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Publisher's Summary

Critically acclaimed author Alastair Reynolds holds a well-deserved place “among the leaders of the hard-science space opera renaissance." (Publishers Weekly). In Blue Remembered Earth, Geoffrey Akinya wants nothing more than to study the elephants of the Amboseli basin. But when his space-explorer grandmother dies, secrets come to light and Geoffrey is dispatched to the Moon to protect the family name - and prevent an impending catastrophe.

©2012 Alastair Reynolds (P)2012 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Blue Remembered Earth

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A surprising and staisfying departure for Reynolds

Reynolds' latest is somewhat of a departure from his more sweeping and awe-inspiring conceptions of the future. This tale is situated in the later half of the 22nd century with earth having been ravaged by global warming resulting in geopolitical dislocations. The West has been marginalized due to environmental disruptions. Africa has assumed a world leadership position and one specific African family has replicated the Rockefeller/Ford/Walmart model of dominating the rising economic drivers of their age; in their case energy and space industries are paramount. The family's rise to prominence has been the result of a matriarch (Eunice) who was renown for her space exploits like Lindbergh or Earhart.

The tale begins with the passing of Eunice and our main character, Geoffrey who is an otherwise dedicated, but inconsequential elephant researcher with no interest in the family business, is commandeered to handle a delicate matter of tying up loose ends left by her. What ensues is an adventure saga of following clues and puzzles left by Eunice that only her family could decipher. Along the way, the mystery that was Eunice grows deeper. The sci-fi so prominent in previous Reynolds novels, is present, but is almost secondary to the plot and serves to advance the story, rather than vice versa: advanced AI, gene engineered humans (but still in the early phase with some problems evident), settlement of the solar system, human/animal mind interface, and continual population surveillance with action control. As usual, Reynolds' thorough descriptions provide for an extremely realistic and believable depiction of the future. Perhaps the only ding to the tale is that the final plot twist was too predictable and expected.

The narration is excellent with a full range of male and female voices as well as the beyond human constructs.

35 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Reynolds Comes Home for a Great Story

This is the last Alastair Reynolds book on Audible I had to listen to and now I find I feel like the AI on the BBC comedy sci-fi, Red Dwarf, who asked for all his Agatha Christie files to be deleted so he could enjoy reading her books again - I can't wait to forget these stories so I can enjoy them again. The big problem for me is that Alastair Reynolds stories are not so easy to forget! Blue Remembered Earth is a rather sweet book to end my Reynolds run. It doesn't have the grandeur of big concepts against a huge universal backdrop that you find in House of Suns or the Revelation Space Trilogy nor does it have the tight plotting and perfect pacing of Chasm City or The Prefect. However, it does have a lot of heart and conveys a message that doesn't show up often enough in science fiction - we have the stars and a huge universe to explore, but we should never forget how absolutely amazing, special, and intricate are the workings of our own beautiful planet. Sometimes we have to look at our world from the heavens to appreciate its stunning beauty and fragility and Blue Remembered Earth is a story that lets you do that. This near future sci-fi is not as grand as many Reynolds stories, but he does a great job of projecting out what climate change (independent of whether it is man-made or natural) will do to change our planet - such a major change in our environment will not only change the geography of the planet, but its flora and fauna, the world economic and political systems, and even theologies and cultures will be impacted or adapted.

A couple of audible reviewers have provided some great plot summaries (thank you Michael G. Kurilla and Wendy) which I can't do any better so I won't, but I will say that although the pacing of this tale is a little slower than some of Reynolds other books, I found the plot quite engaging and the settings are vivid and imaginative as well. These aren't Reynolds' strongest characters, but they are very nicely rendered by the narration of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. It was odd at first to listen to Reynolds as narrated by someone other than Jon Lee, but Holdbrook-Smith is more fitting for this Africa based story and this actor-narrator is talented. He has a warm, pleasant voice, provides distinct character voices, and does good accents. I heard him on the Peter Grant paranormal detective series and he was terrific at doing something rather comedic and fast-paced, but now I see he is equally good at reading a book intended to be more serious and dramatic. If you care about the prose, Blue Remembered Earth scores high. This is Reynolds describing giraffes running across the African plain, "They were loping, crossing the ground in great scissoring strides like pairs of draftsman's compasses being walked across the map." Reynolds prose tends to be rather elegant with exquisite metaphors sprinkled through it and Blue Remembered Earth is full of great examples of his style.

26 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Kept me going.

This was my first Alastair Reynolds, though probably not my last. I actually bought it for the reading by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, whose phenomenal performances made the Ben Aaronovitch "Rivers of London" series worthwhile all by themselves. This is an earlier effort by Holdbrook-Smith, and I don't think he'd quite gotten the hang of it, yet. It's also clearly further removed from the comfort zone of his diction, which I'd describe as "fifty shades of London."

The story is engaging, and the setting (22nd Century Earth (East Africa), Moon, Mars, and points outward in the Solar System) well-developed. I found none of the main characters especially appealing. In an extreme case that would lead me to stop listening to a book, but I got through this one, and enjoyed it. This isn't a high concept work, but it's solid hard SF.

18 people found this helpful

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Probably Reynolds' Weakest to Date

I would have to strongly disagree with the previous reviewer. I have read all published Al Reynolds that you can hold of easily Stateside, except for Terminal World, which is coming up on my reading list soon. I can say with certainty that the last few Reynolds books have fallen downhill, especially since Century Rain. This definitely cannot compare to his Revelation Space series, and I would highly recommend his best works as House of Suns, Redemption Ark and Chasm City.  But unless you're a die-hard fan who has to read EVERYTHING he writes, I would suggest you skip is one.

I honestly am not quite sure why this book was written. There is nothing especially new here, unless you count the fact that the protagonist is African. Unless that's what you've been waiting to read for years, this book is just plain boring. I'm sorry, but I have been reading sci if long enough that descriptions of society on Mars, Phobos and the Moon, no matter how imaginative, just don't keep me riveted in and of themselves. For me, it's all about characters and plot. 

Now, certainly the characters feel real to me. Kudos to Reynolds for creating a mostly black African dramatis personae, and seeing as he is both very white and very British, I think he did a great job making them realistic (as far as I can tell, anyway). However, that said, the characters don't really DO much of anything. The main character, as we well know from the description, just wants to keep studying elephants (and map his own brain patterns with that of elephants for some reason). Unfortunately that does NOT make an interesting story! I couldn't care less about imagining what a human looks like through an elephant's eyes.  A character needs to DO something in order for us to have a story, and they should not just be reacting to outside forces all the time.

Then you have a society which is essentially utopic, where crime is virtually nonexistent and you cannot even throw a punch at someone without machines in your head intervening and your getting arrested. So needless to say there isn't a lot of action. 

Another disappointing and completely unneeded element were the anti-Christian elements in this book. I don't know if Reynolds is atheist, agnostic, or anything else. But I don't read scifi to get bashed over the head with evolutionary theory and depressing philosophical arguments on the ultimate uselessness of all things. When one of the main characters laughs thinking that "she realized she was just a really smart monkey... A smart monkey who was flying to another planet in a spaceship" I just wanted to gag. Not very tactful, Al. He keeps mentioning this "smart monkey" concept too. For me, if that's all we are, then what is the point of exploring space, expanding to the stars, and preserving the human race? Such a future certainly wouldn't seem uplifting or positive at all, if everything is utterly useless and meaningless...

 Anyway, the plot is kind of a treasure hunt from place to place, with a lot of description of different societies that live in the different places we visit. Most of this is just filler material. I didn't find it that interesting. I actually listened to this book at 3x speed using the Audible app just to get through it faster.

Also, if you care about such things, let me say that this book could have been rated a comfortable "PG" for all scifi fans, except for the repeated uses of the F-word. There is almost no swearing in this book besides the F-Word, which is used frequently by just about everyone, often in strange places where you would normally expect a different kind of curse word, but you get the F-word instead. Bon appetit.

The ending of the book certainly makes it feel like a standalone, which I hope is the case. It feels pretty anticlimactic when compared to Reynolds' other works.

Finally a note about the narrator. His voice matches the main characters well. He is clearly of African descent and has a pleasant British accent. However, this almost feels like it could be the first book he ever narrated. He doesn't seem able to do any accents other than that one. The books should have had multiple narrators, because the characters end up sounding very similar and hard to differentiate. Because of this I imagined every single character being African. His American accent was painfully off, and he performed one character, who is some kind of a whale, so deep and slowly that it is extremely difficult to understand what he is saying.  The narration definitely detracts from the story.  I really miss John Lee.

For someone who has been a big Reynolds fan in the past, I am sorely disappointed in this latest offering and if it does turn out to be a trilogy I probably will not be reading the rest of this series, which I guess means I won't be reading any new Reynolds for a long time.

15 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fabulous ramble around the solar system.

Would you listen to Blue Remembered Earth again? Why?

Yes. I was really drawn into the story and very engaged in what would happen next.

Geoffrey and Sunday are scions of a wealthy and powerful family that has made its fortune in space mining, rockets, and so forth. Sunday lives in on the moon and Geoffrey in the family home in Africa, where he does research on elephants. They are pulled into what seems to be a treasure hunt laid for them by their recently deceased grandmother, who was an early space age pioneer. And what a treasure hunt! We get to see Mars, various parts of the moon, underwater cities, asteroid belt mining, and various other wonders. Reynolds really crafts a fabulous world for us to explore. The technology that the users interact with seems gracefully and seamlessly folded into the story - enough hints are dropped for us to figure out what is going on, but characters do not pause the narrative to say "and now i am using this piece of technology, which does XYZ, isn't it really cool" as can happen in some sci fi stories.

I came into this story a bit disappointed that it would not take place in the Revelation Space universe, and that it occurs only about 200 years after our present time. Since I love Reynolds far future visions, like his glitter band in the Prefect, I wasn't sure that this story would be worth listening to. Surely there would be no glitter band or anything as wild here. I shouldn't have worried, the technology here was just a fabulous. In addition, Reynolds has made huge leaps in his characterization; the people here are better brought to life than in many of his previous worlds.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favorite character was a minor one, Soya. She was pretty cool.

Any additional comments?

Great listen!

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Shame on the recording engineer

This book can be a difficult listen, at first. The reader, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, has an African accent, which is appropriate to the characters. The accent may be a problem for people who aren't used to hearing a variety of accents beyond American and British. Nonetheless, he is an excellent reader who handles the variety of characters well. No, the *real* problem is the muddiness of the recording. The producer or recording engineer did a poor job, because this books lacks the crisp audio that would have served the reader better. Shame on them.
The book itself, however, is quite good. I recommend it, *if* you think you can get over the poor recording quality.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Well performed; Weakest work of a brilliant author

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

It's OK. It is almost like the author dusted off an early un-submitted manuscript and updated it for publication. The story is nothing at all comparable with Revelation Space, etc.

What was most disappointing about Alastair Reynolds’s story?

Almost is juvenile science fiction, like the sort of stuff I read of Heinlein or Bradbury in the 60s, S is for Space, for example.

Have you listened to any of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No. He did a well enough job with the African accent. John Lee (performer of Revelation Space, etc)., is my favorite reader, is not used here. But these characters are African with the British accented English and this narrator does a fine job with that.

Was Blue Remembered Earth worth the listening time?

Yes. It is an OK story. . . Just disappointed in the lack of: brilliant ideas, grand themes. richly-composed characters. This is not a space opera. Lots of Deus ex machine plot elements. Not up to the quality of the author's usual brilliance. Sad to have to say all this. Alastair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton are my two favorite modern sci-fi authors and that is because their work is everything this particular book just does not live up to.

7 people found this helpful

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S...l...o...w...

Six hours in, there's a scene that struck me as a perfect metaphor. Robots are fighting, but they are so colossally slow, that nothing appears to be happening. The characters have to drug and wire their brains to make it seem interesting. The book is well written with a variety of characters, but they're not doing anything of import and there's nothing at stake. It might just be a book about some people in the future puttering around, but that's not something I'm willing to give more time.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Amazing Performance

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith delivers a masterful performance, creating distinct voices for the many characters in this engrossing story of a family secret that isn't easily unearthed. The characters were likable, the plot twisty and the future an interesting vision of a post climate change earth. I could have enjoyed a bit shorter denouement, but well worth the listen.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Kobna never disappoints!

If you could sum up Blue Remembered Earth in three words, what would they be?

Thoughtful, interesting, and speculative.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Eunice, I suppose, in all her iterations. She gets and keeps our protagonists moving.

Which character – as performed by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith – was your favorite?

Eunice, I think, though I really enjoyed his characterization of the cousins as well, Lucas and Hector.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Taking breaks was nice, mainly because of the length of the book and amount of detail. I never got bored with it, though.

Any additional comments?

This is the first time I bought an audiobook because of the narrator, primarily. After Kobna's work on the Peter Grant series, I thought I would check out some other stories he had narrated, but there aren't many. Blue Remembered Earth sounded up my alley, though, so I took a shot and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately Kobna doesn't narrate the sequels so I am unsure if I will continue; thankfully the book was satisfying as a stand-alone, even if I do want to find out what happens next.

5 people found this helpful

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