Read my share of technical papers, as part of the day job. Concise, spare expositions that have data, assumptions, analysis and conclusions, all within the 7 page length limit. And I'll admit, sometimes my mind has wandered, placing these in stories fleshed with human participants and human emotions. One way to find more meaning in the cool things that science makes.
I'm back in that place, listening to the audiobook version of [b:Blue Remembered Earth|9424053|Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidon's Children, #1)|Alastair Reynolds|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1318599915s/9424053.jpg|14308470]. Lots of cool stuff --- golem personalities, next generation 'internet', a puzzle that spreads pieces on the Moon, Mars, Mercury, the Kuiper belt. A well-developed backstory - Africa ascendant, elephants and whales, a truly inscrutable matriarch, a single-family solar system spanning conglomerate. And yet I am still adding my own elements to the story, sure sign that I am not entirely engaged --- such as: what if there were more to the cousins other than following the protagonists through the puzzle, they are business executives after all, and what if Geoffrey had a personal passion or love other than his scientific research of elephants, and his sister had a more complex relationship with Jitendra, and so on.
Granted this is the first of a series, and Reynolds will be building on these basic elements to expand into, hopefully, more interesting plot threads. But my expectations were based on the marvelous achievement of [b:House of Suns|1126719|House of Suns|Alastair Reynolds|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328058140s/1126719.jpg|2020929], and instead find a piece that hearkens back to the earlier [b:Revelation Space|89187|Revelation Space|Alastair Reynolds|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1306807253s/89187.jpg|219037].
Despite all of my reservations, this is still a cut above the typical SF fare that I'll probably still want to read the next book. There's enough here, a mustard seed perhaps, but a good next effort can certainly do wonders to re-engaging this series.