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Saturn's Children Hardcover – July 1, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • 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
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,499,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Welcome to a future in which all the dreams of the 1950's have been realized: exploring the solar system, extraterrestrial colonies all the way out to the Oort Cloud, fast-transit spaceships, etc. etc. But they've been realized by our successors, the robots, not by living humans, who are extinct. And now our heirs squabble, in fashions just as ugly as we their Creators did.

If the title of this review sounds confusing, it's because I have a lot of trouble putting this book into any fixed category. The heroine, Freya, is a sexbot (hence the late period, where Heinlein's characters actually were interested in sex). However, her situation is pure 1950's Heinlein juvenile, wherein Our Heroine is in Great Peril and must Find Out What's Really Going On.

On the surface, this book is a really fun romp, as Freya's viewpoint effectively takes her on a Grand Tour of the solar system, from Venus to Mercury to Mars and outward to the Oort Cloud, seeing, meeting, fighting and sexing her way through the many variants that will be possible once the physical housing for intelligence becomes as malleable as technology and function allow. For that part alone, this story is worth the trip.

But this book is by no means as simple as the above summary suggests. Just as in his last book, "Halting State", it's the hidden infrastructure that's important, and it ends up involving Asimov's unstated Fourth Law of Robotics (Any sufficiently complex intelligence will end up doing what it damn well pleases, first three laws notwithstanding.), the ethics of interpersonal relations, and the ultimate question of "Just what do you mean by a person?"

I recommend this book highly.
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Format: Hardcover
Since several other reviewers have already described the overall plot and the main themes of this book - what does it mean to be a person, what does it mean to be free vs. slave, etc. - I'm just going to concentrate on my observations of the individual elements of the book that intrigued me, rather than repeating those. So please read this review in conjunction with several others, so you get the whole picture.

Charles Stross has a habit of paying specific homage to previous generations of science fiction authors in his books - for example, to Cordwainer Smith in "Glasshouse" - and in this one, he specifically mentions Heinlein and Asimov. However, there are many more references in here than just ones to Heinlein's and Asimov's books, though those are the most obvious ones. Some of them will be references only readers who have read some of the body of literature from 30 to 50 years ago will get (or even older - how many people will read the line about a character with urea and acetate and remember the old idiomatic phrase about being full of piss and vinegar?); others may be references that only younger readers will get. (For example, right at the beginning, where some of the characters are described as bishojo and chibi forms - mostly, it's going to be the younger generation that automatically knows what those are, from manga and anime; old fogeys may have to go look it up on the intertubes, which interrupts the reading experience.) And sometimes the references are more trouble than they're worth - giving two of the characters seldom-used nicknames so that one fleeting Shakespeare reference can be thrown in. Nonetheless, it's fun to try and recognize all the sources that Stross is giving credit to.

Stross's characters are a mixed bag, as far as level of characterization goes.
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Format: Hardcover
I thought this was going to be a wonderful book when I started it. Stross has quite an imagination for worlds unlike ours. He has created a world where humans are extinct and robots have colonized the galaxy because they don't have human biological restrictions. He has some really interesting ideas such interplanetary travel that starts with a giant ferris wheel that takes your pod into orbit where you're attached to something kind of like a ski lift that takes you to the next planet. He also has an interesting idea for a movable city that travels on railroad tracks across the face of Mercury to avoid the extreme hot and cold weather of each day as the planet turns.

I should have stopped reading after Mercury.

The main idea behind the story is that robots can experience the memories of their dead siblings by inserting their dead siblings' "soul chips" into themselves. Thus, your siblings' education, training, and memories can become your own. Unfortunately, this makes for confusing reading. The main character, Freya, switches between at least 6 identities. And other robots around her are switching identities, too -- even taking on some of Freya's alternate identities. I had no idea who was who and who was doing what to whom half the time. And then there was also the problem of not knowing if the character was dreaming, remembering, or living an experience of her own or of someone else.

You get to the end of the book and it's just more of a relief than an answer to any questions. I really wanted to like this book based on the strong beginning, but it just got more convoluted and confusing the further along it went. If I weren't stuck in a waiting room with this book, I don't think I could have finished it.
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