In the 24th century humans have moved to space and begun terraforming Mercury, Venus, Mars and countless moons and asteroids. Earth hasn’t been forgotten though, and is still the center of much conflict. The wondrous, vivid descriptions of the beauty of the solar system grabbed me from the first page. The story revels in music, art, and revolution. The terrforming is spectacular – ice moons are carved up and slammed into Venus to make rain and snow. Asteroids become spaceships and havens for species whose homes have been destroyed on Earth. It’s a beautiful book, and I would highly recommend it.

The story follows Swan, a designer of terrarium (asteroids turned into spaceships/habitats), after the death of her grandmother, the Lion of Mercury. Swan is left with finishing her grandmother’s work; investigating strange qubes (quantum computers), and the trouble on Earth. Every couple of chapters are ‘Extracts’ which reveal tantalizing details about Earth’s history, space culture and the colonization of space, and also what comes after the events of 2312.

The story actually moved kind of slowly, but I didn’t really notice. The book was a joy to read. The technology is incredible, but the focus is on people and culture and the beauty of space. Slowly as the story moves along the troubles with Earth, and the politics of the space colonies are revealed.

Swan is an unusual character, difficult to describe. She’s rash, kind, untrustworthy, brilliant and temperamental, among other things. The other characters are equally contradictory and engaging.

Overall: Read the first page, a description of sunrise on Mercury. If that doesn’t grab you, you probably won’t enjoy the book. If it does – no more needs to be said.

 

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