Review of Poseidon’s Wake

Review By Ty Black

The race is on after a mysterious deep-space signal from Gliese 163 cuts through the Solar System on its way to the planet Crucible with a rogue human, a race of evolved machines, a race of alien machines, and the colonial government all sending delegations to investigate.

Space opera Poseidon’s Wake, by Alastair Reynolds, is the third and final book of the Poseidon’s Children series, after Blue Remembered Earth (2012), and On the Steel Breeze (2013). I’ll be more honest than reviewers usually are and say the Poseidon’s Children series has been on my to-be-read list for a while, but I haven’t gotten to it (yet). I debated whether or not to request this one, but I did so because the book’s U.K. publisher said in its marketing materials that Poseidon’s Wake could be read as a stand-alone novel.

As it turned out that was a bit optimistic. I had to read the first third of the book before I felt oriented as to who was who and what was going on. Throughout the entire thing I felt like I’d been dragged along to someone else’s office party, and I was standing around awkwardly near groups I wasn’t a part of, smiling at conversations I didn’t have any context for. The author seemed to spend a lot of time wrapping up loose ends from somewhere else in the series, and that might have been exciting if I’d read the first two books and wanted to know how all the various characters fared, but as it was it seemed to clutter up the novel and make it the pacing seem tedious.

I’m not going to give Poseidon’s Wake a star rating, as that wouldn’t be fair: I can’t really rate it without reading the first two. Suffice it to say it’s probably not worth checking out if you haven’t read Blue Remembered Earth or On the Steel Breeze. (If you’ve read the first two, you’ve likely got a good idea of what to expect from Poseidon’s Wake, and you don’t need me to make a recommendation.)

Alastair Reynolds is an astronomer and noted science fiction author known for his blend of hard science fiction and space opera. His novels have been nominated multiple times for the BSFA and the Arthur C. Clarke award. His second novel, Chasm City, won the BSFA for Best Novel.

Poseidon’s Wake
608pp. Berkley Publishing Group/Ace. $27.00