THE PROM­ISE OF THE CHILD Land of Con­fu­sion

SFX - - Re­views -

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.

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