cover image Seeds of Earth

Seeds of Earth

Michael Cobley. Orbit, $7.99 mass market (496p) ISBN 978-1-84149-631-3

Cobley’s debut, first published in the U.K. in 2009, is a well-constructed space opera with a sense of vast scope, populated with an array of beautifully differentiated intelligences both organic and artificial. A lost human colony planet, Darien, is discovered by an Earth spy ship in the Huvuun Deepzone, territory contested between the Brolturan Compact, who have allied with the militaristic Sendruka Hegemony, and the Imisil Mergence. Darien faces its own internal crisis as its Scottish, Russian, and Norwegian citizens and the intelligent Uvovo, whose planet the humans peacefully share, react to the return of Earth’s influence and appearance of its representative, laid-back ambassador Robert Horst. The Uvovo face a menace from their ancient past that hates all organic life, while Horst and his contemporaries rely heavily on their AIs. Despite a few inconsistencies, this is a thick and satisfying 10-course meal of starchy pageantry, meaty characters, bitter losses, and sweet romance. (Sept.)