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House of Suns Mass Market Paperback – May 25, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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"A thrilling, mind- boggling adventure."
-The Times (UK)
"Reynolds's approach seems new, exciting, vibrant."
"A sweeping, audacious slice of galactic-scale intrigue and subterfuge."
"Reynolds has once again created a galaxy-spanning, mind-boggling stage on which to set a gripping, thoughtful, intelligent drama."
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Top Customer Reviews
House of Suns is that novel - epic space opera on a large scale but with characters you can identify with, hard sf based on the current understanding of the limits of science and a touch of fantasy and romance to complete it.
Based on the Thousandth Night novella published in the 1M AD anthology, with the same universe and characters, though different action, the story takes place in a mostly human dominated Galaxy 6M years in the future, with everything allowed except causality busting - so no ftl - moving planets out of danger, Dyson spheres, cloning, intelligent robots, immortality, matter replicators, damming stars - anything conceivable today that stays within the limits of our physical understanding of the Universe is there.
Civilizations rise and fall, but towering over them are the Lines, groupings of originally 1000 immortal shatterlings though in time some are lost to attrition - all clones of a single person to start with - that have the most advanced ships, tech, and go on Circuits around the Galaxy, meeting once every 200k years to mix their memories.Read more ›
There is no warp drive in this universe though. You only stay youthful by means of relativistic time dilation and a type of stasis that slows the passage of time. There is still plenty of awe inspiring technology however.
The main characters are the "shatterlings" who started out as clones of various family lines at the start of the star faring age. We are mainly concerned with the "Gentian" Line whose originator was Abigail Gentian whose own story is told in a series of interludes. Each line started with 1000 clones and their mission has been to circle the galaxy doing various good works and trading with the sometimes highly modified human civilizations that have grown up along the way. After every galactic circuit the shatterlings of each line meet to share their experiences.
Campion and Purslane are two of the Gentian line who have become romantically involved which is not the done thing with shatterlings. At the start of the story they are on their way to the latest reunion where they expect to be censured for violating line protocol. They have also picked up a mysterious robot passenger called Hesperus. A distress call is received: most of the Gentian line has been wiped out by an attack on the reunion. The survivors, together with Campion and Purslane regroup on another planet where they try to understand what has happened. The resolution reveals some unpleasant truths that have previously been suppressed from everyone's collective memory.Read more ›
One of the age old problems in science fiction is that of the speed of light. How can one write a decent space opera, with exotic starships visiting improbable planets, without violating the speed limit? Reynolds decides to stick with relativistic limitations (well, mostly) by playing with the other side of the equation: time. The result is an extraordinary mystery story at galactic scale, in which (for a few travellers) time is measured in thousands, even millions of years.
"House of Suns" is an audacious work. I've enjoyed all of Reynolds' earlier books: even though the stories were more conventional than, say, those of Iain M. Banks, Reynolds confident mastery of his material has been undeniable. In the new book, he takes quite a few risks, and gets away with them. The conclusion... well, my first reaction was confusion, but I found myself realizing how utterly apposite it was.
Comparison between writers is invidious, but inevitable. Right now, two of the best science fiction writers are British: Banks and Reynolds. Before "House of Suns", I would have said that Banks was clearly the greater talent. Now, I'm not so sure. What fun!
I have a few points in mind. The whole Palacial backstory that fills pages and pages. I kept waiting for it to somehow be integrated into the main story in some meaningful way. It never happened. Why was it there? And then the whole point that one of the shatterlings is indeed not a clone at all. But... we never hear which one. And as some reviewers pointed out, there are moments where you get the impression that the author is trying to engender some feeling of awe and grandeur and... doesn't.
All is not mediocre though. I enjoyed the whole meeting with Hesperus, and the ambush and all that.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating! This book blew me away. I fell in love with Alastair Reynold's writing after reading the novella: Troika. Read morePublished 11 days ago by gfkokai
I'm new to Alastair Reyolds' writing, but I thought I'd give it a try. This book has all the classic shortcomings of SciFi (pronounced "skiffy")--plethora of detail,... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Ruth B. Kaplan
I do NOT like everything Reynolds writes, nothing since he left Revelation Space. But I loved this book! Very satisfying world, characters, and conflict. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Algernon Cauruthers
As usual, Alastair Reynolds paints a rich universe of fantastic far future science fiction. More focused and complete than some of his other works, it wraps up well but also leaves... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Joseph Chambers
Galaxy scale tale spanning from some kind of early scatter to evolved strongholds, featuring untold and hither to unknown revenge.Published 2 months ago by Steen Egeberg
Pretty entertaining, but lacking far fetching sense of doom or something like it. I could never believe that there was any real danger.Published 3 months ago by Michael Sund
Solid work, interesting premise, kept me enthralled throughout; I will definitely try other works by this author.Published 4 months ago by Brant Gardner
Still one of my current favorite authors of SciFi. Another great adventure across deep time.Published 4 months ago by Gary L. Wade