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Sister Alice Hardcover – October 1, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The members of the Families were cloned from carefully selected individuals and given godlike powers to keep the peace. They have served well enough, and then Alice, one of the oldest Chamberlains, returns with news of a pocket universe in the galactic core that will destroy a vast swathe of the highly populated central galaxy. Ord, the Baby Chamberlain, is charged with finding explanations and possible solutions. In an almost incomprehensible timescale, he fights forces set on toppling the Families for their hubris and travels to the galactic core, picking up attributes Alice left for him along the way. In a perfectly timed, unexpected denouement, Ord flees through a wormhole to tell the elders what will happen when they open the baby universe, followed by his two oldest friends and most implacable enemies. The people of Reed's imaginative future are strange because they live for so long and play such bizarre games with reality, yet they are^B ultimately recognizable as fellows to mere humans, such as present-day readers. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"With his command of prose, characterization and ideas, Robert Reed is the new century's most compelling SF voice."
--Stephen Baxter


"An epic tale of visionary futures and scientific speculation." (Library Journal) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076530225X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765302250
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,440,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. S. Hillis on May 7, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Space opera often relies on the use of vast stretches of distance or time to imbue a sense of vastness into a story.

In fact, a lot of the time "space opera" is just sci-fi jargon for "epic".

But that depends somewhat on how epic you like your epics.

Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series encompassed large chunks of the entire galaxy, with events stretching out for centuries.

Frank Herbert's "Dune" masterwork took place over tens of thousands of years.

But John C. Wright's "The Golden Age" unfolded "only" in our solar system, with one other star system getting involved, over the course of several weeks.

Then there is Robert Reed's "Sister Alice", which manages to cram in half the galaxy and *hundreds of thousands* of years in 358 pages, without lapsing into the cheesiness that afflicts this sub-genre.

In this compact epic, millennia pass with the flip of a page, whole worlds are shattered in a few short paragraphs, and years of near-light-speed space travel are conveyed as a meandering stroll down an icy beach.

Beginning his tale about 10 million years in the future, Reed takes wholeheartedly to Arthur C. Clarke's famous observation that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

The main characters are members of an elite group of one thousand Familes that alone are allowed to possess mankind's most advanced -- and dangerous -- technologies. They command awesome powers capable of transforming cold, dead worlds into ones rich with life. They can create artificial structures the size of many solar systems.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love Robert Reed's work, and I am an enormous fan of the Great Ship series. Sister Alice is an early work of his, set in a far future, where elements of what became the Great Ship series, like human near immortality, are presented for the first time. After a near total war threatened to destroy all of humanity, humanity is divided into immortal families who act(ed) as saviours for all and the rest of mortal humanity who envy them. Eventually an experiment gone wrong to access another universe triggers a plot that overthrows the families with some exceptions. The story is about a boy whose much older sister is the titular Alice, and his experiences and actions in these events.

The story is a good read, the characters are flawed and complex, and the setting very exotic, but, parts of the story are very complex to understand, and although I have a passing understanding of the science involved, I thought the end was far too technical for any reader without a basic understanding of the physics involved and it is that ending that is what frustrates most with this novel.
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Format: Hardcover
Reed has created a fantastic but logically self-consistent galaxy of immortals descended from the original 1000 families chosen for immortality. The immortals know their roles in life. They are there to serve the all too mortal citizens of the galaxy. Their families once helped to avert a galactic war and, naturally, they profited from their endeavours but that is fair, isn't it?
But what is a god to do when everything else has been done before, and so often? How can a god prove that he, or she, is truly godlike. How conceited can a god become? How far from hummanity, and all its foibles, is a god-like immortal? And why does this god choose to spend her time with the youngest, the baby?
This is a wonderful book. It takes you on a fantastic journey from the edge of the galaxy to the wonder at its core.
Reed's beautiful descriptive prose affords the reader a wonderous view of the galaxy of the immortals. He is clearly one of the top high concept SF writers of the modern age.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this for husband, who sets me on the hunt for all things obscure! He had followed this story in serialized form in asimov's magazine (many years ago) , and he wondered if it was available in a book. Well, it was, and in amazing condition!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First, I never give a 5 star rating to anything but the greatest of works hence the 4 star rating for this book. I would give this book a 4.85 star rating if I could. I read sci-fi because I find that it stimulates my imagination. This book does that in spades. I really loved Mr. Reeds great ship series. For some reason this book grabbed me even more than that series did. Perhaps it's because the great ship was expanded from a short story and this book was a full novel from the start . For me this book puts Mr. Reed among the great masters of sci-fi. I really wish I could talk to the author about this work over a cup of coffee and a bagel. Bravo Mr Reed!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed Reed's early novels, which, while space opera avoided a lot of SF cliches. Based on that, and good comments from others, I expected a lot from _Sister Alice_.

It is set several million years in the future. The galaxy has been thoroughly settled. We scarcely see any "normal" people; most of the characters in the book belong to one or other of the "Families," near-immortal, clannish humans with what "talents," which really amount to super powers. These elites manage the affairs of the galaxy for the common good; in their spare time they indulge in creative terraforming projects.

As the story begins Ord, the youngest member of the Chamberlain family, is engaged in a lively wargame with other super-children. He is contacted by Alice, an elder member of Ord's clan; after investing him with some of her super powers, she is charged with unleashing a terrible galaxy-wracking cataclysm. Ord finds himself charged with redeeming his family and healing the galaxy's wounds.

_Sister Alice_ is not a bad story, but ultimately not very involving. I really couldn't relate to the characters. They casually gain and lose vaguely-defined super powers (uh, "talents"), zoom around the galaxy at near light speeds, but never come across as people I much care about.
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