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.
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:
- Everyone is back to the spaceship.
- Something bad happens that needs solving.
- Problem is Solved.
- 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.
Anyway, on to the next.