This is the second book in a series of three. (I reviewed Noumenon a while back, and I really enjoyed as I remember). You’re not going to be too surprised when I tell you that this book follows on from Book 1, more specifically the ongoing adventures of the seventh convoy as it takes on multi-millennium task of returning to the Dyson Sphere, completing, then activating it … to see what it does.
Yeeessss, the first and most obvious mistake is not doing your research: you don’t just go around switching on devices large enough to encase a sun, then cross your fingers and hope for the best. Needless to say, things start go wrong when the newly activated devices starts to behave in unexpected ways.
Like the first book, Noumenon Infinity is a monstrously epic tale spanning hundreds of thousands of years. The cast list, again, is immense, and once again the author treats each one as an individual tale that slips neatly into the massive story arc. The science is sound (in theory) and it was pacy enough to keep me reading constantly … for the first few days at least.
The last few hundred pages were struggled through with bloody-minded determination. The combination of aliens, post-humans, the Dyson Sphere, and the fleet splitting into two then reuniting centuries later was a bit of a struggle, and a little bit tedious at times. The prose didn’t strike me as punchy this time round, and in places seemed a little bit overdone.
Having said all that, I think this was partially my fault at least. Both these books were epic reads, so maybe doing them both back to back wasn’t a good idea. Essentially, it’s the same story told over hundreds of thousands of years. Hardly surprising then that I got a little fatigued near the end.
There’s one more book in the series which I’m going to leave until next year.
This is one slots in the bookshelf under Speculative Fiction with Ridiculously Big Numbers (subsection: Epic). And a book with numbers as big as this can’t really be told as a straight novel, so Baxter has written two stories for the price of one.
The first story features John Hackett, an emotionally-troubled astronaut tasked with exploring the Andromeda Galaxy. For him, it’ll be a short hop: about thirty years or so, which he’ll spend asleep, travelling in a spaceship the size of Jupiter. But due to time dilation, by the time he returns to Earth, millions of years will have passed.
The second thread was a little more intriguing: Mela is a young woman growing up on an Earth-like planet that is slowly dissolving. As the land disappears, the one hundred million inhabitants are forced to travel northward to wait for the end of everything.
This is one of the those occasions when I buy a book in hardback. Why? Well, two reasons:
The fantastically over-the-top cover design.
It’s one of the books I’d like folk to see on the shelf, or on the coffee table, or in the office, or on the passenger seat of the car.
I’m not sure where this book fits in the genre list; it’s based on the diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho, an ex-slave who, through his own ingenuity, and I will concede, the kindness of others, escaped his destiny of life-long, unrewarded servitude, to become a noted musician, writer and abolishonist in eighteenth century England.
Interestingly enough, the book was written by Paterson Joseph, an English actor who’s cropped in just about everything over the past twenty years or so. He started out in Peep Show, if I remember rightly, and since then he’s performed on stage as well as TV, and has also found the time to knock out a book or two.
The life of Charles Ignatius Sancho is obviously a passion of his, because he’s also behind a stage play about the same character.
Back to the book. Since it’s based on the diaries of a genuinely historical figure, then I’m going to put in the creative non-fiction bracket. Thinking about it, I think we can go a little further and pidgeon-hole it further into that miniscule section of the book market entitled Literary Creative-Non-Fiction of Outstanding Calibre.
Yup, it’s that good.
The writer notes that this is based on the diaries of main character, and as such, he’s embellished in places, though the story still carries the authentic thread of Sancho’s life.