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Poseidon's Wake

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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.


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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.

30 review for Poseidon's Wake

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Reynolds continues to amaze. I remembered Blue Remembered Earth very fondly and this third book, taking place several hundred years after the events taking place there, captures more than just the spirit, but gives us one hell of an adventure among the stars. Best points? The Watchmakers, a race of sublime intelligences that went too far and are no longer fully conscious. :) The uplifted elephants. :) The sheer scope of the adventure, discovery, horror, and amazing courage. :) This is Reynolds. Ne Reynolds continues to amaze. I remembered Blue Remembered Earth very fondly and this third book, taking place several hundred years after the events taking place there, captures more than just the spirit, but gives us one hell of an adventure among the stars. Best points? The Watchmakers, a race of sublime intelligences that went too far and are no longer fully conscious. :) The uplifted elephants. :) The sheer scope of the adventure, discovery, horror, and amazing courage. :) This is Reynolds. Never doubt it. His world building and tech are some of the very, very best in Hard-SF. These characters, in particular, are also some of his most interesting and well developed. From the Savanna to the oceanic human-mods to the Mars takeover of machine intelligences to deep space exploration, the settings prove to be more than good spice for the treat that is his characters. ELEPHANTS IN SPACE!!! And let me make one caveat, here. This is not Barsk. Barsk came out 4 years after Blue Remembered Earth and one year after this third book. :) And I Reynolds's tales better. :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    very disappointing trilogy overall; good first book, mediocre second, fairly unreadable third (read first 50 or so pages, last 25 or so and in between and nothing hooked me, not to speak of being connected tightly with the earlier books despite the original plan of taking place at large intervals which didn't help at all as once book 2 disappointed me, almost guaranteed this one would go on the "tried but didn't care about" list, though I really, really wanted to like it - also the ending read v very disappointing trilogy overall; good first book, mediocre second, fairly unreadable third (read first 50 or so pages, last 25 or so and in between and nothing hooked me, not to speak of being connected tightly with the earlier books despite the original plan of taking place at large intervals which didn't help at all as once book 2 disappointed me, almost guaranteed this one would go on the "tried but didn't care about" list, though I really, really wanted to like it - also the ending read very unlike Reynolds and the book was full of cliches in the pages I read)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tudor Ciocarlie

    Not as good as the Revelation Series, but I've loved the way Alastair Reynolds imagined the birth of a galactic civilization. This trilogy brought me great joy, food for thought and optimism for the future of humanity. Not as good as the Revelation Series, but I've loved the way Alastair Reynolds imagined the birth of a galactic civilization. This trilogy brought me great joy, food for thought and optimism for the future of humanity.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    *Copy received from Netgalley in exchange for a review* Alastair Reynolds is known as an author with big ideas. From human modification, to techno-plagues, mega-crises to mega-structures, his writing has always contained big ideas. To get it out of the way, this book is no exception. The narrative explores the journey of several scions of the Akinya family, who figured heavily in the previous two books in the same universe. Reynolds has done something clever here – setting each novel with protagon *Copy received from Netgalley in exchange for a review* Alastair Reynolds is known as an author with big ideas. From human modification, to techno-plagues, mega-crises to mega-structures, his writing has always contained big ideas. To get it out of the way, this book is no exception. The narrative explores the journey of several scions of the Akinya family, who figured heavily in the previous two books in the same universe. Reynolds has done something clever here – setting each novel with protagonists from a new generation of the same family allows the reader to track societal changes, see shifts in viewpoints at the macro level as well as the personal, whilst retaining reader investment in the individual. In this particular case, we’re given two initial strands to follow; one on Mars, the home of human ambassador’s to the human-created AI civilisation now present there, and another on Crucible – a human colony, home to the mysterious artefact ‘’The Mandala”, as well as the remnants of a tribe of uplifted, intelligent elephants. Not to give the game away, but these two locations may act as the springboard for the rest of the text, but things do quite quickly change. The Elephants, incidentally, are another key thread running through the series – their interactions with humanity showing the way in which we interact with other living beings unlike ourselves, even as the AI on Mars act as a mirror of how we might act when faced with a machine which is also, in some (or perhaps all) senses, alive. The characters are a key facet of this novel. I’ve criticised Reynolds before for having characters that seemed to act more like generators of interesting conversations than actual people; he’s done quite a lot to redress the balance here. The Akinya’s, their various friends, loves, and losses, have become quite believable over three books, and Reynolds has managed to avoid getting into the depths of technical exposition at the expense of character growth. Instead we get quite a lot of dialogue trying to build relationships around the characters, and more emotional reflection than might have been visible in earlier work. There’s still a few awkward flashes, emotional responses and intensities which didn’t quite ring true, but the characters do feel a great deal like people. Worth noting that this is technically a standalone in a shared universe; honestly, I wouldn’t try and read it without having read the other two books first to provide some context. It looks like it would be possible, but a great deal of the text, especially the initial setup, draws on events from the other two books, and the universe of the narrative is much richer, and far less confusing, if you come to this as a conclusion to a multi-generational saga, rather than on its own. The text is full to bursting with answers to interesting questions, ranging from the philosophical - how do we act in a universe where we’re not alone? How might we interact with artefacts from a civilisation aeons older than our own? To the philosophical – how do we define humanity? If we were told the ultimate truth of the universe, how might we react? Who are we, really, as a species, as individuals? The narrative approaches all of these questions unflinchingly, and does its best to provide an answer to them. In that respect, it’s a typical Reynolds book, and if you want to explore these questions, and their answers, within a well realised sci-fi universe, with plausible characters and a decent narrative, then this book is worth picking up.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    The epic saga of Akinya family reached the end. Not a definite ending, from my point of view; it could easily have more adventures written from this point. But it definitely has a closure. There were moments when I thought that I will not give it five stars because of too many conversations between the characters and I rather prefer world building and introspection. But I just can’t not give it the maximum rating: Al R created a marvelous universe, full of hopes even if verging on futility. Betwee The epic saga of Akinya family reached the end. Not a definite ending, from my point of view; it could easily have more adventures written from this point. But it definitely has a closure. There were moments when I thought that I will not give it five stars because of too many conversations between the characters and I rather prefer world building and introspection. But I just can’t not give it the maximum rating: Al R created a marvelous universe, full of hopes even if verging on futility. Between the adventures in deep space, there are also real themes approached: > discrimination: ‘But you and I saw a better path, Kanu! Reconciliation, cooperation – the sharing of resources and knowledge. We are here precisely because we believe in something better, something bolder. An answer to the oldest question – how do I get along with my neighbours, even if they are not the same as me?’ > philosophy/science: ‘I cannot accept a purposeless universe. Science is a wonderful edifice of knowledge, beautiful in its self-consistency. But it cannot simply be the means to its own end. Nor is it an accident that mathematics is supremely efficient at describing the play of matter, energy and force in our universe. They fit together like hand in glove – and that cannot be coincidence. Our minds have been given science for a reason, Goma – to guide us as we progress towards an understanding of the true purpose of our own existence.’ > survival: ’We’ll come – no matter how long it takes. We won’t rest until we’ve found you.’ ‘None of us shall,’ Dakota said. ‘But answer me this, Kanu – who is this “we” you speak of?’ ‘Whatever we make of ourselves, Dakota. Humans, merfolk. Tantors. Machines. Whatever we manage to salvage from this. We’re all orphans of the storm now, all Poseidon’s children. We either find a way to live with what we are, with all our differences, or we face oblivion. I know which I’d rather.’ All spiced with a bit of humor from time to time: ‘Worms!’ ‘Mealworms,’ their host corrected. ‘Very tasty. Very good source of protein. Practically all we ate on Mars in the early days. You should try them. Go well with a little curry powder – stops them wriggling off your chopsticks, too.’ I hold in high regard how he made elephants (but it could have been any other animal) the equals of humans and by that he raised awareness about their unique features, feelings and possible extinction. And even if I like more the Revelation Space universe, I cannot but respect the versatility of his writing style, because this trilogy has nothing in common with his other works, other than being sci-fi and taking place mostly in space. He really is one of the greatest sci-fi writers ever and my favorite. And if you want a glimpse in how wonderful he is with words, I’ll leave you with one fragment that kept me awake the night I read it: ‘They? Us. What are we? What were we? […] Life is short, against all the mute measures of the cosmos. A star barely draws breath. A world turns around that star a hundred times. The galaxy is frozen in an instant of its turning, like a jammed clock. A life begins, a life ends – nothing changes. The clock unjams itself for one vast, godlike tick and a billion souls know their fierce, fast moment in the light. Until the clock jams again. Until the next tick. And yet . . . We are more than the sum of all those short seconds that make up our span. We learn, we give, we love, we are loved. We stir ripples into the wider fabric of social discourse. We are in turn moved by the ripples of other lives. We open books and know the thoughts of those who have lived before us – the hopes and sorrows and golden joys of earlier lives. They move us to laughter or to tears. Their days are over, but in the marks they have left behind their lives continue to resonate. In that sense, their days are limitless. They have lived again, in us. So it is with all our deeds, all our acts of cleverness and stupidity. Our wars and inventions, our stories and our songs. The houses we make, the worlds we change, the truths we unearth. We end, we conclude, but our deeds continue. In this continuation, a retrospective meaning is shed onto every living moment. There is a point to love, if love itself is remembered. There is a point to the creation of beauty, because beauty will endure. All words, all thoughts, have a chance of transcending death and time. There is no heaven or hell, no afterlife, no divine creator, no great will behind the universe, no meaning beyond that revealed by our senses and our intellects. This is a hard thing to accept. Yet there is still a point to being alive, and that makes the acceptance bearable. But the universe withholds even this bleak consolation. Within its deepest structure, written like a curse into the very mathematics out of which it is forged, the universe contains a suicidal imperative. Vacuum itself is poised in an unstable condition. Given time – and the one certainty is that there will always be time – the vacuum instability will tip the universe into a new state of being. In that instant of un-creation, all information encoded in the present universe will be erased. No memory of anything will endure. No single experience of any living organism will be preserved. Nothing learned or discovered or made will survive. No art, no science, no history, no deed, no kindness, no fond thought, not a single moment of human happiness. Nothing will last. Nothing will matter. Nothing has ever mattered.’

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Alastair Reynolds is one of my favorite sci-fi authors, but his quality is uneven. House of suns is one of the best sci-fi books ever, terminal worlds is very mediocre. The first two revelation space books were great, the last one not very. In keeping with this tradition, the quality of the Poseidon's Children books were trending upward, but the final book ends up being much closer in quality to terminal worlds. There are a variety of reasons for this. The constant paean to elephants is simply t Alastair Reynolds is one of my favorite sci-fi authors, but his quality is uneven. House of suns is one of the best sci-fi books ever, terminal worlds is very mediocre. The first two revelation space books were great, the last one not very. In keeping with this tradition, the quality of the Poseidon's Children books were trending upward, but the final book ends up being much closer in quality to terminal worlds. There are a variety of reasons for this. The constant paean to elephants is simply tiresome, and serves poorly as a motivation for people to attempt to cross interstellar space, start assassination plots, or form romances. Babar did the talking elephant thing much better. The pervasive political correctness is self indulgent and irritating. After the main characters fail to escape a planet's gravity well(again, they could have done it, they just didnt want to subject some talking elephants to high Gs), the plot starts to feel predictable and padded just to lengthen the book. The main thrust of the novel is over about halfway though, once the characters figure out the Deus Ex Machina of the series. I gave the book two stars instead of one, because the author suddenly attempts to turn the series into a discussion of existential anguish. It turns out that the super advanced aliens instigated everything in an attempt to deal with the fact that they discovered existence is finite. Personally, I dont subscribe to this view, but I think its interesting to read the works of those who do from time to time. I dont think Reynolds gives a very convincing argument for those views here, but it was an interesting twist, and it gave the characters something to argue about other than which of the them loves talking elephants more. Pass on this series is my advice.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    "I will make dung, then you will assist me with the suit and the airlock" I should start by saying that I am a huge Alastair Reynolds fan. The Revelation Space books are some of the most haunting, well written and engaging stories I've ever read. Literally years later, I still vividly recall many scenes from them. My appreciation of his novels and short stories has only grown with each new reading (including the non Revelations space books as well!) That is, up until this series and this book in "I will make dung, then you will assist me with the suit and the airlock" I should start by saying that I am a huge Alastair Reynolds fan. The Revelation Space books are some of the most haunting, well written and engaging stories I've ever read. Literally years later, I still vividly recall many scenes from them. My appreciation of his novels and short stories has only grown with each new reading (including the non Revelations space books as well!) That is, up until this series and this book in particular. On the Steel Breeze left some unsolved mysteries that Poseidon's Wake was presumably supposed to answer. Which it does, up to a point. Unfortunately the main story is completely drowned out by padded, cheesy, superfluous dialog that totally ruins the flow of the paragraph (e.g. the quote at the top of this review) and anti-climactic chase scenes with a few random deaths thrown in for good measure. Approximately 90% of the book is nothing more than humans and talking elephants sharing their feelings with each other. Riveting. The remaining 10% dealing with the Watchkeeper's and the Mandala artifacts are basically randomly interspersed between the ongoing interspecies soap opera. Mostly when Eunice (who's now human, by the way) has some bright, random insight into their nature. Put simply, this is one of the worst SF books I have ever read and it probably never should have been written.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Mcconnochie

    I have really tried with this trilogy but enough is enough, I can't do it anymore. The first book was quite good, the second was terrible and the third makes me want to curl up in a ball and die. I have really tried with this trilogy but enough is enough, I can't do it anymore. The first book was quite good, the second was terrible and the third makes me want to curl up in a ball and die.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Flow In

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I feel bad writing a negative review. I've been a fan of Alastair for a long time. This book is less a space opera and more a laboured bit of philosophy. Philosophy wrapped up in sci-fi isn't always a bad thing, if it is done well. In this case, we are subjected to: Bad writing style. Word usage, for example. "Boisterous". Not a common word, and so one you don't expect to find repeated within the first twenty minutes. It was amusing the first time, jarring the second. Perhaps because the scenes we I feel bad writing a negative review. I've been a fan of Alastair for a long time. This book is less a space opera and more a laboured bit of philosophy. Philosophy wrapped up in sci-fi isn't always a bad thing, if it is done well. In this case, we are subjected to: Bad writing style. Word usage, for example. "Boisterous". Not a common word, and so one you don't expect to find repeated within the first twenty minutes. It was amusing the first time, jarring the second. Perhaps because the scenes were so different, but the use of the word tied them together in an awkward way? On top of that, Alastair has protagonists repeat phrases almost verbatim. Is it deliberate? Are those thrice or more uttered muses critical to the plot? I think not. I think, perhaps, it is simply rushed writing and lazy proof reading. which leads us to... The belaboured issue, that of inscrutable machine godlets being 'empty' because they've passed some theoretical point of 'forward processing' that has left them without consciousness. What a let down. Of all the places the the enigmatic blue beasties could have gone, that was sureley the emptiest. I'm not even sure the idea has legs. Apparently we are supposed to believe that linear processing (and the associated unfeasible power requirements) are a valid progression for an AI. Given that google currently has D-Wave qbit based processing coming on line, which defeats the basis for that idea by being quantum in nature, i'm not buying it. As soon as Alastair raised the 'limit' the first time, the problems jumped to awareness, and they coalesced at each repetition. THe idea may have been a consideration back in the 1970's (and how strange that these future peoples are obsessed by 20th century ideas), but it makes no sense in the context of modern understanding. We have proof of macroscopic quantum superpositions in brain structures, so what AI would bother modelling that process using billions of linear processes when they can just utilise their own quantum systems? Sure, Sci-fi is about the suspension of disbelief, but to be so obviously dated at publication is sad. I'll accept fancy spinning sampling systems (as the picture of one approaching is cool). I'll accept 'skipover' and chiming (at a stretch). I'll even go with AIs hiding in the patterns in neural activity (for the sake of a good tale) but i'm not going to buy such a self-defeating limitation. Moving on. Boring talking heads. So this is a philosophy book. Characters need to espouse the ideas Alastair is exploring. But do they have to be so BORING? We have a post human diplomat, seeing the positive in everyone. A machiavellian elephant, driven by the aforementioned soulless machine godlets. A resurrected grumpy AI and a bunch of tedious supporting roles who flimmy flam about with paper thin motivations and endless, endless, self justifications and incomprehensible stances, followed by rapid changes of personality. The sci-fi part is tedious, strapped around the yammering bores almost as an afterthought. There were a few good moments. Maybe three or four. Before we headed to Europa, the sol system thread of the tale was great. Then it lost its way in a weird murder mystery that was simply filler, lots of people being arses to each other whilst allowing self righteous (and tonally indistinguishable) cutouts to drone on, before coming to the crux of the novel... The 'Terror". I'm not sure what is extra special about knowing that life is void of purpose, and that we are all going to die. Whether it is a speeding train, old age or a vacuum fluctuation, all of us have to deal with our own mortality at some point. Here, Alastair projects the concept into what appears, superficially, to be an epic scale. Our vast and vanished M-builders, long departed creators of logic problems and deadly toys, discover that the universe might end one day. Unexpectedly. Apparently it is a big deal. I think i was 15 when i first ran into existential, nihilist angst. Some german philosopher blathers on about it at length too. At any rate, the scale of the tale rapidly collapsed when the true horror of the mystery Alastair had been hinting at was revealed. My reaction was "Oh, is that all?". At this point I have to confess I didn't actually finish the book. I got maybe 8/10ths of the way through. Our stalwart heroes were swimming towards giant rings revolving through the sea, otherwise known as plot device, one of many. I realised that i truly didn't care what happened next. The novel had been crashing hard, both from Blue Remembered Earth, and also from its own lofty beginning. Oh, how i missed our merman, from when he was three dimensional. Whatever cleverness Alastair had to justify the morass i'd slogged though simply wouldn't be enough to rescue the book. Like most of us, i've faced the void and my own inevitable end and i'm perfectly happy with what I brought back from that, so what could Alastair offer? If the rest of the book had been stunning, then sure, i'd go along for the ride. With the dismal prelude. Nope, This is one of the very rare times when i shut the book and put it aside, never to open again. Please, Alastair, don't destroy your awesome legacy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carbonbased Bookworm

    ‘Do you believe it?’ Goma asked. ‘Of course I believe it. Physics doesn’t give a damn about how we feel. It doesn’t give a damn about us sleeping soundly in our beds, thinking we matter.’

  11. 5 out of 5

    Krispijn

    It's hit ("House Of Suns", "Diamond Dogs") and miss ("Century Rain") with Mr. Reynolds and unfortunately "Poseidon's Wake" may be his worst novel yet. If I were to summarize this book in one word, it would be "unnecessary". As Reynolds is one of my favorite authors, I feel obligated to explain my 1-star rating. But where do I even start? There is so much wrong with this book. Let's start with the ideas pitched in this book. Let me address the literal elephant in the room first. Uplifted elephants It's hit ("House Of Suns", "Diamond Dogs") and miss ("Century Rain") with Mr. Reynolds and unfortunately "Poseidon's Wake" may be his worst novel yet. If I were to summarize this book in one word, it would be "unnecessary". As Reynolds is one of my favorite authors, I feel obligated to explain my 1-star rating. But where do I even start? There is so much wrong with this book. Let's start with the ideas pitched in this book. Let me address the literal elephant in the room first. Uplifted elephants... I don't even. I had hoped we'd seen the last of them in "On The Steele Breeze", but they are back, more intelligent than before. The elephants proved to be a good explanation for Geoffrey's reluctance to participate in the family business; a detail, but vital to fleshing out his character. But using them as a main device for explaining why people venture into space and risk their wellbeing and that of their loved ones is simply silly. Silly. And silly is not something you base your book on. Yes, you have made dung, mr. author. I will leave it at that. Many of the other plot devices aren't exactly novel; actually this book has a severe lack of new ideas. Anyone who has played "Mass Effect" will instantly be able to substitute "Mandala structure" with "Mass Relay" or "Watchkeeper" with "Reaper" (though in all fairness the Watchkeepers were already introduced in the first book). Not to mention the water world "Poseidon" and it's biomass islands seem to be taken from his own books in all but name ("Juggler world" anyone?). But concepts aren't all that make a good book. Good story telling and character development make a scifi novel enjoyable even if the ideas aren't mind bending. Unfortunately, Poseidon's Wake lacks in this department as well. The protagonists' personalities are almost as flat as cardboard; making me actually loath some of them. I am looking at you Ru and Goma! While that may be all well and good if the writer intends to make a despicable character, this was clearly not the intended goal with these two. It should come as no surprise that the way the characters' relationships develop are very hard to relate to. Also, this thing goes on and on. I feel that at least 25% of this book is fluff, just stating the obvious or repeating things already explained. You would almost think the author had a contract to deliver a trilogy with a minimum number of words and after the second book he was running behind schedule. Looking at the quality of the books, this trilogy is remarkably like The Matrix film trilogy. The first one, "Blue Remembered Earth", is refreshing: introducing a novel, African based, take on the genre. With some reservations, the second one, "On The Steele Breeze", was a solid continuation of the series. The third one, this book, is so bad, it should never have been released in the first place.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    What I expected: I have already read the first two stories in the series and really enjoyed them, I have been eagerly awaiting the third.  When I originally requested the e-ARC copy I hadn't realised that this was the third book, so I was really looking forward to reading this. I expected it to continue in the advanced future, tracking the legacy of the Akinya family, left by Eunice, and including the development of Geoffrey's beloved elephants. The previous two books were not strictly linked in t What I expected: I have already read the first two stories in the series and really enjoyed them, I have been eagerly awaiting the third.  When I originally requested the e-ARC copy I hadn't realised that this was the third book, so I was really looking forward to reading this. I expected it to continue in the advanced future, tracking the legacy of the Akinya family, left by Eunice, and including the development of Geoffrey's beloved elephants. The previous two books were not strictly linked in the normal sense where the same characters continue the story, which didn't detract from the tale for me. I expected this story to be equally different, but still reference Eunice and the elephants, perhaps. And I believed Eunice might still have a trick or two up her sleeve as well! What it was: A thoroughly comprehensive follow-up to the first two books. I would most definitely recommend that readers do read the other two books first to give context and a sense of time and place to this story.  Having said that it would be entirely possible to read it as a stand-alone, if you really wanted. The story tracks Kanu Akinya and Goma Akinya, along with their companions, on their separate journeys from their lives on Mars and Crucible respectively. The elephants, or Tantors as they are known following their enhancement, make an early appearance in the book, hooray. A summoning message is received from Gliese 163 and the journey begins of the various parties, across space and in time. The tale is a long and twisting one, that I have no intention of spoiling for others by recounting. I thoroughly enjoyed it, I like the scientific aspect of Alastair Reynolds' books even if I don't always grasp the technological ideas. I like the idea that humanity could have it in it to reach out and travel the universe. The characters had a realism to them, even the non-humans, that made the reading more compelling! Not everyone is who you think they are (as with many a tale). And I enjoyed visiting the Akinya family again, following the activities of the descendants and their links with the Tantors. Also, Eunice did not disappoint me! I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley. 5/5 Stars Official description:- 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rushi

    Poseidon's Wake is the third volume in the Poseidon's Children series by Alastair Reynolds. The events of this book are set a few centuries in the future from the second book - On The Steel Breeze. The main protagonists are still part of the Akinya clan. We find Mpozi, Goma and Ndege on Crucible and Kanu in the Solar System. The book explores the results of the arrival of the Watchkeepers and the aftermath of the Mandala event at the conclusion of "Steel Breeze". Let me be honest - I found the bo Poseidon's Wake is the third volume in the Poseidon's Children series by Alastair Reynolds. The events of this book are set a few centuries in the future from the second book - On The Steel Breeze. The main protagonists are still part of the Akinya clan. We find Mpozi, Goma and Ndege on Crucible and Kanu in the Solar System. The book explores the results of the arrival of the Watchkeepers and the aftermath of the Mandala event at the conclusion of "Steel Breeze". Let me be honest - I found the book hard going, yet worthy of the four stars I have given it. There are long passages meditating on the meaning of life and the role of belief. Stay well clear if you are looking for action scenes or military science fiction. This is very much in the vein of Existence by David Brin. We have a McGuffin - vast alien artefacts on the planet Poseidon. The plot revolves around separate expeditions from the Solar System and from Crucible to the hitherto unvisited system following the receipt of a mysterious transmission. Along the way, we find the machine civilisation explored in the first two books, we find super intelligent elephants as well as inscrutable aliens. Reading this reminded me of Rendezvous with Rama - it has the similar mix of hard science fiction as well the plot point of humans trying to figure out the motivations of an unknowable alien. It is a fitting conclusion to the series and a book that has stayed with me more than I expected it to. SIDENOTE - There is one thing I never figured out about these books. Where are the White people? We have a future where all the conversation happens in Swahili, or Mandarin or Portugese - but no English. We have characters that are of different ethnicities, but no WASPS. Whats up with that?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Outstanding. Everything I want from science fiction and more. Including elephants! Loved every single page.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tomislav

    Poseidon’s Wake (2015) is the final novel of Alastair Reynolds’ space opera trilogy Poseidon’s Children. It comes after Blue Remembered Earth (2012) and On the Steel Breeze (2013) - and is NOT set in his Revelation Space universe. While each of these lengthy novels ends with a plot conclusion, the backstory continues across subsequent generations of the same Akinya family, and conclusions to the some of the backstory are in this volume. So, I recommend reading in order, rather than this one as a Poseidon’s Wake (2015) is the final novel of Alastair Reynolds’ space opera trilogy Poseidon’s Children. It comes after Blue Remembered Earth (2012) and On the Steel Breeze (2013) - and is NOT set in his Revelation Space universe. While each of these lengthy novels ends with a plot conclusion, the backstory continues across subsequent generations of the same Akinya family, and conclusions to the some of the backstory are in this volume. So, I recommend reading in order, rather than this one as a stand-alone. Reynolds has room for a fourth novel in this same universe, since his space opera formulation is essentially endless, but in the past six years has not written one. If you have not read the earlier novels, you might want to avoid my further review of this one. The future history common to all three novels is based on an Earth that has survived “the bottleneck,” a 21st century climate-driven and war-driven dieback of humanity, from which the surviving populations climbed back to a solar-system-wide civilization. In volumes 1 and 2, humanity has detected artifacts of alien intelligence in the universe, has genetically lifted the intelligence of elephants, advanced out of the Solar System using huge relativistic colony ships to the planet of Crucible, and encountered two alien forms of intelligence. The Watchkeepers are an elusive high-technology observational and sometimes interfering presence around Crucible. The M-builders were an ancient and now absent intelligence, whose enormous artifact on Crucible is not understood. At the onset of the novel, a message has been received from deep space, and a mission sets out from Crucible to its origin somewhere near the water-world of Poseidon orbiting Gliese 163. The lead character of Poseidon’s Children is Goma Akinya, granddaughter of Chiku Green from On The Steel Breeze, living on Crucible. In addition, the story follows Kanu Akinya, son of Chiku Yellow, who himself appeared in On The Steel Breeze as a merman, born on Earth and living on Mars. I struggled to find empathy with and to distinguish between the characters as Reynolds moved them around like chess pieces through wide-ranging and mind-expanding transformations in their centuries-long lives. By the end of the trilogy, (view spoiler)[I have tired of hard-ass matriarchs and the painful sacrifice of the spouses and partners of the Akinyas. (hide spoiler)] Reynolds excels at descriptions of orbital and gravitational effects, and motion of crafts in space and in atmosphere, an affinity that probably relates to his time at the European Space Agency before becoming a writer. The action and tension pick up near the end of this novel, and the mechanics are awesome to imagine. But I found the final narrative to be overly drawn out, with too many attempts at heart-warming summarization of the essential nature of humanity to attempt the illogical and to never give up. Overall, I found the book (and the trilogy) to be entertaining space opera, somewhat padded with technobabble, but definitely not brain-food.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Esteban Vega

    It's OK I guess. I've realized Reynolds can't write characters. They don't develop, they're mono-dimensional beings that stay on a dialogue loop with few variations, and sometimes they even get dumped unceremoniously and you forget all about them because their irrelevancy to the story. They are repeated across novels with different names and occupations. This is infuriating. Ru's a bitch that can't get on with the program and keeps throwing jabs at Eunice just because, Ana Khouri did it so much bet It's OK I guess. I've realized Reynolds can't write characters. They don't develop, they're mono-dimensional beings that stay on a dialogue loop with few variations, and sometimes they even get dumped unceremoniously and you forget all about them because their irrelevancy to the story. They are repeated across novels with different names and occupations. This is infuriating. Ru's a bitch that can't get on with the program and keeps throwing jabs at Eunice just because, Ana Khouri did it so much better with Volyova, but she's cut from the same fabric. And the problem is not her being a bitch, but her failure to evolve, the entire novel she's the same... I could list most personages in this fashion, but the keen reader should have noticed by reading this trilogy, and it adds nothing. Instead, I'm putting my finger on the why. Clavain was complex, as the Sylvestes, and Sunstealer, Ilya to a point... Sky Haussmann, Tanner Mirabel and Cahuella were his greatest characters ever. So, why does Alastair fails so miserably with this trilogy? We have Geoffrey, the insufferable retard. Then the idiot Chikus and her latino/mediterranean lover. Almost every character is a nuisance to read. We could've had the stories of Ocular, Arachne, Swift and the Evolvarium robots, a proper Eunice Story (not from the periphery, as the trilogy does except in parts —although in Eunice's case maybe it was better this way), but no, we got stuck with the worst characters in Reynolds' universe. The most dislikeable ones, and that's only because Reynolds didn't write them properly. As each of his novels, almost a trademark of his, we have some terribly lazy writing mistakes: Eunice —a being a few hundred years old, light years away from were she was born, interacting with incomprehensible alien beings, a construct from the memories of a human, a robot so complex she was a woman first and after— would NEVER do what she did. It's a failure from the author's imagination not to understand that old sentient beings will value their own lives over everything else; Asimov explained it beautifully with Solarians, Vernor Vinge with the Korolevs and Della Lu, Clarke with an assorted mix of beings. You seriously think Eunice would have stopped to tell Ru the time of the day? F**k that! She's so much bigger than poor irrelevant Ru... She's the story! Another one is Kanu caring so much for her ex. Come on, they were years apart; anyone with an ex knows if you have to hang out with them, because of a social event or whatever, you simply won't care as you did. So that entire subplot of him falling in love and worming day and night at her feet is naive. And a couple others. I won't even deign mention the elephants, sorry, the Tantors, sorry, the Risen, sorry the Ambassadors, because frankly we've had enough of them. They're just somewhat clever pets that can be manipulated by higher beings. AR added them because a friend of his liked them, or some nonsense like that. The Watchmakers, the M-Builders, Crucible, the Mandalas, those are always interesting and as with Eunice's history, is good we get so little of them, because explaining them in their entirety would just show the author's limitations, after all there's no one like Stanislaw Lem to write about beings far removed from our mammalian perspective. Read it, if you have to finish the trilogy, but don't expect anything Revelation Space level. Don't expect anything even at Terminal WorldTerminal World, House of SunsHouse of Suns level. Blue Remembered Earth was "the good one" of this trilogy, by far, and the sequels are a disservice to the original idea. I really expected it to pick up in its ending. At least Eunice Akinya brought us this far... but I'd rather enjoy her adventures in Mars and Moon, where she left the first clues to her ungrateful and inept progeny.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Johan Haneveld

    3,5 stars. The half star for the ambition itself. I thought this book lacked a bit of the focus on characters from the first two books. Maybe this is because it spans less time (or more, but it is spent in hybernation mostly), focussing instead on exploration. The conflicts are not political as in the earlier books, but more philosophical/abstract. Some conflict was forced, almost as if the author was searching for interpersonal problems to add some spice to the story. That being said: this book 3,5 stars. The half star for the ambition itself. I thought this book lacked a bit of the focus on characters from the first two books. Maybe this is because it spans less time (or more, but it is spent in hybernation mostly), focussing instead on exploration. The conflicts are not political as in the earlier books, but more philosophical/abstract. Some conflict was forced, almost as if the author was searching for interpersonal problems to add some spice to the story. That being said: this book has elephants in space (what more do you want?), a robot personality programmed in someone's brain and dressing as a 18th century gentleman when he shows himself, adventures under the ice of europe where an otherworldly society has developed, a water planet where aliens have constructed 200 km high wheels sticking out from the atmosphere, murder by nanotechnology, a very tense and exciting rescue operation and to me fascinating ruminations on physics, meaning and the fate of the universe. This novel takes on one of the conundrums of modern scifi, i.e. that a purely materialistic view of life and the universe, must believe that ultimately all will end, which means that our lives have no lasting significance. When Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes is asked to make a sum, he answers: 'but what would be the meaning if the sun will swallow up the earth anyway?' And notes to the reader: 'no one likes a person with a long term vision'. It's something that creeps up on me too, that the ultimate end of the universe (or of my life) negates the meaning it has, which to me needs to be something objective, because due to depression I cannot always 'feel like' my life has meaning. I thought it refreshing to see this taken on in a mainstream SF novel. And even thought there are no easy answers given, the terror of being a consciousness in this materialistic universe is convincingly described. Like the best SF-novels it gave food for thought, and I would not mind seeing the series continue, maybe in the form of short stories, to see more of this fascinating universe!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Klaas Bottelier

    This was not a great read, some parts were too long and not very interesting and I thought that there weren’t that many characters to care about. Where Poseidon’s Wake shines is its awe-inspiring concepts. There are physical phenomena, like the mysterious Mandala and the Watchkeepers, and there are concepts of the mind, like the Gupta-Wing Threshold, which deals with states of consciousness and then there are the diverse machine intelligences. These concepts and phenomena make you want to keep r This was not a great read, some parts were too long and not very interesting and I thought that there weren’t that many characters to care about. Where Poseidon’s Wake shines is its awe-inspiring concepts. There are physical phenomena, like the mysterious Mandala and the Watchkeepers, and there are concepts of the mind, like the Gupta-Wing Threshold, which deals with states of consciousness and then there are the diverse machine intelligences. These concepts and phenomena make you want to keep reading to see where the story goes next and somewhat make up for the parts of the book that were less interesting but all-in-all I feel that this book was just not a great read. Alastair Reynolds remains one of my favorite writers, his world-building is great and the diverse mind-bending concepts he comes up with are incredible, but Poseidon’s Wake just wasn’t one of his best works in my opinion. I would still definitely recommend reading his other works, for great sci-fi read “House of Suns” or the “Revelation Space” trilogy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    An indulgent, bloated, disappointing conclusion to a flat and uninspiring trilogy. There is barely a spark of the Alastair Reynolds we love to be seen here - no gasps of delight or horror, just a dull story that moves at a crawl and where even in the end, very little actually transpires.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Compared with the earlier installments in this series this one felt a bit limited. In the earlier books the focus on the Akinya's and their elephants made more sense, here it felt too forced. Still good, but not my favorite books by Reynold. Compared with the earlier installments in this series this one felt a bit limited. In the earlier books the focus on the Akinya's and their elephants made more sense, here it felt too forced. Still good, but not my favorite books by Reynold.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rusty

    So, I’ve got this tendency to read books, have real thoughts about them, then forget what fleeting thoughts I had about them by the time I sit down to write them out. Funny, part of me writing reviews at all is a response to me reading books, then seeing them a year or two later and not being able to remember anything about it at all. When goodreads came along I thought it would be a perfect repository for my precious thoughts about a given book. I’d be able to go over previous plot summaries, t So, I’ve got this tendency to read books, have real thoughts about them, then forget what fleeting thoughts I had about them by the time I sit down to write them out. Funny, part of me writing reviews at all is a response to me reading books, then seeing them a year or two later and not being able to remember anything about it at all. When goodreads came along I thought it would be a perfect repository for my precious thoughts about a given book. I’d be able to go over previous plot summaries, the writer’s prose, the exposition, everything. It’s just that I tend to always be looking forward, never backward (not in the good way, the way a leader does, but in the bad way, the way a forgetful husband might) and so sitting down and reflecting, I don’t know, it’s something I have to make myself do. But, be that as it may, I picked up my main man, Alastair Reynolds’ latest release in the states, the third in his trilogy of books about the future of humanity among the stars, and sat down for a great read. This trilogy followed a particular familial line through the future history, events of one book setting the stage for things that happen later that the kids or grandkids might have to deal with. In the case of this particular novel, it really hinged on the events of the previous one. Couldn’t remember a damn thing about it. I remember I liked it, but nothing else. Good thing I wrote my thoughts down about it after I’d read. I’m a genius. My plan worked. This is THE REASON I started writing this shit in the first place. So I go back and reread my ‘review’ of the second book in the series to see what it was that I had to say about it. Mostly it was me talking about how pissed I was that the book comes out so much earlier in the UK than it does here stateside. I talked about how I’d almost ordered it from across the pond but decided against it. Mostly because I think I wanted the cover art of my books in the series to look consistent. What did I say about the book itself? Not much. Something about an AI killing people (I don’t remember that) and also something about an artifact discovered on an alien world (That part, at least, sorta rang a bell). So, my purpose, my whole reason for doing this thing, it didn’t really pay off. I still waffle everytime one of my fav UK authors releases a book over there and I don’t see it coming out here for a year or so. I always think I could order it and have it shipped, but I never do it. Ever. So, there’s that. So, to future me that is reading this and hoping to get a recap about whatever this book is about, You’re F**cked. I did like it, probably not as much as I guess I did the second book, which I gave 5 stars to, but still, it was pretty great. I’m gonna reread the Revelation Space novels again soon, and probably House of Suns too. I don’t know why I just typed that out. I guess it’s because I know I’m done talking about this but my fingers won’t stop typing. Stop it. Stop typing dammit. I’m through. Finished. No more to be said about this. Done.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Terence

    This is - probably - the final book in the Poseidon's Children series, though the are plenty of unanswered questions to justify a sequel or two. Overall, the trilogy is one of Reynolds' better efforts in recent years, though this particular novel was overlong (I skimmed the last 100 pages or so) and his efforts to make the characters interesting were hit-and-miss. I don't know whether the author and his readers might have been better served if he had focused on the Watchkeeper/Mandala-Builder plo This is - probably - the final book in the Poseidon's Children series, though the are plenty of unanswered questions to justify a sequel or two. Overall, the trilogy is one of Reynolds' better efforts in recent years, though this particular novel was overlong (I skimmed the last 100 pages or so) and his efforts to make the characters interesting were hit-and-miss. I don't know whether the author and his readers might have been better served if he had focused on the Watchkeeper/Mandala-Builder plot and its implications for humanity or on the human/Tantor plot and its implications. Reynolds bit off more than he could adequately chew combining both even in the scope of a trilogy, particularly in the case of the Tantors (or the Risen, as they call themselves). I think he missed an opportunity to more fully explore the philosophical/moral questions that would arise if humans raised up another species to be our intellectual equals. On the other hand, we do learn more of the two nonhuman, superadvanced civilizations Reynolds introduced in the previous novels: The post-conscious, machine intelligences of the Watchkeepers, and the far older, possibly extinct, Mandala-Builders (M-builders). The philosophical question the author tackles is "What is the purpose, if any, in existence?" The M-builders came to believe that there was none; the universe could come to an end with a random vacuum fluctuation at any point and all the accumulated information in all space-time lost. The M-builders' (possible) resolution of the conundrum is interesting. I think Reynolds' own view is mirrored in Swift's - a machine intelligence from the Martian Evolvarium - reply to the despair that threatens to overwhelm one of the human characters, and it reminds me of a similar sentiment expressed by a character in Simone de Beauvois' All Men Are Mortal: The fragility of existence makes it all the more imperative that humans (all intelligent life) strive to make their portion of the cosmos a better place. Moderately enthusiastic recommendation.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gerhard

    Emphatically the concluding volume of a trilogy, this is the sort of geeky, cliquey SF book that will remain endlessly puzzling to non-genre fans: a lot of ‘talking head’ digressions about some rather arcane philosophical points such as vacuum fluctuations and deep time, wedded to a seemingly unhealthy obsession with scientific matters and alien creatures and objects. Not to mention such absurdities as elephants in spacesuits. When I first read Blue Remembered Earth a few years ago, I wondered wh Emphatically the concluding volume of a trilogy, this is the sort of geeky, cliquey SF book that will remain endlessly puzzling to non-genre fans: a lot of ‘talking head’ digressions about some rather arcane philosophical points such as vacuum fluctuations and deep time, wedded to a seemingly unhealthy obsession with scientific matters and alien creatures and objects. Not to mention such absurdities as elephants in spacesuits. When I first read Blue Remembered Earth a few years ago, I wondered where Alastair Reynolds would take this story of the Akinyas and the Tantors. From what I gathered from a recent interview, the trilogy surprised Reynolds himself in the ultimate direction it would take. Reynolds has always been a bit of a maverick, despite often being lumped together with the group of SF writers responsible for the so-called New Space Opera. A lot of his books differ widely in subject matter, not to mention quality, and the Poseidon’s Children trilogy is no different. I was quite disappointed by On A Steel Breeze, which lead to some trepidation in tackling the rather hefty third book. I was soon engrossed though and quickly won over: unusually for a trilogy, this is by far the best volume. The story comes full circle as we finally learn about the fate of the Tantors. Reynolds takes the concept of genetically enhanced elephants and brings them to magnificent life. There is more than passing homage to Mike Resnick and in particular Arthur C. Clarke here, particularly with the slow build-up of alien mystery and revelation, culminating in a conclusion that is rousing, heartfelt and quite magnificent.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jill Carroll

    I quite enjoyed this trilogy, which I tend to think of as The Eunice Akinya Trilogy. Right up there with C.J. Cherryh's Unionside Trilogy. Almost as good as Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, or his Climate Change Trilogy (Science in the Capitol). Better than Dune (which faded so much from book to book), or Foundation (which had great ideas but lacked characterization). It is the first Reynolds I've read, but I think I'm about to embark on some serious binge reading. Pushing Ice is now calling I quite enjoyed this trilogy, which I tend to think of as The Eunice Akinya Trilogy. Right up there with C.J. Cherryh's Unionside Trilogy. Almost as good as Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, or his Climate Change Trilogy (Science in the Capitol). Better than Dune (which faded so much from book to book), or Foundation (which had great ideas but lacked characterization). It is the first Reynolds I've read, but I think I'm about to embark on some serious binge reading. Pushing Ice is now calling me from the pile of books across the room. Favourite Things: the feisty Eunice, nuanced characters, merpeople, vast sweep of setting and time, interesting AI's, and, of course, uplifted elephants.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Konstantinos Georgokitsos

    Space opera still is Reynolds' strength, and he delivers the wonders of the universe as expertly as ever. In fact he is putting the personal, human stories before the galactic events, and keeps us firmly grounded on the human condition. And a bit of our humanity can come a long way, even if faced with incomprehensibly advanced aliens. I would wish, though, that his books were a bit more concise, as the story was hanging a bit at places. Sheer page count in SF books is so 90's. Space opera still is Reynolds' strength, and he delivers the wonders of the universe as expertly as ever. In fact he is putting the personal, human stories before the galactic events, and keeps us firmly grounded on the human condition. And a bit of our humanity can come a long way, even if faced with incomprehensibly advanced aliens. I would wish, though, that his books were a bit more concise, as the story was hanging a bit at places. Sheer page count in SF books is so 90's.

  26. 4 out of 5

    DiscoSpacePanther

    The three Poseidon's Children novels by Alastair Reynolds feel like a blend of the best of Arthur C. Clarke's long-dead alien encounter stories and Kim Stanley Robinson's hard SF concepts and characters, with a little bit of Larry Niven's Ringworld thrown in for good measure. Everything about these books reminds me of these big, century-spanning epics, and this final part, with its cast of scientists, mermen, AIs and hyper-intelligent elephants really hits the sweet spot between adventurous and t The three Poseidon's Children novels by Alastair Reynolds feel like a blend of the best of Arthur C. Clarke's long-dead alien encounter stories and Kim Stanley Robinson's hard SF concepts and characters, with a little bit of Larry Niven's Ringworld thrown in for good measure. Everything about these books reminds me of these big, century-spanning epics, and this final part, with its cast of scientists, mermen, AIs and hyper-intelligent elephants really hits the sweet spot between adventurous and thought-provoking for me. This book will be inextricably linked in my mind with Deep Purple's In Rock album, as I was listening to it on a loop whilst reading the story on my daily commute - the song Child in Time just seemed to go so well with the book's themes that listening to it again just conjures images from the story back into my mind! Fantastic!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Franco

    Honestly a somewhat disappointing conclusion to the series. If I could give it 2.5 stars I probably would. What had impressed me up until this point in the series was Reynolds's capacity to introduce a whole new suite of characters - only loosely tied to those that came before - and still leave you feeling emotionally connected to them and their ties with the Akinya family. Unfortunately Poseidon's Wake falls short in this regard. Some characters feel poorly developed, whilst others are just fran Honestly a somewhat disappointing conclusion to the series. If I could give it 2.5 stars I probably would. What had impressed me up until this point in the series was Reynolds's capacity to introduce a whole new suite of characters - only loosely tied to those that came before - and still leave you feeling emotionally connected to them and their ties with the Akinya family. Unfortunately Poseidon's Wake falls short in this regard. Some characters feel poorly developed, whilst others are just frankly annoying and impetuous in a way that I don't think was intentional (I'm looking at you, Goma Akinya). Some of the prose also falls into the habit of explaining labyrinthine alien architecture in really unnecessary detail. This criticism might be pretty personal to me, but it's a style of writing sci-fi that I find really tedious. Give me some simple visual metaphors and let my imagination do the rest, I really don't need to know how oblique your monolith's angles are. Wanting to know what was going to happen with the trilogy's grand plot was the only thing that kept me reading, and even then it didn't feel like a particularly satisfying payoff. This is the second Reynolds trilogy that I've read now, and I'm getting the impression that he's far better at 'one-shot' stories than multi-book series.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Will R

    Beautiful, elegaic. Reynolds rages against the dying of the light — of humanity, of consciousness, of meaning itself — in this final book in the series. Was it overlong; possibly. Were the characters Reynolds's typical fare of competent, cold protagonists; undoubtedly. Does it make this conclusion any less powerful? I think not. Beautiful, elegaic. Reynolds rages against the dying of the light — of humanity, of consciousness, of meaning itself — in this final book in the series. Was it overlong; possibly. Were the characters Reynolds's typical fare of competent, cold protagonists; undoubtedly. Does it make this conclusion any less powerful? I think not.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Luke Burrage

    Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #328.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heather Ryan

    This was an absolutely wonderful way to wrap up the trilogy. Sincerely looking forward to reading more from Alastair Reynolds.

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