(2000) Adam Roberts, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk, 248pp
Told through the differing perspectives of two people, this is the tale of a colonisation effort that slips into war and tragedy. Petja represents the people of Als, quasi-anarchists, and Barlei the people of Senaar, religious fundamentalists. On the journey to the planet Salt, several of Barlei’s men impregnate the women of the anarchists and, once on the surface of the new world, the children of those matings become the object of a bitter dispute that escalates into war... Heaven knows it’s nice to see a new book that isn’t over 500 pages long, notwithstanding the ‘epic’ scale of the story, but this one has been more than a little over-hyped. Certainly comparisons with Frank Herbert’s Dune have been made, but the simple fact is that Roberts is nothing like that good... yet. This is a promising debut, but I’ve seen stronger in recent memory (Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space and Wil McCarthy’s Bloom spring to mind). Worth a read, but dull in places.
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