Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley

The Quiet War is over. The city states of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn have fallen to the Three Powers Alliance of Greater Brazil, the European Union and the Pacific Community. A century of enlightenment, rational utopianism and exploration of new ways of being human has fallen dark. Outers are herded into prison camps and forced to collaborate in the systematic plundering of their great archives of scientific and technical knowledge, while Earth’s forces loot their cities, settlements and ships, and plan a final solution to the ‘Outer problem’. But Earth’s victory is fragile, and riven by vicious internal politics. While seeking out and trying to anatomise the strange gardens abandoned in place by Avernus, the Outers’ greatest genius, the gene wizard Sri Hong-Owen is embroiled in the plots and counterplots of the family that employs her. The diplomat Loc Ifrahim soon discovers that profiting from victory isn’t as easy as he thought. And in Greater Brazil, the Outers’ democratic traditions have infected a population eager to escape the tyranny of the great families who rule them. After a conflict fought to contain the expansionist, posthuman ambitions of the Outers, the future is as uncertain as ever. Only one thing is clear. No one can escape the consequences of war – especially the victors.

Ignoring the strange choice of title (given the success of Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, albeit in a different genre), Pyr Books have another winner on their hands. I love the green overtones, a colour generally associated with Fantasy, but that works wonders for bringing out the character of space, and the bold splash of complimentary red from the ship in the lower corner. The use of a cursive font is odd, but I suppose it hints to the potential reader that they’re not picking up a hardcore Space Opera.

The painting is the work of the wonderful Sparth.

  • Adam Whitehead November 10, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    More SF novels need pictures of giant spaceships on the cover these days. I’m remembering the glory days of Chris Foss and the enormous spaceships and robots he did for the likes of Isaac Asimov books and the TRAVELLER roleplaying game. Great times.

  • Liviu November 10, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Actually the ship in question is called Elephant and it should be pink though it also gets disguised/camouflaged around in the novels too, but I guess red looks better; loved the book a lot, great ending to the duology; I like the UK cover too – more sober but evocative too