- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Ace Hardcover; First Edition edition (July 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0441015948
- ISBN-13: 978-0441015948
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,545,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Saturn's Children Hardcover – July 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Sex oozes from every page of this erotic futuristic thriller. In a far-future class-driven android society, most of the populace are slave-chipped and owned by wealthy aristos. When low-caste but unenslaved android Freya offends an aristo and needs to get off-world, she takes a courier position with the mysterious Jeeves Corporation, but the job turns out to have dangers of its own. Designed as a pleasure-module, Freya isn't quite as obsolete as she could be, as androids have sex with each other incessantly. Hugo-winner Stross (Halting State) has a deep message of how android slavery recapitulates humanity's past mistakes, but he struggles to make it heard over the moans and gunshots. Readers nostalgic for the SF of the '60s will find much that's familiar (including Freya's jumpsuit-clad form on the cover), but that doesn't quite compensate for the flaws. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Charles Stross is a unique voice among today’s wave of “New British SF” writers, but he also knows his history. Saturn’s Children is dedicated to old lions Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, and the ghosts of both (especially Heinlein) can be felt in the latest effort. Reviews of the novel vary wildly, which may suggest as much about the tastes of particular SF readers as it does about the specific case. The combination of sex and violence clashes a bit with some deep philosophizing on identity and purpose, though Stross’s sense of humor and Freya’s rollicking adventure transcend what SF Reviews deems “some bizarre cross-genre hybrid.” Many SF readers will appreciate the novel, deemed as one of Stross’s more accessible, and revel in the author’s numerous nods toward his influences; others might want to give it a pass.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
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Top Customer Reviews
Humanity is gone... how isn't explained because the robots themselves didn't keep extensive records of their passing. But we're given a story about the travels and perils of Freya Nakamichi-47, a pleasure robot from the future. It's a fun story, over 300 pages, and is fairly well written.
I'm not as great a Sci-Fi reader as in the past. However, I really liked some of the concepts such as City on Mercury that is actually a city on rains that constantly travels to stay in the night side of the planet. There are cloud cities on Venus. Earth for some reason is covered in "pink goo".
This novel struck me as a happier version of an old novel called "Houston, Houston, do you read?". That novel is about the passing of people and clones of one particular women are left running the earth. This novel is about robots doing the same thing. In some ways it reminds the reader of the old cartoon "Futurerama" with sleazy and scheming robots. Think of a culture of "Bender-the-alcoholic-robot" on a solar system scale.
Weirdly, I think this would have been much better if it had been more divorced from its source material -- the confines of trying to match the plot to _Friday_'s makes for a stilted, awkward, and occasionally nonsensical turn of events -- but I'm also left with the feeling that Stross was trying to satirize both the much-analyzed Heinlein systemic sexism and the well-documented problems the sf genre has with sexism of its own, and missed the mark so hard that instead he wound up reinforcing them. A good plot or good prose could have salvaged things for me somewhat -- as a sf fan, I'm very used to ignoring the heaping dose of unexamined sexism in a good 75% of what I read; see also "Heinlein fan" -- but I found the prose incredibly clunky and the plot far too convoluted and disjointed. I have to call this one a swing and a miss.
Their robots multiply, and ape humankind, establishing a plutocracy based on companies-as-people.
Freya Nakamichi, a descendant of an old line of courtesan robots survives an attack while on Mercury.
She's then recruited by a line of butlers, in missions involved with the rebirth of the recently extinct species.
That rebirthing is very illegal.
She also has to dodge the murderous aristocrat she's slighted.
If you liked Heinlein's "Friday", there's much to love here too:
tradecraft, shifting loyalties, dubious politics...
The different viewpoint on chemicals is amusing: PEG & creosote are flavours for drinks, oxygen is a hazard in the local atmosphere.
Stross is observant of the physics involved in travelling around the System, and life on the various planets, which sets this apart from the melodramatic space operas.
The cloning of robotic minds is well done, if occasionally requiring your attention, to keep track of who's relating the story.
It's quite enjoyable, with an end that is a relief for Freya.
I believe only Charlie Stross could imagine this world and make it work. It works as a solar system spanning thriller, and yet there are undercurrents hard to describe. There is cosmic melancholy, and a faint echo of silent cosmic laughter. You will read this Charlie Stross, and I'm betting you will want more.
Charles Stross again and again shows that the quality of his books are excellent workmanship by world building.
While world building is never the one or only way to achieve great story telling, Stross in this book constructed a cool world with details in the background the reveal themselves carefully over time.
And then, at 90% through, you get the hammer going down. You breath in in shock and see the author as a ghostly figure besides you, smugly telling you "Why so shocked? Think about it. It is a logical consequence of what you already knew."
I do prefer his Laundry Files series and the Halting State series, but this was still good work and now on to the sequel...