Nov 11, 2009

Covering Covers: Gardens of the Sun

I read Paul McAuley's first book, The Quiet War a month or two back. It didn't exactly leave me excited to pick up the next installment but it's hard to argue with the cover that Lou Anders posted over at Pyr. Wow.

I thought the first cover was great but this cover is a step above even that strong piece of art.

Lou also blurbed the novel:

The Quiet War is over. The city states of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn have fallen to the Three Powers Alliance of Greater Brazil, the European Union and the Pacific Community. A century of enlightenment, rational utopianism and exploration of new ways of being human has fallen dark. Outers are herded into prison camps and forced to collaborate in the systematic plundering of their great archives of scientific and technical knowledge, while Earth's forces loot their cities, settlements and ships, and plan a final solution to the 'Outer problem'. But Earth's victory is fragile, and riven by vicious internal politics. While seeking out and trying to anatomise the strange gardens abandoned in place by Avernus, the Outers' greatest genius, the gene wizard Sri Hong-Owen is embroiled in the plots and counterplots of the family that employs her. The diplomat Loc Ifrahim soon discovers that profiting from victory isn't as easy as he thought. And in Greater Brazil, the Outers' democratic traditions have infected a population eager to escape the tyranny of the great families who rule them. After a conflict fought to contain the expansionist, posthuman ambitions of the Outers, the future is as uncertain as ever. Only one thing is clear. No one can escape the consequences of war - especially the victors.
I'm still undecided if I will pick up Gardens of the Sun. I wasn't impressed by the characterization in the first book but I felt a lot of the issues might have been caused by it being the first piece of a larger story rather than a stand-alone book. The characters that felt superfluous in The Quiet War may have instrumental roles in the sequel. Currently, Gardens of the Sun is the second book in McAuley's diptych as indicated by the author over in an Q/A session over at io9.
YetiStomper: I know the sequel Gardens of the Sun is coming out next year in the US, what is the overall scope of the series? Will it be a strict trilogy or are you planning something larger? 
Paul_McAuley: @YetiStomper: In one sense Gardens of the Sun is a direct sequel to The Quiet War, in that it picks up and follows the stories of the characters in the first novel through the aftermath of war and the development of new tensions. But I prefer to think of the two novels as a diptych. The first about the onrushing inevitability of war; the second about attempts to win some kind of conciliation and new direction out of war’s aftermath. The first is the lesson; the second is the lesson learned.

I'm kind of sort of thinking about a third book, set about a thousand years after the first two.
Note who asked the question. Wink Wink. I think I'll give the second book a try since it's only a two book arc. I sincerely hope that McAuley can bring the character quality to match his hard science.

It's just too bad you aren't suppossed to judge a book by its cover. Because this would be a guaranteed 5-star.

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