THE PROMISE OF THE CHILD Land of Confusion
released 19 November 544 pages | Paperback/ebook Author Tom Toner Publisher Gollancz
“Sense of wonder” is a vital ingredient in science fiction, especially in space opera – as readers, we want new, exciting and complex worlds to explore. But there’s a fine line between complex and baffling, and it’s a line that colourful new SF epic The Promise Of The Child doesn’t always stay the right side of.
Set in a distant future where humanity has evolved into dozens of different species, it’s the story of the latter days of the Amaranthine Firmament, a civilisation that’s in danger of being overwhelmed by the bizarre “Prism” races.
The leisurely plot focuses on a number of disparate characters as a mysterious figure known as Aaron the Long-Life manipulates events, but Tom Toner keeps the narrative diffuse for much of the tale, which makes for an odd, sometimes frustrating experience.
Toner’s tremendous imagination and lyrical prose help counteract some of these issues, although the literary style remains challenging throughout. Closest in tone to the dense, intellectual style of SF authors like Hannu Rajaniemi, The Promise Of The Child is a beautifully crafted read that’s evocative and hugely inventive, but also not for the easily perplexed. Saxon Bullock
Toner’s dream cast for a movie includes Ed Harris and Marion Cotillard, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Aaron.
A design for Discovery’s pods. The Monolith started off looking very different.