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Sister Alice Hardcover – October 1, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The members of the Families were cloned from carefully selected individuals and given godlike powers to keep the peace. They have served well enough, and then Alice, one of the oldest Chamberlains, returns with news of a pocket universe in the galactic core that will destroy a vast swathe of the highly populated central galaxy. Ord, the Baby Chamberlain, is charged with finding explanations and possible solutions. In an almost incomprehensible timescale, he fights forces set on toppling the Families for their hubris and travels to the galactic core, picking up attributes Alice left for him along the way. In a perfectly timed, unexpected denouement, Ord flees through a wormhole to tell the elders what will happen when they open the baby universe, followed by his two oldest friends and most implacable enemies. The people of Reed's imaginative future are strange because they live for so long and play such bizarre games with reality, yet they are^B ultimately recognizable as fellows to mere humans, such as present-day readers. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"With his command of prose, characterization and ideas, Robert Reed is the new century's most compelling SF voice."
--Stephen Baxter

"An epic tale of visionary futures and scientific speculation." (Library Journal) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076530225X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765302250
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,280,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Space opera often relies on the use of vast stretches of distance or time to imbue a sense of vastness into a story.

In fact, a lot of the time "space opera" is just sci-fi jargon for "epic".

But that depends somewhat on how epic you like your epics.

Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series encompassed large chunks of the entire galaxy, with events stretching out for centuries.

Frank Herbert's "Dune" masterwork took place over tens of thousands of years.

But John C. Wright's "The Golden Age" unfolded "only" in our solar system, with one other star system getting involved, over the course of several weeks.

Then there is Robert Reed's "Sister Alice", which manages to cram in half the galaxy and *hundreds of thousands* of years in 358 pages, without lapsing into the cheesiness that afflicts this sub-genre.

In this compact epic, millennia pass with the flip of a page, whole worlds are shattered in a few short paragraphs, and years of near-light-speed space travel are conveyed as a meandering stroll down an icy beach.

Beginning his tale about 10 million years in the future, Reed takes wholeheartedly to Arthur C. Clarke's famous observation that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

The main characters are members of an elite group of one thousand Familes that alone are allowed to possess mankind's most advanced -- and dangerous -- technologies. They command awesome powers capable of transforming cold, dead worlds into ones rich with life. They can create artificial structures the size of many solar systems.
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Format: Hardcover
Reed has created a fantastic but logically self-consistent galaxy of immortals descended from the original 1000 families chosen for immortality. The immortals know their roles in life. They are there to serve the all too mortal citizens of the galaxy. Their families once helped to avert a galactic war and, naturally, they profited from their endeavours but that is fair, isn't it?
But what is a god to do when everything else has been done before, and so often? How can a god prove that he, or she, is truly godlike. How conceited can a god become? How far from hummanity, and all its foibles, is a god-like immortal? And why does this god choose to spend her time with the youngest, the baby?
This is a wonderful book. It takes you on a fantastic journey from the edge of the galaxy to the wonder at its core.
Reed's beautiful descriptive prose affords the reader a wonderous view of the galaxy of the immortals. He is clearly one of the top high concept SF writers of the modern age.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed Reed's early novels, which, while space opera avoided a lot of SF cliches. Based on that, and good comments from others, I expected a lot from _Sister Alice_.

It is set several million years in the future. The galaxy has been thoroughly settled. We scarcely see any "normal" people; most of the characters in the book belong to one or other of the "Families," near-immortal, clannish humans with what "talents," which really amount to super powers. These elites manage the affairs of the galaxy for the common good; in their spare time they indulge in creative terraforming projects.

As the story begins Ord, the youngest member of the Chamberlain family, is engaged in a lively wargame with other super-children. He is contacted by Alice, an elder member of Ord's clan; after investing him with some of her super powers, she is charged with unleashing a terrible galaxy-wracking cataclysm. Ord finds himself charged with redeeming his family and healing the galaxy's wounds.

_Sister Alice_ is not a bad story, but ultimately not very involving. I really couldn't relate to the characters. They casually gain and lose vaguely-defined super powers (uh, "talents"), zoom around the galaxy at near light speeds, but never come across as people I much care about.
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Format: Hardcover
After having read Marrow I was ready for the next big Robert Reed novel. However, I got extremely disappointed. I wouldn't say that Robert did any great character development in Marrow but he completely forgot about it in this novel!

Secondly, I clearly remember some Marrow reviewers who didn't like the arguably exaggerated dimensions (e.g. 15000 years later...). I can only recommend for those readers to stay away from Sister Alice as far as possible - we are now talking about 'millions of years'. I found the constant exaggeration of space and time dimensions useless and not adding anything to the story.

The antagonists and protagonists in Sister Alice have god-like powers and are capable of performing everything you would imagine from a god. However, they still haven't mastered to fly faster than light which kind of doesn't fit if you read about all their talents and deeds!

The story was incredible and full of potential, however, the delivery was rushed and also lacking the science part.

I am wondering what Peter F. Hamilton or Alastair Reynolds would have done with such a great plot...
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