This is a book of ideas and descriptions, not characters and plot. It’s primarily about literal world-building, with the author providing excruciating detail on how the human civilization will colonize the vastness of space. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is the book for you.
It’s also a very, very long book that feels even longer as a mashup of lengthy descriptions and digressions. I’ve spent countless hours trying to get through the bulk of this book, and I can barely describe the “story” as anything more than the main character traveling around, visiting places. She runs into other characters, who converse only to provide some context for the next place on this seemingly limitless tour around the known universe.
Reading this whale of a book is exhausting, frequently frustrating as the author falls down another multi-page rabbit hole of verbose descriptions, and worse still, pretty boring.
During my glacially slow progress through this tome, I had the following thoughts:
At 30%… holy sh!t there’s a suggestion of a plot. Turns out, the story is a pretty standard mystery about the destruction of a large human settlement.
At 50%, I muscled through. Keep wishing the author would just stay on target, and not get distracted with more pages of technical jargon about another biome or tech or belief.
At around 65%, I lost my positive outlook on actually getting through to the end. The writing style is just too convoluted, where every line feels like it’s missing lengthy footnotes just to explain what it’s trying to convey. Even without them, your stuck with descriptions like these:
“This terrarium she was in now, with Genette, whose presence would definitely keep her oriented to her task, was an old flame, the Bantian Kongzhong Yizou Men, meaning “The Door in the Middle of Half the Empty Sky,” which was one of the many Chinese euphemisms for the vulva.”
I finally got to 100%, using sheer willpower to keep turning the pages. It feels like a real achievement, in the sense that collecting all the collectibles in a video game should be: Not fun, but feeling well earned.