Wednesday, November 06, 2013

"On The Steel Breeze" - Alastair Reynolds

'On The Steel Breeze' is the second volume of Alastair Reynolds' planned trilogy Poseidon's Children (the first volume was the somewhat meandering and confusing 'Blue Remembered Earth' which I discussed here).

Here's part of the review from scifiempire.
On The Steel Breeze’ deals with three of the great-grandchildren of Eunice Akinya, the never seen but always present grand-mother of the two main protagonists Geoffrey and Sunday Akinya from Blue Remembered Earth. These three great-grandchildren are in fact clones of one called Chiku Akinya.

The clones are color coordinated, so you have Chiku Green, Chiku Yellow and Chiku Red. The latter got killed trying to save Eunice. Death must be interpreted relativistic as she still manages to influence the story. And so the two remaining clones set out to get the answers about life and everything that always seems to be a background theme of Alastair Reynolds.

Whereas ‘Blue Remembered Earth’ sometime has problems with characters performing actions that were illogical, or seemingly without purpose, this novel does it better. Each character is enriched with their own belief system and most importantly a personal politics that guide their every action and thought.
Reynolds has a talent for unobtrusively creating a densely imagined - one might even say anticipated - world. The central idea of OTSB is that the solar-system-wide computer system which runs civilization has been taken over by an AI which has itself been sequestered by signals from an alien machine intelligence. An epic battle for survival between organic and machine intelligences is about to play out, both at home and at the planet 18 light years out (called Crucible) where the alien machine systems hang out.

The novel is quite a page-turner, ending in multiple cliff-hangers. Many of the characters are less than endearing and the clone-heroines, the Chikus, are an irritating mix of smug moral superiority and inflexible pacifism. In real life this tends not to work too well, but the plot has been tweaked so that the expected bad things don't get to happen. Hmm.

Roll on volume 3.

Ten days ago a great storm lashed southern England and duly detached a single tile about a third the way up our steep roof, right at the front cement-edge. By some miracle the falling tile shattered on the driveway, missing the glass roof of the car port and the parked car. You'd think a quick climb up a long ladder and a bit of adhesive on a replacement tile would fix it, but what do I know?

Professional roofers have outlined a cascading sequence of problems.
  • The edge-tiles are light and experience wind-load, so the job should not be bodged. 
  • Insertion of a new tile will crack the one higher up unless that is also lifted: this domino effect extends for several metres.
  • Adjusting this set of tiles will require the removal and replacement of the edge-cement bedding, the cement verge. Actually due to age-deterioration it all needs replacement. (See here for more).
  • Scaffolding of some height is required for access. 
  • Our tree may need to be pruned back to get the scaffolding in.
Does any of this sound cheap?

The insurance assessor comes round tomorrow morning.