Sean Williams

The Grand Conjunction

posted on 12 Aug 2011 at 11:08 pm

The first review of The Grand Conjunction has hit the screens, thanks to Liviu Suciu at Fantasy Book Critic.  I was a bit nervous at first (I’m not often called “audacious and unconventional”, like it’s a good thing) but it worked out very well in the end:

“I would say the best in all the series and the novel succeeds grandly indeed.  Highly, highly recommended.”

Gary of Concept Sci-fi has given me my second review of The Grand Conjunction, and it’s as exciting as the first.  Not just for lines like “epic space scenes spanning portions of time that the mind can barely comprehend” and “the words just seem to flow so easily that you’re halfway through the book before you even realise it” and “an absolute winner and a joy to read“, although they are of course wonderful on every level.  I’m excited for two other reasons.

One: Gary liked the ending.  “All of the loose ends are tied up nicely, and you’re left with a nice warm ‘cosy’ feeling rather than a ‘is that it?’ feeling.”  That concurs with Liviu Suciu‘s “the ending is pitch perfect“, and suggests that I nailed at least one of my objectives (perhaps two, counting the humungous space battles).  After being criticised for leaving readers unsatisfied in previous series, I was determined to do it differently this time. I listen to feedback, and I know there’s always room to improve. Looks like I did something right here.

Two: Gary again echoes Liviu, who said about the beginning, “I had to close the book and look at the cover to make sure I am reading the right book and then flip some pages to make sure pages from another book were not inserted inside by mistake – so great was the cognitive dissonance I suffered”.  Gary’s response was similar: “My initial reaction on pages one and two was ‘what the hell has this got to do with Astropolis?‘ But the truth is that this bit of the book was actually the best bit for me.”  He concludes: “Sean really has proved that he’s an exceptionally talented writer who doesn’t just do sci-fi and fantasy – Sean, if you’re listening, you REALLY should write a detective novel!”

I’m listening, and I’m very pleased indeed.

Thank you, Simon A of Bookgeek, for this awesome line:

“breathless space combat and desperate gambits…a truly jaw-dropping piece of SF extrapolation and large-scale thinking”

But the review is a masterpiece in and of itself, and a touching lament to Imre Bergamasc. Farewell indeed. I’m going to miss the old gal.

(That isn’t a spoiler, btw, except on the issue of gender. There’ll be no more in the series, so what happens next is entirely up to your imagination.)

Also, from The Age: “Williams’ world-building skills–and the ambition and intricacy of his ideas–make this top-flight SF fiction” (with a superfluous “fiction” there, thrown in as a bonus).

And Stuart Mayne in aurealisXpress: “rip roaring science fiction adventure… [Sean Williams] he has the ability to invent horizons that defy belief. That is a grand gift.”

Not Free SF:
Resexed rising redux. … A complex and psychologically dense work. Some of Williams’ space operatic counterparts could probably take a lesson or two in bloat trimming from this gentleman.” (Ouch!)

“…a vast, many chambered volume that actually manages to surpass its predecessors Saturn Returns, Cenotaxis and Earth Ascendant. … A continuation of those novels? Yes. The same philosophical and cordial prose we have come to love? Yes. But what lies at this novel’s heart is more layered in its transparency. Like a Russian Doll, the revelations slide away in a manner that the author himself probably found unexpected and even humorous.” (True.)

Terra Incognita:
“This is a tale of unimaginable span. … It doesn’t seem possible that a series of books could do or contain more. The Grand Conjunction concludes a grand achievement. Five stars.”