The first chapter immediately brings to mind the extreme isolation depicted in films such as Gravity and Moon. The act of eating a Banana, for example – an object and act in such stark contrast to the surroundings – is described in such microscopic detail, the reader is immersed in the moment.
This is an ambitious project, and the author is off to a good start. I want to find out more about this version of the universe and the characters who inhabit it. The writing style is unmistakably sci-fi, not overly cluttered, at times this works brilliantly, but can also leave the reader confused. I admit I felt a bit like I was adrift in space myself; this universe needs more of an introduction to the reader before they can really engage with it. We're often telling authors not to give so much away, to give their readers more credit, but it's hard not to feel like the reader just needs a little more help.
McEwan introduces some intriguing ideas from the outset. Spaceships containing entire frozen oceans, and the idea of gestalt beings (which I’m not entirely sure I understand). I hope more will be revealed later, but it would be helpful to give the reader an idea of what these being are and the implications of their existence on mankind.
There’s a lot of potential here, so why not give it a read and share your thoughts with the author. Here’s the pitch:
"You are a component; purpose unknown."
Being the space and time of Skidmore Shuffledeck, galactic mechanic.
Tutored on the machine world of Perridi, Skidmore takes his first steps into a space divided. The human diaspora is in full swing, just not in the twelve worlds, where Horatio Holroyd bends the void and Yours Truly chases his tail. Or on the cusp of the apocalypse, where Terminals seek the star at the centre of the universe - that they might destroy it.
Skidmore has to learn fast. Firstly, interspatial displacement, aka "the trumpet". Secondly, himself, and who he can trust. For the difference between man and machine is the difference between passive stoicism and frenzied blood.