Adrian Tchaikovsky (2022)

A thoughtful and well-paced sequel to Shards of Earth. It’s notable for its ambitious premises, but also for its incredibly flawed protagonist and genuinely alien aliens. These include humans hybridised to increase their longevity and robustness, the Parthenon group of cloned female warriors, the Architects dismantling planets seemingly at random and the Originators who developed artefacts that prevent this, and the far more advanced (and inscrutable) Essiel.

The complexity and richness of the book come from the lack of knowledge that everyone seems to have about everyone else and their motives. Why are the Architects destroying planets? Why did the Originators develop ways to stop them? And what exactly are the Essiel up to at all? It makes the plot somewhat akin to a detective story as well as being classic space opera, and that’s unusual: science fiction that ventures into the essential un-knowability of aliens.

4/5. Finished Saturday 3 June, 2023.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)