The Grand Conjunction is set, at least to begin with, around 700,000 years after Earth Ascendant which, in reality, is headache inducing. Luckily enough there is a short chapter at the start that basically outlines what has gone on since the start of the series. This is a good thing, at least in my opinion, as the series can feel very fractured at the best of times and this primer brings it together nicely. Once we get into the novel proper we find a very unusual thing: a fifties noir detective story. That’s what it reads like, and lasting for almost a quarter of the novel it is slightly overlong and disruptive to the pace that should have been present at the beginning, although it is fully tied into the plot. Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading this section, but in the context of the story it felt misplaced and unnecessary. Once we get into the story proper things continue along at a good pace, following ties to Imre’s fort-self, the Luminous and the Barons.
I must admit that although The Grand Conjunction was enjoyable, the time differences ultimately made things a little too difficult to get my head into the book properly. Coming off Earth Ascendant and finding the main character thrust so far into the future with events having continued in his absence was the one thing that the story couldn’t save itself from. The time spans involved are the essence of this story, and providing you can keep enjoying the novel and following details despite these you will find a rewarding series in Astropolis. Unfortunately this strength was my downfall and although I quite happily devoured the novel, some distant past details eluded me.
If you have the time I would strongly suggest reading the Astropolis series back-to-back to fully appreciate the dizzying time spans that Sean Williams has presented here. With such a grand offering I can only tell you that I’m not disappointed in the novel, but in myself for not being able to enjoy to its fullest.