On The Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds

(8.0/10) An intelligent novel, with strong dialogue and stunning visuals.

An epic vision of our journey into deep space.  Hundreds of years from now mankind will finally inherit the stars. A fleet of holoships is heading towards the nearest habitable planet at 15% the speed of light. In massive asteroids turned into ships, tens of millions of people are heading towards a new home. A home that bears signs of an ancient alien civilization.

No-one knows what they will find when they get there in 90 years. But the main problem is that the ships will have to break the laws of physics to be able to stop. And the research into ways to stop risk the ships themselves. Has mankind squandered the utopia of years past?

This is imaginative, ambitious and visual science fiction, with clones, robots and elephants (yes, elephants). It has an interesting and enigmatic central character in Chiku who is your typical strong, feisty heroine often found in space operas.

With an array of landscapes, terrain, life forms and obstacles to explore, there is plenty going on and going for this novel. It is at times quite hard to grasp, especially early, but the concerns and issues eventually raised in this universe are relevant to our own future. The characters here are facing tough decisions with far-reaching consequences.

I did find some of the jumps in the narrative a little jarring; the plot frequently moves several years ahead, and, despite the superb ideas and concepts shared, the novel could have done with some trimming. It really does drag in places, which is ironic as it is about people hurtling towards disaster!

On the whole, this is an intelligent novel, with strong dialogue and stunning visuals. It says much about the importance of tolerance in order to survive. It is though let down by its pacing and length. I am sure most fans of the genre will enjoy it, but I felt it could have been better.

On The Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds
Published 2013 by Gollancz

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