This month, Ace is thrilled to publish Blue Remembered Earth, the first in a new trilogy of nearfuture science fiction novels by acclaimed author Alastair Reynolds. Read what the author has to say about the inspiration for the books!
In 2008 I got the chance to visit the Kennedy Space Center and see the launch of a space shuttle literally a lifetime’s dream for this diehard enthusiast of the space program. As it happened, the launch was postponed (although I did get to see the rescheduled mission in 2009) but the trip to KSC nonetheless planted a seed which eventually germinated in the form of this book. At the time I was aware of a growing optimism partly tied in with the upcoming anniversary of the Apollo landings about our chances of returning to the Moon, and eventually going on to Mars and beyond.
As it happened, that optimism turned out to be misplaced within a year it was clear that the new Moon program was too expensive to be feasible but it still seemed to me the right time to be writing about a grand expansion into the Solar System, done with an eye on technological plausibility. That’s half the genesis of Blue Remembered Earth. But the other part of the picture is my enthusiasm for African music, something that had really caught fire in 2008. I found myself listening to a great many West African musicians and somewhere along the line an image came to me of an African woman, standing on the bridge of some kind of ship, contemplating a terrible decision she must make. I knew nothing about this woman except that she was a long way from home. With the image in mind, though, I started thinking seriously about the background history and geopolitics of my new book and I became fascinated with the idea of making my main characters mostly African, in a 22nd century in which a federated Africa is a major technological and economic powerhouse, much as we now regard China. It seemed to me that this would allow me to write about some of my key obsessions our destiny in space, artificial intelligence, the existence or absence of alien life from a very different standpoint than allowed by the Revelation Space books.
Oddly enough, with the recent surge of interest in commercial space activities, we seem to be back in a more optimistic mindset again. But as I hope is clear from Blue Remembered Earth, and its sequels, I’m trying to take the long view, rather than allow myself to be too strongly constrained by the swerves and reversals of the early 21st century.