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Neptune's Brood Hardcover – July 2, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 191 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Stross’ novel Saturn’s Children (2008) took place in a twenty-third century devoid of humans but replete with androids, including a professional sexual companion with no more biological customers left to service. This equally inventive follow-up occupies the same universe, albeit thousands of years later, featuring a new metahuman protagonist named Krina Alizond-114, whose consciousness can be beamed across light-years of space into newly fabricated bodies. When her sister, Ana, unaccountably goes missing, Krina sets out for Ana’s last known home base—the water world of Shin-Tethys—but she doesn’t get far before her ship is seized by pirates. While their captain, Count Rudi, chivalrously offers to ferry Krina to Shin-Tethys in order to meet Ana, his real motive is shadier: capturing a fabled and powerful monetary instrument called the Atlantis Carnet, of which Ana and Krina are part-owners. Readers new to Stross’ densely packed prose and profusion of ideas may want to switch to lighter fare. His many fans, however, will find the author’s usual wealth of futuristic scenarios and technological extrapolation enthralling. --Carl Hays

Review

Praise for Charles Stross

“Where Charles Stross goes today, the rest of science fiction will follow tomorrow.”—Gardner Dozois
 
“Stross sizzles with ideas.”—The Denver Post
 
“Charles Stross may be the science fiction field’s most exciting writer.”—SFRevu
 
“A new kind of future requires a new breed of guide—someone like Stross.”—Popular Science
 
“The act of creation seems to come easily to Charles Stross…[He] is peerless at dreaming up devices that could conceivably exist in six, sixty, or six hundred years’ time.”—The New York Times
 
“Stross’s brand of gonzo techno-speculation makes hallucinogens obsolete.”—Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Pirate Cinema
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; 1St Edition edition (July 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425256774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425256770
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a follow up (not a sequel) set in the same universe as Stross's earlier Saturn's Children (and for completeness, a short story, "Bit Rot" in the anthology Engineering Infinity fits in between and is mentioned in passing here).

It is several thousand years in the future. Humanity has become extinct - and been recreated - several times. Taking our place is a flourishing society of post-humans, originally robots created to do our bidding (as described in "Saturn's Children"). They are tougher than us, better able to survive the rigours of interplanetary travel and able to be transferred, as software, from one body to another. Yet their design was originally based on ours, and they share all our failings and feelings (subject, of course, to the effects of a tweak here or there to increase empathy or decrease libido - the better to focus on the task in hand).

Krina Alizond and her kind inhabit a society that is enthusiastically colonizing the galaxy, establishing toeholds in remote systems where "beacons" and constructed to which colonists can be "beamed" and downloaded into freshly grown bodies. it's a lucrative trade, financed by massive debt, and Stross goes to some lengths to explain the economic basis of the whole thing. Debt is key here, as the brave new post human world is nakedly capitalist: newly created "persons" are owned by their progenitors until they have paid off the costs of their instantiation; newly founded colonies are also deeply in debt, which they pay off, generally, by founding daughter colonies which are in debt to them.
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I don't usually think of Stross as funny, but this is barkingly funny. I mean, "laugh-out-loud", which is not something one usually associates with science fiction.

This is a slightly insane romp through several different cultures and biospheres; if you are looking for unusual world-building it definitely does not disappoint. Our hero(ine) goes from something that sounds like a hyper-computerized Japan to a floating catacomb to a waterworld, and that's only halfway through the book.

Also, one of the main conceits is that, well, no one has figured out an Alcubierre Drive. There is no ftl, which is what seems to make most current science fiction dated. (If you actually pay attention to real science, we probably can't have ftl, without ripping apart stars for power.) This has a very neat solution to that, which I'll leave to the reader to discover.

Well done.
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Format: Kindle Edition
With Neptune's Brood, Charles Stross has managed the improbable task of making interstellar finance exciting. He also breathes further life into a universe he first introduced us to in "Saturn's Children", exploring the worlds our children, the robots, have created as they colonized the stars--albeit very slowly, usually at about 1% of the speed of light. It is this odd mixture of global (galactic) finance, Ponzi schemes, interstellar settlement, duplicity by all too human robots, and the very real limits the speed of light imposes on all of these things in the year 7000 AD that is the subject matter of this fascinating book.

The tale begins with the story of Krina Alizond, a robot that could well be afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome and forensic accountant extraordinaire, who plans a small adventure to find her sister, rescue a lost financial transaction, and become fabulously wealthy. Of course, very little goes smoothly for Krina, and she ends up being pursued by several factions who would also dearly love to lay their hands on the stupendous fortune of "slow" money she may (or may not) have found. In the process of trying to escape those who would harm her, she ends up working on a flying interstellar church crewed by skeletons, tangling with nearly immortal hereditary rulers of planets, and venturing far beneath the surface of a planetary ocean that naturally spawns super critical nuclear reactions.

But at its heart, this novel is very much a satire. Robots may be artificially created, but they are very human in their desires and frailties.
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Format: Kindle Edition
First, a little background.

I enjoyed several of the Laundry books, and to this day adore Glasshouse as one of the best novels I've read in many years.

Saturn's Children however, was a haphazard mess. Something broke down roughly at the halfway mark that caused me to start skimming forward and lose faith in Stross' ability to deliver the rest of the story in a coherent and satisfying fashion. Perhaps it was one too many repetitions of "space travel is s***". Or one too many needless recaps at the start of a new chapter (as if the reader only gets through one chapter a week, like a serialised TV show watcher). Or one too many conveniently bad decisions on the part of the protagonist, who is doomed to forever be a cosmic plaything with no agency of her own. Or most likely, one too many instances of "factual" padding, where the true narrative grinds to a resounding halt, giving way to several scenic tours through whatever pop culture buzz-topic of science, computer studies or pseudo philosophy Stross spent long hours discussing at his local pub.

(I've actually started using "Stross" as a verb, i.e. "to Stross" is to pad or derail a conversation with the sort of "too clever by half" observations/condescension that Stross is filling his books with in steadily increasing measures, at the expense of actual plot and characterisation. A sort of light-hearted Pratchett meets Adams meets Stephen Hawking, catering to the hardest of hardcore denizens of the internet and all their transhuman fantasies (and fetishes)).

I sincerely believe something went wrong during the writing of Saturn's Children. Something was rushed, momentum was lost. A deadline grew too close. Stross decided the overall concept was poor and 'phoned in the second half of the book. Something.
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