by Kim Stanley Robinson
Paperback: 672 pages
ISBN : 978-0316098113Plot Summary:
In the late 23rd and early 24th century, humanity has spread across the solar system and is remaking it. Mars has been terraformed, Venus and several gas giant moons are in the process of being terrformed, and thousands of asteroids have been hollowed out, spun up, and turned into habitats orbiting or traveling across the solar system. In this world lives Swan Er Hong, an inhabitant of the mobile city of Terminator, forever traveling just before the sunrise across the face of Mercury. When a series of suspicious accidents and deaths begin striking those around her, she sets out to find the reason why. In the process she uncovers plots and schemes that span the solar system and will shake civilization to its core.
For those who are familiar with Robinsion’s Mars Trilogy, the future described here is apparently an alternate history version of that one, with many of the same elements but a few minor differences. The main one seems to be that in this future, a great many more asteroid habitats have been created. Perhaps this future is set a bit further into the Mars Trilogy timeline.OA Relevance: Moderate to High
The future depicted by Robinson could easily be any of millions of solar systems in the OA universe, or a slightly altered depiction of Sol System in the Late Interplanetary Age. The main differences are that Robinson has Venus being terraformed and huge numbers of asteroid based space habs. His future is a bit more advanced than this period in the OA timeline, although OA has more advanced AI and biotechnology in this period.The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:
I really wanted to like this book. I really did. But I just couldn’t. Robinson has a very distinctive, and somewhat dry, writing style that can drag a bit, but in past books this was offset by the wonderful detail and the well developed characters who added sufficient richness to the story to make you willing to work through the dry bits. Here that richness is lacking. The characters are either two-dimensional or only semi-rational (the central character Swan Er Hong, seems to alternate between being a spoiled brat and a wild-eyed visionary eccentric, often for no apparent reason), a lot of stuff seems to happen for no reason, and the lovingly crafted details of the world Robinson is depicting often seem to take over the story and make it more about them then the actual story being told. For that matter, the story itself is vague and unclear and doesn’t seem to progress in any obvious way until suddenly rushing to wrap itself up at the end by just revealing everything in a series of ‘news clip like’ summaries.
Overall, by the end of the book, I was bored, frustrated, and thinking that the whole thing could have been so much better if only it were about a hundred pages shorter and we got to actually see the internal pov of the characters instead of reading about them almost like a script in a movie or something.Overall Rating:
If you think Kim Stanley Robinson is an author of god-like abilities and love everything he has ever written more than anything else, you may enjoy this book. If you don’t or haven’t read him before, I’d recommend rereading or picking up a copy of the Mars Trilogy as a better use of your time. Or doing practically anything else, actually.Table of Contents