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.
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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.
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.
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.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
God-like human clones ("shatterlings"), mysterious machine people, countless galactic meta-civilizations rising and falling ("turnover"), 200,000 year reunions, memory and data "troves" millions of years old, near-speed of light interstellar travel in near-sentient spaceships, macro wars and micro wars, star-dams and wormholes, homunculus weapons and gamma canons, an addicting sinister fantasy "game," and more, all playing key roles in Alastair Reynolds' House of Suns, his page-turning space opera story of charming incestuous romance, Byzantine intrigue, appalling treachery, ferocious revenge, desperate pursuit, and fitting karma. Reynolds' first-person narrators, Abigail, Purslane, and Campion, are appealing, his machine person Hesperus charismatic. Neat themes about memory (repressed, recovered, or shared) and the curiosity, bravery, cruelty, glory, and futility of human nature and endeavor. An appropriate climax and a satisfying resolution.
John Lee's reading of the novel is excellent, clear and nuanced and savory, with effective use of different pitches and accents (to make it easier to differentiate the various cloned Shatterlings and machine people from each other). Some listeners have said that it is not easy to tell Campion and Purslane narrating their alternate chapters, but if you can't catch Lee's slightly more growly Campion and subtly more feminine Pursulane, you can just wait for one of them to say the other's name or keep in mind which one narrated the previous chapter, and it's not difficult to follow.
In conclusion, listening to Reynolds' novel read by Lee was by turns entertaining, awe-inspiring, humorous, exciting, thought-provoking, and moving.
Some have said that this book is long and does not go anywhere. I disagree. The book's mysteries are given up nicely as the journey progresses and the end has a lessen for man kind. I not only enjoyed the journey I liked the ending. It took a while for me to get used to the idea that someone can live a million years. Even if most of the time was spent in stasis. Think of the possibilities!
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