Shards of Earth

Reading the Three Body Problem became a curse. For 4 years I have been looking for something that could replace it in my imagination. Nothing has come close so far. In those 4 years, I have read the first and second book thrice and the third one twice. It has become a tradition to read those books every year or so. It’s an understatement to say it’s best fictional series I ever read.

In the background, my search continues. The last one I read was from Adrian Tchaikovsky, Shards of Earth:


It has a respectable 4.20 in GoodReads. I have also read Children of Time from Adrian. I find the plot of the latter superior. To put it mildly I struggled to finish Shards of Earth. I only did it because I thought some cliff hanger would leave me wanting to read the second book. The book has a strong emphasis in the dynamic between the crew members. I wrote about it here in the past. It seems that with sci-fi stories, I am much more inclined to plot driven stories. Shards of Earth is very much a character driven story. The book introduces two concepts that kept hoping for more: unspace (equivalent to the warp in Warhammer 40k) and The Architects. The issue I have is that these concepts: a) were never well explored b) never had enough mystery about them to make me want more. So they are left in a weird limbo. The flow of the book is also cyclical:

  1. Everyone is back to the spaceship.
  2. Something bad happens that needs solving.
  3. Problem is Solved.
  4. Go to step 1).

This happens three times and it’s the bulk of the book. We get some more details about The Architects by the end. But by then I am no longer invested. Unspace doesn’t feel meaningfully explored and only used as a means to an end, rather than some concept that could (or should) be central to the plot. If it is, I missed it.

Now the positives. It’s a book that reads quite well. I never felt blocked by the language used, or having to go back to re-read a particular scene. Hyperion is in stark contrast - the choice of uncommon words makes it difficult to push through. This sums what I liked in the book.