Gardens of the Sun
by Paul McAuley
Review by Mel Jacob
Pyr Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616141967
Date: 23 March 2010 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Acclaimed author Paul McAuley continues his tour of the outer solar system begun in The Quiet War in his sequel, Gardens of the Sun this time reaching to Neptune, Pluto, and Uranus,. Brazilian gene wizard, Sri Hong-Owen, continues her pursuit of the Outers' Avenus. Ambition drives her to seek clues in the various gardens Avenus has created throughout the moons of the Saturn, Jupiter, and beyond. Greater Brazil, having defeated the Outers, now proceeds to mine their technology, loot their culture, and occupy the major settlements. Mercy and accommodation with the conquered has no part in their goal. They seek means to increase their technological superiority and leverage it to gain money and prestige for the ruling families.
Personalities from the first novel continue here. Loc Ifrahim, diplomat, plotter, and conniver continues to seek personal advantage and wreck havoc on others. Cash Baker destroyed by Sri when he tried to shoot Avenus down, is resurrected as a war hero, but memory gaps create conflicts and problems. One of Sri's Dave clones, created as spies and assassins, now believes he is in love with the rebel Zi Li, and defects to seek her. Macy Minot, a whiz with soil genetics, has survived the war and fled with Newt Jones, an Outer space tug captain, to Neptune.
Persecution of the Outers and scientists continue so prison camps on Outer moons and on Earth's moon expand. However, the rebellion festers among the Outers, with Greater Brazil's allies, and on Earth against the ruling families and takes a high human toll. Politicians come and go while Greater Brazil fights change to preserve the hegemony of its ruling families.
While McAuley's descriptions of the moons and Outers' settlements and adaptations fascinate, at times they overpower the main story. Those characters who endure, learn, and adapt, and thrive. Those who do not fall by the wayside. By the end of the novel, McAuley has provided destinies for his major characters. Some die or evolve so much they no longer share much with humans. At the end, he leaves several openings for more exploration if he chooses. .