19 February, 2010

Review: Seeds of Earth by Michael Cobley

At a time when WWW was an unknown abbreviation I liked to read science fiction. Anyone here who remembers authors like E. E. Smith or A. E. Van Vogt? -- to keep it short I press now fast-forward -- STOP -- In Roundup #03 I wrote about my plan to read some sci-fi within 2010. And I mentioned the book which I review today:
Seeds of Earth (2010, mass market paperback) [US][UK], by Michael Cobley. It is the first book in the Humanity's Fire series. As it has been published first in 2009 several reviews are available. Just follow the links: Walker of Worlds, Dave Brendon's Fantasy & Scifi Weblog, SFF World, Fantasy Book Critic, King of the Nerds !!! To be honest there are more reviews available and now the time has come to add my two cents:

The Setup

A dream came through.Mankind gets in contact with intelligent life from outer space. But it didn't take long and the dream turned into a nightmare. The Swarm - relentless, merciless, unstoppable - knew only one target: Conquer the Earth. In a last desperate attempt Earth send out three colony ships: Hyperion, Forrestal, Tenebrosa - the Seeds of Earth.
CUT
150 years later. Somewhere in space. Planet Darien. New home for the colonists of the Hyperion. They have established a peaceful relationship with the aboriginal Uvovo. Together they try to discover the secrets beneath Dariens's forest moon which is a secret in itself. Secrets which arouse attention of other galactic civilizations. Coincidence or Predetermination - Darien gets in the focus of different races and beyond them people from Earth....

My Take in Brief

My first sci-fi book in 2010. the lusciously start of a space opera according to my taste. It is sad that I have to wait for the sequel - The Orphaned World - until April 2010.

I spent several evenings with thinking about how to review Seeds of Earth without giving any spoiler. In the end I think I found a way to express my thoughts.

Obviously the story is divided in a prologue, 56 named chapters and an epilogue.
The prologue gives an insight on what happened 150 years ago on Earth. It reminded me partially on Starship Troopers. Each of the 56 chapters is titled with the name of the character we follow in that chapter. The epilogue gives you a few hints about what to come and that's intriguing...

Michael Cobley offers a lot of information, plots and subplots and without the change of the characters you easily would get lost. And by following the mostly well depicted characters you will easily find minimum one of them which you connect with. I must admit I liked more than one. It seems I have a knack for mechs. And so it should be no surprise that I liked the mech Drazuma-H* a lot. I really, really would like to tell more about him but that would be definitely a spoiler. Fortunately there are some more loveable characters like the as unobtrusive as mysterious Chel, an Uvovo. He changes in body and soul. Then we have Kao Chih, a descendant form the Tenebrosa colonists. Not to forget Robert Horst, the Earth ambassador and his daughter...... and "Black Theo" Theodor Karlsson former soldier who has been involved in Darien political coup some twenty years ago.
The very good thing is that each of he characters has own motives which of course collide with greater plans.

One eerie thing is the the use of AI implanted to the bodies of alien races, especially the visitors of the powerful Sendruky Hegemony coalition.

MichaelCobley created a vast and interesting world. Every time when I read about Darien Avatar the movie came up in my mind. Mostly because of the forest. The aliens are definitely aliens in shape and size and thoughts and actions and reactions.

Coming back to the plot which is more than a plot divided in subplots full of twist and turns. The story lines of the characters are insolubly interwoven with the the main plot. Beside this the story is ensnared and stuffed with history, mystery, science, drama, serendipities, emotion, battles. Not to forget a splash of philosophy.

Finally I found something which reminded me of my youth (Michael Cobley and I share not only the first name we are also the same age group. And it seems we shared the same taste for music.
Kao Chih tries to sell his audiobud (Must be something similar to a mp3-player nowadays) to an alien. Now read what kind of music the alien likes:
"... but this rokinrol is, ah, crude, harsh and fully alive, especially the Deep Purple,the Black Sabbath and the Led Zeppelin."
That means Seeds of Earth is as powerful as Smoke on the Water, as twisted as Paranoid and as epic as Stairway to Heaven.

As a lover of epic fantasy I tell you that is the kind of space opera I want to read. For me it is epic fantasy in future. I recommend it! Give it a go....

Bona Fide's Book Oracle

What is Bona Fide's Book Oracle? To keep it short. It is a palaver about the reviewed book held by ediFanoB and his alter ego Bona Fide. And I am the keeper of the minutes. Now read my minutes..

Bona: "Napoleon. NAPOLEON! Bastard! Why don't you answer me? I hate this implant." Fide: "Hey Bona, what's the matter? Once again problems with Napoleon?" Bona: "Yep. That megalomaniac AI tries to drive me mad in order to come into power!" Fide: "Maybe your choice hasn't been a clever one." Bona: "It is more than obvious why you chose a kind of Patrick AI." Fide: "Ha! You are envious! You can't imagine how relaxing the absence of intelligence is." Bona: "Unbelievable! Finally you told me your secret. That is the explanation for your permanent pribble-prabble!" Fide: "I don't know what you mean. Give me a cookie please. We can try to count crumbs afterwards [giggle]." Bona[sighing]: "You will get a cookie as soon as we finish to talk about
Seeds of Earth." Fide: "Hey Bona, how are you? Why don't we talk about Seeds of Earth? Why is it always up to me to upbraid you?" Bona [soliloquizing]: "Stay calm.Stay calm. Ask Napoleon for a plan to switch off this f*cking Patrick AI." Fide: "It is so sad. Bona is aging rapidly. Now we reached the stadium of soliloquizing. Don't desperate keeper of the minutes. I read Seeds of Earth and I would like to tell you my impressions." Bona: "Of course I read Seeds of Earth too. And of course I want to conquer the universe." Fide: "So we both read it and mentioned Seeds of Earth five times so far." Bona: "And now tell us your opinion." Fide: "Great stuff. Likable characters with own personality. Gorgeous world descriptions. A story full of twists and turns on several levels from single character to galaxy-spanning. That is epic fantasy settled in future. I want more! I want more! I want more! I want more! I want more! I want more!..." Bona[shouting]: "SHUT UP!!!!" Fide: "My work is done. Hello. It's me, Patrick. And I want to tell you that I like to sing space operas under the shower." Bona[shouting]: "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp! Keeper of the minutes,please put me out of this misery."
I'm the keeper of the minutes and I must confess Bona and Fide are going insane. Dear readers please apologize. I hope I can do something against it until our next meeting. I think you today I will go back to Bona Fide's appraisal:

Seeds of Earth is as powerful as Smoke on the Water, as twisted as Paranoid and as epic as Stairway to Heaven.

My Favorite Quote

My favorite quote is all at once a good description of the book:
"...the shooting, the event that would set the first cogs in motion, their turning bringing certain forces into play, allowing larger cogs the freedom to turn, while other things moved and stalked between the stars..." [p. 160]
More Michael Cobley

For more information about the author you can use following links: INTERSTELLAR TACTICS

More Humanity's Fire


The whole series is a trilogy. Look forward to April 2010 when book two The Orphaned World (2010) [UK], [US unknown] will be published. The final volume The Ascendant Stars is announced for 2011 [UK], [US unknown].

Origin of the copy

I bought the copy of Seeds of Earth which I read and used for this review.

10 comments:

RFYork said...

I just looked for this book in both the US and UK and cannot find it. Who is the publisher?

ediFanoB said...

RFYork,

maybe you didn't mention but we always add links for sources of supply. Just click on [US] and/or [UK]. Please try.

Alec said...

I was an inch from buying this last week but couldn't bring myself to do it because of all the characters. It just seemed like too much. Now that you say it works, I might just make the jump. + I am tired of reading nothing but fantasy.

ediFanoB said...

Hey Alec,

you know I don't read much sci-fi. But SEEDS OF EARTH is for me the perfect transition from epic fantasy to space opera. To be honest each Malazan books has more characters than SEEDS OF EARTH.

You don't get lost because "Each of the 56 chapters is titled with the name of the character we follow in that chapter." That means each chapter is told from the character's point of view.

Give it a try. I would like to know what you as an avid sci-fi reader think about it.

Seak (Bryce L.) said...

This looks really good. I like to switch from Fantasy to Sci-Fi and back and sometimes have both going at the same time. Too much fantasy and the same archetypes start to get to me.

Great review.

ediFanoB said...

Seak,

I don't read often sci-fi. As far as I can see SEEDS OF EARTH is no hardcore sci-fi and therefore as I told Alec before it is the perfect transition from epic fantasy to space opera.

I added links to five other reviews. If I can't convince people to read it then maybe the other reviews. I didn't find any damning review. That means SEEDS OF EARTH can't be that bad :)

Seak (Bryce L.) said...

@ediFanoB - I definitely trust your opinion, so far you haven't let me down. :)

Esther said...

I actually owe you a big thank you as I won my copy of SoE in the INTERSTELLAR TACTICS contest that I discovered through this blog.
It should be making an appearance in my post box soon and after reading this review I am looking forward to reading it more than ever.

Scifi is really more to my taste than fantasy especially when it involves space, aliens and alien planets.

ediFanoB said...

Esther,

first of all congratulations for winning a copy of SoE. I failed to answer the question :( Therefore I bought my own copy.
I'm glad to read that my post has been helpful for you.

I hope you like SoE as much as I did. Please let me know your impression after reading.

Since I read SoE I want to read a bit more sci-fi. Do you know a good space opera which you would recommend me?

But my love to fantasy will never peter out.

Silvia said...

It cannot have effect as a matter of fact, that's exactly what I suppose.