4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Interesting but ultimately failed novel,
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This review is from: 2312 (Hardcover)
I like KSR's writing and many of his ideas about the future and about terraforming other planets, but this novel is truly a mixed batch. It contains some amazing and original ideas about how humanity history and its probably inevitable expansion, sooner or later, into space could evolve in the next 200 years, together with a rather thin plot. The narrative becomes boring after a while which is one of the most devastating things that can be said about a novelist. There are too many meaningless trips back and forth the solar system. This resource is used by KSR to show his imagination in describing in detail the spaceships used on each of those trips. He calls these huge ships "terrariums", and they are basically terraformed habitats populated with all sorts of plants and animals, to which some very powerful atomic engines are added. After the third or fourth long description of a different terrarium cum spaceship, this becomes boring.
The main character is an insufferable woman with a very pathological personality, but we are supposed to sympathize with her. The plot is at its most preposterous with the description of an attempt (failed attempt) by a relatively small group (a few hundred) of sentient A.I.s (KSR calls them humanoid qubes, to sabotage humanity's political stability and its expansion into outer space. This whole scheme and the qubes reason for doing it is never satisfactorily explained.
The novel is far too long for such a thin plot (560 pages) and it contains 33 short chapters inserted in the middle of the novel itself, 15 of which are called "Lists" alla John Dos Passos and 18 of them are called "Extracts". The lists are just that: lists of words and it is very hard to understand what was KSR's purpose to include them. The Extracts are much more interesting. Some of them are beautiful descriptions of some places in the solar system, such as Titan and Io and Iapetus, etc. Some are very interesting comments about possible future history, quantum computers, terraforming, the "Accelerando". Some of these comments are somewhat related to the plot. Others are not.
The writing, as it is usually the case with KSR, is excellent.