Book Review: The Memory of Sky
The Memory of Sky: A Greatship Trilogy by Robert Reed
Paperback: 624 pages
Publisher: Prime Books
Language: English
ISBN : 978-1607014263


The Creation is a vast hollow sphere, divided at the equator by the demon wall. People live at the top of the Creation in a great forest of hanging trees, honeycombed with homes and public spaces, wrapped in walkways, balconies, ladders, and elevators, and connected by airships. Just above the equator, and encircling the entire Creation, is the reef, the ancient remnant structure left behind by vast numbers of tiny organisms an inhabited by the papio, the other sentient species sharing the Creation. Below the equator and separated from the rest of the Creation by the demon wall is a realm of furious heat and crushing pressure, filled with a forest that grows to block out the sun every few days before dying back, and inhabited by the coronas - vast and strange creatures who can somehow penetrate the demon wall from time to time to enter the cooler world of people and the papio and who are hunted for their incredibly tough scales, body parts, and organs, which are used in the creation of large portions of the technology of people and papio alike.

In this world, we meet Diamond, a strange and seemingly unhealthy little boy, who we soon learn is much more than he appears. Diamond is rather different looking from ‘normal’ people and is nearly indestructible, able to heal almost instantly from virtually any injury (even to the point of reattaching lost limbs and having them reintegrate with his body seamlessly in a matter of minutes), with a brain that is both incredibly tough and incredibly capable. Diamond never forgets anything, ever, and learns far faster than a normal person.

At first Diamond is kept hidden away from the outside world by his parents. But then he goes outside one day, and is discovered. Later still, we learn that there are other strange children in the Creation, all of them both similar to but also drastically different from Diamond. And then things start to get interesting…

OA Relevance: Low to Moderate

In The Memory of Sky, Reed returns us to his Great Ship universe which, as a hard science setting of considerable depth and complexity, might be said to have some kinship with OA. At the same time, Reed’s universe is quite different from OA and this story (or set of stories, it’s actually billed as a trilogy), is significantly different from anything found in the OA setting. With a bit of tweaking, something like the Creation might exist somewhere in the Terragen Bubble and something like the rapid healing depicted might as well. But the potential carryover is less strong than is seen in other books that have been reviewed here. The Creation is not going to be mistaken for some random system in OA that just needs a few word changes to fit right in.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

Robert Reed is a highly accomplished author and tells a fascinating story here, the more so because the characters are more developed and fleshed out than we have seen in his Great Ship works. The people here feel joys and sorrows, doubts and fears, rather unlike the implacably indestructible and ancient almost beyond comprehension transhumans of the Great Ship. This gives the story a rather fresh and light feeling, despite the subject matter and the enclosed and walled off nature of the Creation. Fans of the Great Ship stories will recognize races and elements from that setting (this story is set in the same universe after all), but if this is your first exposure to Reed’s setting, don’t worry, you don’t need to know the background to enjoy the book.

On the down side, the last third of the book seems to somewhat rush to a close and we are left at the end with more questions than we have answers as to what the Creation is, how its people got there, and what is going to happen next. Hopefully there will be a sequel to tie up the various loose ends. Then again, I’m still waiting for a sequel to The Well of Stars and that doesn’t seem to be forthcoming any time soon.

Overall Rating: Very good - The Memory of Sky is a good, solid read that lets us see another part of Reed’s Great Ship universe. Will probably leave you hoping for a sequel to find out what happens next and what is going on in the bigger picture.

Reviewed by Todd Drashner

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