Not only are Campion and Purslane late for their 30-second reunion but they have also brought along an amnesiac golden robot for a guest. But the wayward shatterlings get more than the scolding they expect: they face the discovery that someone has a very serious grudge against the Gentian line, and there is a very real possibility of traitors in their midst. The surviving shatterlings have to dodge exotic weapons while they regroup to try to solve the mystery of who is persecuting them and why---before their ancient line is wiped out of existence forever.
©2008 Alastair Reynolds; (P)2009 Tantor
Audible listener since the late 1990s. I mostly listen to science fiction, fantasy, history, and science.
Alastair Reynolds is one of the few great writers of hard science fiction space operas working today (Vernor Vinge and Charlie Stross are others). A key premise of the book is that faster-than-light travel is just as impossible in the future as it seems today, so the characters in the novel maintain a unique existence over millions of years by traveling at relativistic speeds and placing themselves in long-term suspended animation. The result explores one of Reynold's favorite topics: Deep Time, where trips between stars take thousands of years and civilizations rise and fall as the characters complete 100,000 year circuits of the galaxy.
This serves as context for a slow-building, but fascinating tale, for which the less said, the better for you, as a listener. It takes a long time to realize the central conflict, with much action on the way, but the pieces come together satisfyingly.
The common criticism on Audible seems to be that the book is "too long" or that the ending is unsatisfying. I disagree on both counts: the ending is remarkably good, and the length seems perfect, especially for epic science fiction. If you like your science fiction hard, this is a great choice.
After listening to three other Alastair Reynolds books I'd have to say I enjoyed this one the most. I was a bit skeptical about the idea of shatterlings when I read the summary before listening and wondered if the idea was too complex to support a good story line. It was a bit confusing at first, but then came together very nicely. It really made me think about the passage of deep time. I also think narrator John Lee does a great job.
Tell us about yourself!
this is a deeply enjoyable "hard science" space opera story.
Reynolds refuses to bend the rules of relativity, and so he writes around them, in some very delightful ways. the characters, who alternate in the chapters, are hundreds of thousands of years old and have seen it all. They have fantastic spaceships and modern technology, but all of it COULD happen, given humans getting techonologically advanced enough. Nifty stuff.
The ending does fall apart a bit, story wise. But I will say that the croissant breakfast towards the end has stuck in my mind.
This is the second Reynolds novel I've purchased and I am now placing him at the top of my SF reading list along with Peter F. Hamilton. This book moves along at a fast pace and does a good job explaining complex physics in a way that even a complete novice to anything scientific (me) can understand. John Lee is fantastic again (of course). At first I couldn't follow which character was telling the story (Campion or Purslane) but it didn't bother me and as I got into the story I had no problem figuring out who was speaking. All his other characters had distinct accents and I think Lee made the voices for the two main characters the same for a very good reason. All in all, an enjoyable read that left me wishing that the story went on longer. I will definitely keep reading Reynolds' books.
I have listened to all of the available "Revelation Space" books by this author and didn't hesitate to get this one for a moment. I was not disappointed.
I very much enjoyed this book, the universe it describes is well though through and it's a welcome change from anything else I have read in a long while. The story takes a little getting used to but once you grasp the time scales involved it's not al all complicated to follow. If there is a sequel to this book I would buy it without a moments hesitation.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
House of Suns ReadMe (should have been included in the audiobook): This entire book is written First Person from three different POV's, Abigail Gentian in the 31st century before the shattering and Purslane and Campion, two of Abigail's 1000 clones (shatterlings), told 6 million years after the shattering. The book is presented in eight parts with an introduction to each part done from Abigail's time and POV and subsequent chapters within each part alternate between Purslane's and Campion's POV.
If you picked up the printed book, you would see the setup instantly - the book is not written to intentionally confuse - but it takes an hour or so to figure out what is going on in the audiobook because there is nothing to alert you to the shift in points of view. One paragraph to prevent a listener from an hour of confusion, but that was apparently just too much work for Tantor Audio - shame on them! And, I was also disappointed in John Lee. I listened to that man provide dozens of distinct voices for men and women both in 47 hours of the Count of Monte Cristo, but he provides almost NO differentiation between Abigail, Purslane, and Campion. (One girl/woman, one woman, and one man and they all sound like John Lee!) If you know how the book is organized (see ReadMe) this won't cause much trouble, but since the audio book producers didn't see fit to provide an introduction to help the listener I am completely baffled as to why John Lee couldn't have helped a bit with more character differentiation in his narration. As always, John Lee's voice is easy on the ears so if you just know what's going on, the narration is alright - just not as good as I know that man can do.
Climbing off my soapbox and getting to the good stuff - oh man, I LOVED this book. House of Suns has been in my wish list for ages, but I just couldn't get a sense of whether I would like this author so I put off trying this. However, after recently pickling my brain on too much candified sci-fi, I was really itching for some of the real thing and House of Suns is recommended by a couple of reviewers I've come to trust so I took the plunge. To me it reads sort of like Asimov with a liberal sprinkling of Neil Gaiman and Rod Serling. I would bet that if you tweak to the eerie, if you love the hair raising tingle of The Twilight Zone, you'll enjoy House of Suns.This is a cosmic mystery with a couple of "real-time" who-dunnit subplots along the way, peopled with wonderful characters, and just enough quantum physics to let the mind go with flow without too much math to slow down the plot. This story grabbed me from the beginning and never let go - the writing is great and the eerie tension of the plot is sustained until the very end. I thought the ending was PERFECT. You get a true conclusion with real poignancy and just a enough left unexplained that your mind can still ruminate over possible answers for many days after you finish. (Who was the real Abigail anyway?) The story doesn't need any additional chapters, but I would love to see a sequel because I would really enjoy further exploration of this universe in the company of the oh-so-personable shatterlings.
One last note, there are a couple of references in Reynolds writing to King Crimson songs, but the little Easter Egg that got to me the most I haven't seen mentioned in reviews. House of Suns is partially inspired by the story of Sarah Winchester. Because I have been to Winchester House, I suddenly recognized that story (which is fascinating) incorporated into this novel. Sarah Winchester has inspired a lot of authors, but I haven't seen her in sci-fi before - very cool.
If you like your sci-fi with light sabers and monsters, House of Suns might not be for you. But if you perk to the mysterious and eerie and can handle a few hours of not knowing who your friends are, you'll love House of Suns.
Reynolds has established himself as one of the pre-eminent contemporary science fiction writers. More so than most of his fellow authors, Reynolds manages to push the boundaries of the genre in new directions. House of Suns begins as a typical sci-fi story with cloned copies of a progenitor line traveling the galaxy in light speed vessels with a periodic reunion to swap experiences and memories. Initially, the story begins along a sinister track with unknown forces out to destroy the line for unknown reasons. Gradually the tale evolves to a more complex endeavor that unearths machine intelligence, past atrocities, and secret societies. The ending also resolves a mystery that is developed early in the tale.
What sets House of Suns apart from other stories is the extreme futuristic setting. Typical sci-fi stories propose scientific progress as an exponential process, such that even a couple of hundred or at most a thousand years is more than enough to reach a pinnacle with a plateau effect. Reynolds places this tale, more than 6 million years in the future. Even the beginning of the clone line was begun well after our present time. Given the relativistic limitations that are preserved, 6 million years of action is not experienced, but the temporal dissonance of the story is palpable and is similar to explaining calculus to students learning to count. Buckle up, the ride is exhilarating.
This was a great standalone novel by Mr. Reynolds. No need to have read any of his other works to enjoy this one fully.
I enjoyed it so much I chose to listen to it even outside the normal listening time of my daily commute.
It took me a while (I'm a bit slow sometimes, especially with intermittent listening) to realize that the first person narrative changed characters every chapter. The voices are not greatly different, so I was confused by the narrative and character names. Once I realized that the first person changed chapter-by-chapter, things began to make more sense.
This book covers vast expanses of time and space - millions of years, millions of light years. Ships the size of cities; people with lifespans measured in millions of years. The story was very engaging at times, very drawn out and, dare I say, boring at other times. I found the interrogation of the four prisoners and the "funeral scene" particularly long and boring, unnecessary to the storyline. These sections could have been almost entirely eliminated without harming the story. I almost quit listening entirely during the funeral portion because it was long and pointless.
Overall, I'd have to say I liked the book because of the ideas and concepts presented. However, I had little emotional connection with the characters.
I found the narrator John Lee easy to listen to, though I wish his voice characterizations had more "personality". Most of the characters sounded very much alike in tone, tenor, pacing. There were a few who had different accents, which helped, but the main characters were too similar for me, especially early in the book before I picked up on the subtle differences.
I probably will not be seeking more Alastair Reynolds books anytime soon.
Thickly written and completely textured with a (somewhat) romantic point of view/perspective (aka rose colored glasses). Very unusual storyline from a very competent writer. Interesting. Somehow, a tad disappointing at the end... but just a tad (I think I expected JUST a bit more from this author 'cause he's very good). BIGtime. Don't get me wrong: this IS a VERY intriguing author with unusual ideas.
"Reynolds gets better and better"
Alastair Reynolds publishes books with such a rapidity it is truly astonishing that each is so good. He has certainly become one of the great masters of Space Opera. He is consistently brilliant unlike the erratic Iain M Banks who only has flashes of Sci-Fi brilliance.
House of Suns proved to be an excellent, involving read which is intriguingly and shrewdly paced and plotted. And it is read with a great sympathy for his style of writing - great to hear a British voice for a British novelist - which adds to the enjoyment.
I never got far beyond the first fifty pages reading the novel but this recording engaged much more quickly and it just got better every page. I do hope they'll go back and record 'Century Rain' now with the same narrator
"Mr Reynolds does it again"
Fatastic story and the characters are really in depth and believeable (although slightly similar to characters from other books of his; but this is kinda unavoidable). My only complaint with this book it that it simply does not finish it only ends. Alastair Reynolds is top notch sci fi writer but please can someone help him to finish a story??? I was looking forward to the sequel to House of Suns until I realised there wasn't one. Shame as it really lends itself to a Revelation Space-type triology.
"House of suns"
Excellent story well read, money well spent.
"Enjoyable but not outstanding"
I listend to this book and enjoyed going back to it each day, never feeling I wanted to give up. The story was entertainging and I would recomend it, however it does not stnd out to me as outstanding - just a good book work listening to.
I liked the acent of this narator
I m currently listen to "Revalation space" which is a bit of a slog in comparision, however I am persisting with it.
"Confusing at first, but keep with it"
I say confusing because the story has two main characters, and the nearrative keeps swapping between them. However once you get used to this it keep you on your toes wanting to know what the other character is thinking at this point. Add to that an excellent main storyline with some cracking sub plots, and John Lee's excellent narration and you really do want a sequel to know what happens next!
The best part of this story is that the science behind it is well thought out, Light speed is still a barrier in this future, but there are many ways to beat the years it takes to travel anywhere. Black hole generators for power and gravity just as we are currently learning to make micro black holes, and excellent extrapolation from now to then.
"House of Suns"
Who wants to kill all the Gentian shatterlings and why? This is what I would describe as proper scifi; strange aliens, lots of space travel and strange future technology. This was the second book by Alastair Reynolds that I listened to (I can also recommend Terminal World). Wonderfully read by John Lee. A great listen.
"Way to go !"
I simply don't believe it ! I am in awe and an unrepentant fan, the scope of his imagination, the characters, in this case a love story spanning time and space, a great yarn that spins its way across millions of years and takes as read sci-fi staples, held me rapt and delighted.
"house of sons"
Another good book by the author. lots of good characters and plot. John Lee brings out the best of the book in his narration.
"Nicely paced and captivating"
The story follows well but with the narration it can get confusing when switching when switching characters in the Gentian Line. Worth a listen.
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