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House of Suns by [Reynolds, Alastair]
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House of Suns Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 182 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reynolds (The Prefect) returns to the universe of his 2005 novella Thousandth Night in this sprawling novel of intergalactic intrigue. It is 6.4 million years in the future and humanity has spread throughout the Milky Way. Some cultures have established transient empires across space; others, the Lines, have used relativistic travel to colonize deep time. Clone-siblings Campion and Purslane are delayed on their way to a Gentian Line reunion, a coincidence that saves them from a massacre. Allied with potentially hostile Machine People and an enigmatic post-human god called the Spirit, armed only with fragmentary records and hints that Campion's research provoked the mysterious House of Suns, the Gentian survivors struggle to find and stop their enemies before the genocide can be completed. Intriguing ideas and competent characterization make this a fine example of grand-scale relativistic space opera. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Intriguing ideas and competent characterization make this a fine example of grand-scale relativistic space opera." ---Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • File Size: 1436 KB
  • Print Length: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (May 20, 2009)
  • Publication Date: June 2, 2009
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002AKPECW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,125 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Liviu C. Suciu on May 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After 2 brilliant novels at the beginning of his career - Revelation Space and Chasm City, Mr. Reynolds' novels became either incomplete or just showing flashes of brilliance combined with lots of forget it run of the mill action. The short stories and novellas showed an extraordinary brilliance though and I've wondered if he would ever write a novel commensurate with them

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.
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Format: Hardcover
There aren't too many authors that do epic science fiction well and Alastair Reynolds is certainly one of them. You can't get much more epic than this. Six million years in the future and spanning the whole galaxy. Quite a departure from the "Revelation Space" universe.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Publishing's a funny old business. Reynolds' magnum opus, "House of Suns" has only just come out in hardback in both the UK and the US, but I found a paperback copy at Singapore Airport last Saturday. I hesitated for a moment - this is a big book: did I really want to lug it around the world? - but only for a moment.

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!
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Format: Paperback
House of Suns is an enjoyable read. But I can't help but feel various earlier works exceed it (Revelation Space, Chasm City, The Prefect, etc...). I suppose it is always hardest to compete against yourself.

(spoilers)

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.
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