cover image Evening’s Empires

Evening’s Empires

Paul McAuley. Gollancz (Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $16.95 trade paper (376p) ISBN 978-0-575-10081-7

The fourth in McCauley’s Quiet War space opera series (after In the Mouth of the Whale) is a typically imaginative and complex vision of the far future. Nineteen-year-old Gajananvihari “Hari” Pilot is a member of a family of junk peddlers, who salvage what machinery they can from derelict settlements. Hari, a clone of his deceased brother, is introduced in desperate circumstances; he’s been living on a remote asteroid for over a month, following the hijacking of his family’s spaceship. Hari was the only person to escape; he managed to take with him a human head that contains valuable research files. His dull, challenging, solitary existence is interrupted when his asteroid comes under attack; after surviving the assault, he escapes to seek the truth about his family’s fate and the files’ source and contents. The book’s greatest strength is the detailed high-tech worldbuilding, which includes creations such as a cult whose members “infect themselves with mites that construct molecular archives in the bones of their skulls.” The focus on only one character makes this installment easier to follow than its predecessors. Agent: Mic Cheetham Literary Agency (U.K.). (June)