gets caught up in such an incident, which ultimately leads him to becoming aware of the message to Crucible, and another actor in the drama that unfolds at the destination.

While the science remains at Reynolds' ever impeccable levels, sadly the story telling falls slightly sub-par on this one. The strands don't weave effortlessly together, but are pulled vigorously into a specific shape, and the reader feels it. Choppy sequence changes from Goma to kanu and back, contrived circumstances, ridiculously complicit timing events, and then characters and themes abandoned once they'd served a minor point. A fairly prolonged philosophical info-dump formed the 'conclusion', of the plot events. I'm really not sure that an SF novel was the place for this, whilst to a degree commentary on social themes should be present, this was hardly subtle. Alien maths proves there is no god, but you don't have to suffer the nihilism of despair, for a single act of human kindness refutes this. And having all of characters then completely change their personalities wasn't very convincing. An extended epilogue didn't really help, even if it did rush together the remaining strands.

The trilogy is nominally closed at this point, but the future of the Risen leaves space for more novels in the universe, and I suspect there is a lot more ground to be covered. ( )
  reading_fox | Nov 29, 2016 |
A solid close for a neat space opera... ( )
  AlanPoulter | Nov 15, 2016 |
Get to the point, Alastair. You're dragging this series on too long now. ( )
  liamjdavison | Oct 20, 2016 |
A brilliantly satisfying ending to the trilogy. Just need to say Elephants in Space once again! ( )
  Bernadette877 | Jul 1, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alastair Reynoldsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harman, DominicCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I have come to the borders of sleep,

The unfathomable deep

Forest where all must lose

Their way, however straight.

- Edward Thomas
Dedication
For my wife, who once fell in love with an elephant.
First words
Early one evening, Mposi Akinya went to visit his sister.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575090499, Hardcover)

This novel is a stand-alone story which takes two extraordinary characters and follows them as they, independently, begin to unravel some of the greatest mysteries of our universe. Their missions are dangerous, and they are all venturing into the unknown ...and if they can uncover the secret to faster-than-light travel then new worlds will be at our fingertips. But innovation and progress are not always embraced by everyone. There is a saboteur at work. Different factions disagree about the best way to move forward. And the mysterious Watchkeepers are ever-present. Completing the informal trilogy which began with BLUE REMEMBERED EARTH and ON THE STEEL BREEZE, this is a powerful and effective story.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:03 -0400)

This novel is a stand-alone story which takes two extraordinary characters and follows them as they, independently, begin to unravel some of the greatest mysteries of our universe. Their missions are dangerous, and they are all venturing into the unknown - and if they can uncover the secret to faster-than-light travel then new worlds will be at our fingertips. But innovation and progress are not always embraced by everyone. There is a saboteur at work. Different factions disagree about the best way to move forward. And the mysterious Watchkeepers are always watching… (more)

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