Blue Remembered Earth is an odyssey that begins in the sun-washed terrains of Africa, and takes the reader to the imaginary vision of a colonized Moon and Mars, and even to underwater communities along the way. Geoffrey Akinya, a man who has spent his life studying and caring for elephants that live near the Akinya family homestead, finds out that his grandmother, Eunice, the iconic matriarch of his family, has died. Memphis, the elderly caretaker of his family who raised Geoffrey and his sister, Sunday, delivers the bad news along with Eunice’s ashes. This becomes the beginning of an adventure, when his mercenary cousins, Lucas and Hector, ask him to go to the moon and see what is in a safety deposit box belonging to Eunice. They fear that something in that box will compromise the interests of the Akinya Corporation and want to circumvent that possibility. Sending Geoffrey seems wise, since he is not directly involved in the family business. Geoffrey agrees when his cousins offer to fund his elephant research, not suspecting how much this act will change his life.
Since his sister lives on the Moon, Geoffrey involves her in his adventure, and she becomes his willing companion in a scavenger hunt threaded with breadcrumb-like clues from his grandmother. Like himself, Sunday has rejected the family business of engineering and space exploration and has instead forged a career as an artist on the Moon. One of her greatest creations is a construct of her deceased grandmother, a virtual computer simulation, which communicates with her and Geoffrey based on compiled memories of their grandmother. This construct seems to have a life of its own, and helps to guide them into finding the truth about their grandmother: that she may have discovered something vital to the exploration of the universe. But there are others who wish to gain control of the knowledge the Eunice has preserved for her grandchildren, and their trek for discovery does not come without risk.
Blue Remembered Earth is a sprawling science fiction story with a good dose of adventure, philosophy, and a strong underpinning of hard science. While it starts slowly, and I was not sure at first what Reynolds’ objective was, I eventually found myself very enthralled with this novel. Reynolds has a way of painting very vivid landscapes of what life would be in the 22nd Century, where scientific achievements are so advanced that humanity is able to reach far into the Galaxy, live comfortably on the Moon, and achieve a frontier-like existence on Mars.
The stretches of this author’s imagination are considerable. I appreciate that he uses real science to speculate what the future might bring for humankind, and the resulting dilemmas people of the future would face. Science allows them to achieve incredible feats, even manipulating humans to the point of turning them physically into other species, such as humans who can live under the ocean.
Equally strong is the bond of human connection, not always smooth and harmonic, as evidenced by the troubled relationships in the Akinya family.
Despite the strife, family bonds remain strong, and united by mutual goals, this is often what causes humans to want to reach for the stars, to better their own kind and provide opportunities for reaching their full potential.
While not a particularly quick read, Reynolds delivers a complex, fascinating science fiction novel with Blue Remembered Earth. I particularly enjoyed that Reynolds chooses to spotlight a multicultural cast, working from the perspective that Africa eventually became the reigning economic power in the world, and as such spearheaded most of the future space exploration. Readers who enjoy hard science fiction with a richly-textured view of humanity and its struggles will probably enjoy this book.
- Hardcover: 505 pages
- Publisher: Ace Hardcover; Book Club Edition edition (June 5, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0441020712
- ISBN-13: 978-0441020713
Books in the Poseidon’s Children series in the order they should be read:
Blue Remembered Earth