The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is an extremely hard book to review not because I can give too much away (I can't) or because I'm conflicted about how much I like this (I'm not).
Indeed, I actually want to rave about it and tell the world that something really special has finally been published that dives seriously deep into future history, has an amazingly complex world-building, and it even manages to remain connected to the things we understand DESPITE adding a zero to the time-frame. Can you say Culture novels? Or some of the far-future Reynolds books?
Enter Toner with a novel that will NOT be on the top of most people's reading lists, unfortunately, but it is not because it's a bad tale or written in a way that will turn people off. Indeed, while reading it, I'm rather impressed that it's easy to follow, but at the same time, it's the little disturbing details that always trip us up.
Far future humanity has splintered into many different races. There are no aliens. We are the aliens. But for these people living in the future, it's all kinds of normal as if they were only traveling to different lands with strange cultures. And indeed, there are many strange cultures. There are immortals who have lived so long that they have forgotten their own names. There are hollowed-out planets. There's boating, void-ships, bird-people, and an empire intrigue.
But mostly, all the devils are in the details. It requires careful reading to pick up on all the best tidbits.
In other words, this is a book to be savored, re-read, and held onto for the sake of a fandom that will eventually, if slowly, rise to cradle this work. What it needs is a cult-following.
I'm willing to join the throng. :) Help contribute to a wiki-page devoted to it. Help find the easter eggs. :)
I only wish that this was READ more so we could all find each other and show off our knowledge of the worldbuilding :) Of course, that means I need to read the two other novels and re-read this one as well. Maybe several times.
Did I mention that I'm conflicted? It's not flashy and it's definitely not a throwaway book. It is, however, one that demands effort.
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