- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Gollancz (June 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0575082372
- ISBN-13: 978-0575082373
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.3 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 206 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #838,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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House of Suns Paperback – June 1, 2009
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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. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
aEntertaininga]This is warm hearted science fiction with big ideas.a
aA thrilling, mind- boggling adventure.a
a"The Times" (UK)
aReynoldsas approach seems new, exciting, vibrant.a
aA sweeping, audacious slice of galactic-scale intrigue and subterfuge.a
aReynolds has once again created a galaxy-spanning, mind-boggling stage on which to set a gripping, thoughtful, intelligent drama.a
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Top customer reviews
To set the tone, the book is intelligent, well paced, has good characters, is believable in a scifi perspective and nicely (as far as I am concerned) almost approaches a Phillip K Dick twistedness at times, but is definitely more cogent than say a 'Valis'. It combines good current knowledge of science and some good extrapolations and ideas of what the future might bring. I like that ships do not travel faster than light and how it examines the concept of "deep time" in galactic travels. The characters are interesting, sympathetic, and human. And the are well developed and three dimensional.
The book only dipped once into a place that I had trouble with. Without giving too much away, there was a need to question a bad guy, and the technique they were using seemed to be introduced as a device that was there because it might sound cool or interesting. Aside from not being useful even as portrayed, it just looks like something Reynolds came up with for added coolness, and tried too hard. I don't know, maybe the publisher's editors said he had to add some cool factor (which never works which is why it is a possibility). At that one point, and only that point was the story a little rough getting through. However the strength of the rest of the book easily allows me to rate it 5 stars.
Alastair Reynolds is a man of great ideas. A former astrophysicist, his best books are sweeping space operas with true alien concepts and technologies, presented in a believable manner. In this one, we follow a branch of humanity that has survived unchanged while travelling through the Milky Way for the last 6 million years. Truly epic stuff.
As in his other books, the dialogue is very formal and stiff, and the characters have shallow and similar personalities (although in this book I guess that can be hand-waved away by the fact that most of the characters are clones of the same person). The dialogue also contains a fair bit of repetition. As an example, if a character is privy to some piece of information that we as the reader also already know, but a second character does not, it is is explained to the other character on paper in great detail.
The pacing is fairly good, better than most of Reynolds’s other books, but there are still some odd cliffhangers and mysteries that are resolved far too quickly (and often, the main characters’ first theory is proven to be correct) to leave much impression.
The transition from a developing mystery in relatively (on a galactic scale) close quarters to the famous near-lightspeed chase that lasts thousands of years is a bit jarring, but it’s all grounded in a warming relationship between the two main characters.
Parallel to the main story, a fictional side story unfolds through flashbacks. Not unlike Watchmen, it functions as a metaphor or foil to the main story, although it’s hard to really grasp its deeper significance and the reason for its inclusion. The same goes for some of the earlier parts of the plot, which feel a bit like red herrings.
Just a final thought: There are no aliens in this book, but a conflict between organics and sentient machines that reminded me of a central plotline in Mass Effect (which, in turn, reminds me of the Inhibitors in Reynolds’s Revelation Space).