I am listening to the audiobook, with the odd peek at my paperback. As this is a doorstopper, the audio comes in 5 parts. I‘ll update as I go along…
Audiobook Part 1: 6 h 56 min (183 pages), Chapters 1-6, ★★★½☆
Glacially slow set-up and introduction of a variety of characters. Very little plot progression. I liked what was there. Alas, it was not for the impatient and easily bored (aka ME!). I wonder how all these very different stories will come together.
Chapter list with characters (potential spoilers):
NASA Captain-Pilot Wilson Kime, stepping on Mars in third place…
Nigel Sheldon and college geek with wild Afro (Ozzie), appearing in an opening in space…
– Chapter One
Dudley Bose and the vanishing star…
Dyson Alpha, the vanishing star…
Lion Walker Eyre, man with a telescope.
– Chapter Two
Adam Elvin, man of mystery and many faces, weapons procurer.
Nigel Murphy, a comrade with weapons.
Sabbah, undercover comrade.
Rachael Lancier, arms dealer.
Chief Investigator Paula Myo.
Don Mares and Maggie Lidsey, Police detectives.
Tarlo and Renne, Investigators from the Directorate.
– Chapter Three
Rafael Columbia, chief of the Intersolar Serious Crimes Directorate. Bunch of other committee members.
Tara Jennifer Shaheef, woman out of luck.
Wyobie Cotal, lover boy.
– Chapter Four
Justine Burnelli, having fun with a hyperglider. Her friend Estella.
Kazimir McFoster, wild man in a kilt.
– Chapter Five
Wilson Kime again, retired. Emily, his grand daughter.
Paula Myo, chasing Elvin…
Wyobie Cotal again, diminished…
– Chapter Six
Mark Vernon, fist lifer on Augusta.
Liz, his beautiful wife, not a first lifer…
Barry, their son. Sandy, baby girl.
Marty, Mark‘s dad, and Amanda, his girlfriend. Slightly scandalous.
Tarlo and Renne again, investigating…
April Gallar Halgarth, girl with memory problems.
Audiobook Part 2: 7 h 22 min (pages 184-376), Chapter 7-11, ★★★★★
Interesting biology and chemistry! Really cool idea, although Merredin is not necessarily a planet I would like to visit. Just that by itself is a great plot bunny for a colonization/first contact novel! There are several other planets and constructs in this part of the book, that would make for great settings for separate novels. The world building here is fascinating.
With all people living multiple lives, I would love to have a timeline sketched out at the back of the book. If I should ever decide to re-read this book, I plan to make annotations and try to figure out a timeline myself.
You definitely need patience with this book. Interesting things happen and then you switch POV and…. something else happens and it‘s all a very loooong game….
But by Chapter 10 (yes, yes, almost 300 pages of set-up), things are starting to come together, the many characters are becoming familiar names and the plot picks up the pace.
Chapter list with characters, settings and spoilery ramblings: (spoilers!!!)
– Chapter Seven
Oscar Monroe, wormhole builder and planetary explorer, showing up again on Merredin.
Dudley Bose, Leonida City, discoverer of astronomical phenomena, feeling entitled… His wife Wendy and Brad, with Earle, the News man, no last name…
– Chapter Eight
Ozzie Fernandez Isaac, on his asteroid and travelling the Path.
Nine Sky, the elf…ehem… Silfen.
Orion, the orphan boy.
Elves! Who could say no to that! Silvergalde is a more tempting planet. And down the rabbit hole we go!
– Chapter Nine
Adam Elvin showing up again, on Lothian. Very Scottish…
Bradley Johansson—I feel like I should know him from a previous chapter.
Tara Jennifer Shaheef and her new husband, deSavoel.
Morton, Tara‘s Ex. His girlfriend Melanie.
Starting to wonder. Well, continuing to wonder… why Tara and Wyobie were killed. And I am also starting to want a timeline… Morton has been rejuvenated twice since Tara‘s death and mentioned 40 years since….
– Chapter 10
Oscar Monroe (wormhole builder, chapter 7), McClain Gilbert, and the High Angel—another very cool idea worthy of its own novel.
Paula and Hoshe, meeting the Raiel and passing Tara‘s memories to Qatux. Another cool concept. Human ethics. Judging others through your own lens—should you or shouldn‘t you?
Ron Tannie, regretting taking this job on Anshun. Wowza, this is the action I like to see in a good SF opera! And well played, Wilson!
Lennie Al Husan, reporter on Anshun—at this point I wonder if all these seemingly random characters will end up as personnel and passengers on the Second Chance?
– Chapter 11
Meeting Sara and old Bill, the Korrok-hi. Cocktail hour on the ice planet.
Rafael Columbia shows up again and proves to be an idiot that Paula is not too fussed with.
At this point in the narrative, I would say that Ozzie is one of my favourite characters. Together with Wilson and Paula Myo.
Still to come:
Part 2: 7 h 22 min
Part 3: 7 h 30 min
Part 4: 8 h 52 min
Part 5: 6 h 48 min