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House of Suns Mass Market Paperback – May 25, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"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."
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, complicated plot line. The universe is fleshed out enough to let the reader fill in the blanks naturally, without over-descriptive language.Published 7 days ago by April C.
This is the book to start off with Alastair Reynolds. It has the breadth of his style and the kind of frame of mind you will need for most of his works. Read morePublished 10 days ago by theshowmecanuck
The story focuses on short personal timeframes but spans galactic timescales.
There is a depth to the story and characters.
Buy this book.
Alastair Reynolds has an amazing ability to create future worlds with multi-dimensional life-like characters and universe that is not flat and simplified as in some works. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Arc Stealth
It is a curse to be a discerning reader and at the same time love fantasy and science fiction. The genres are wastelands. At best, 1 out of 100 books is worth reading. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Alex
No joke, I have probably read this book ten times. Even knowing how everything turns out, it is such a fun, exciting, and clever ride that it's worth repeating. Read morePublished 2 months ago by mofolotopo
Run out and buy everything that Alastair Reynolds has written! If you haven't already. His books are so addictive- because of the complex characters and deep themes in his works. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Nathaniel Buck