Book 1: Almost too much to absorb (3/5)
From September 15, 2011
The 9-page prologue of Seeds of Earth takes place on Mars when the Solar System is under attack by the Achorga Swarm. Plans have been made to launch fifteen arks to save humanity in case the Swarm prevails. The Swarm has been virulently persistent to only allow humanity to construct and launch three arks. Chapter One opens 150-years after the ark Hyperion has made landfall on the planet Darien. The mix of Scots, Scandinavians and Russians settle the hospitable planet and befriend a race of intelligent bipeds who inhabit the breathable atmosphere of moon.
Living in ignorance about the fate of the earth and the two other arks, the tiny outpost somewhat flourishes. Politics plays a big role in Book One, but not to the extent of what MacLeod includes in his novels (but you can bet they both emphasis the Scottish accent!). I'm not sure why a small outpost needs eight-story building with elevators. I ask the question: Did they strip the ark of the elevator of did they manufacture it? And if they stripped the ark, why did they put the elevator in something as unimportant as an apartment building? Much of the description of the infrastructure of the colony seems unrealistic for only be in operation for 150 years. The citizens also travel by dirigible. I'm getting sick of dirigibles.
Lemme see... only two of the cast have idiosyncrasies enough to be sympathetic with:
There's Kao Chih who's on a long, long journey from his domain (no plot spoiler here) and keeps running into difficulties including a menacing human, menacing pirates and menacing droids. Seems like deep space is a scary place to traverse... honest enough Kao Chih just keeps going in honor of his ancestors. However, one niggling detail remained: when the craft left its main port, it had six days of food for the two crew members. Later, it's quoted as having enough food for three months and nine days at quarter rations for one person. I can't massage those numbers!
Then there's Earthspace ambassador who carries around a virtual simulation of his dead daughter and plays chess with her, even when there's company around. Sounds kind of a disappointment to the government of Earth.
The writing style isn't as grandiose as Banks or as techy as Hamilton... it lays somewhere in between, but I much prefer the lengthy prose of Banks above all others. That said, Seeds of Earth doesn't have loquacious paragraphs like much of modern British Space Opera uses. The vocabulary isn't as challenging as Revelation Space or The Algebraist, but still maintains a certain sophistication. One more niggling point was the 3-time use of the word "concertaed" when describing the operation of a door (which fondly reminds me of Delanay's "the door dilated").
It's definitely NOT bad. It's just unfortunate the the trilogy has to start somewhere! Judging from the conclusion of Book One, I predict that books two and three will be at least 4-star reads. I've already bought Book Two and I've pre-ordered Book Three. How's that for eager!