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House of Suns (GOLLANCZ S.F.) [Kindle Edition]

Alastair Reynolds
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A spectacular, large-scale space opera - the ultimate galaxy-spanning adventure



Six million years ago, at the very dawn of the starfaring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones: the shatterlings. Sent out into the galaxy, these shatterlings have stood aloof as they document the rise and fall of countless human empires. They meet every two hundred thousand years, to exchange news and memories of their travels with their siblings.



Campion and Purslane are not only late for their thirty-second reunion, but they have brought along an amnesiac golden robot for a guest. But the wayward shatterlings get more than the scolding they expect: they face the discovery that someone has a very serious grudge against the Gentian line, and there is a very real possibility of traitors in their midst. The surviving shatterlings have to dodge exotic weapons while they regroup to try to solve the mystery of who is persecuting them, and why - before their ancient line is wiped out of existence, forever.


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Review

aEntertaininga]This is warm hearted science fiction with big ideas.a a"Interzone" aA thrilling, mind- boggling adventure.a a"The Times" (UK) aReynoldsas approach seems new, exciting, vibrant.a a"SFX" aA sweeping, audacious slice of galactic-scale intrigue and subterfuge.a a"Andromeda Spaceways" aReynolds has once again created a galaxy-spanning, mind-boggling stage on which to set a gripping, thoughtful, intelligent drama.a a"Concatenation"

Dave Golder, BBC FOCUS

"A crisper style that recalls hard SF from the '60s and '70s. This nod to the past seems fresh and new."

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More About the Author

Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St Andrews Universities and has a Ph.D. in astronomy. Since 1991 he has lived in the Netherlands, near Leiden. He gave up working as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency to become a full-time writer. Revelation space and Pushing Ice were shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award; Revelation space, Absolution Gape, Diamond Dogs and Century Rain were shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Award and Chasm City won the British Science Fiction Award.

Revelation Space Trilogy:

Revelation Space
Redemption Ark
Absolution Gap

Standalone novels:

Chasm City
Century Rain
Pushing Ice
The Prefect
House of Suns
Terminal World

Collections:

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days
Galactic North
Zima Blue and Other Stories

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Future Human Immortals Roam the Milky Way! 9 Oct. 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This excellent novel has a short story prequel, unfortunately absent from this volume: 'The Thousandth Night'. It is available in Gardner Dozois One Million A.D. anthology. As for House of Suns, in my humble opinion, this is Reynolds' best novel to date. Future immortal clones of a person explore the Milky Way and meet to reconvene every 200,000 years. Reynolds has this unique ability to render his science as captivating as the story itself. Read Thousandth Night first!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Grand Scale in Both Space and Time 8 Jun. 2011
By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Alastair Reynolds has written the best galaxy-spanning, big-idea space opera since Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon The Deep. It has a fascinating universe with characters operating from truly deep-time, cross-galaxy perspectives. Among them are:

Campion and Purslane, two non-identical clones from an original set of a thousand "shatterlings." They and their siblings were created to repeatedly make exploratory circuits of the galaxy and meet every 200,000 years or so to share memories and plan their next circuits. Risking official censure, Campion and Purslane consort during their circuits rather than exploring independently.

Hesperus, a robot of the Machine People who has lost much of his memory, but strives to discover and complete his mission. His actions demonstrate repeated loyalty to Campion and Purslane.

The Spirit of the Air who was once a man, became a machine intelligence, and finally evolved into a distributed machine intelligence. It controls the climate of the planet Neume and is regarded by the population as a capricious and inscrutable god. Asking the Spirit for favors is dangerous to everyone.

The Vigilance, a civilization of immortal archivists, collects information about the entire galaxy, continually sifting and prioritizing it. Some of this information is shared with other civilizations--with unforeseen consequences.

The novel is also rich with highly-imaginative Big Ideas. Stardams are containment devices of only partially understood technology that can contain entire solar systems. Aspic of Machines is a high-tech paste that can perform any number of miraculous tasks--just smear it on the problem surface.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Absolutely brilliant. 6 Aug. 2010
By Willy Eckerslike TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
On my continuing mission to find some modern Sci-Fi that I enjoy as much as the classics from the likes of Azimov, Harrison, Pohl, Aldiss and the rest, I have recently been stumbling around rather unsuccessfully. I obviously encountered the incomparable Iain M. Banks back in the late 80's but I have never found anyone else with his depth and scope of imagination.

Until, that is, I happened across Alistair Reynolds while browsing for new (to me) authors. What a find! I suppose this book could be summed up as an ultimately intergalactic space opera action mystery love story, but that doesn't do it justice. The shatterling concept, by itself, is brilliantly original, but the characterisation and galaxy & millennia spanning narrative are simply magnificent. I'm not entirely sure the early life of Abigail Gentian and her subsequent Palatial obsession adds an awful lot to the story, but inasmuch as they pertain to her personality and that of her shatterlings, they are relevant and add depth to the narrative. There are, of course, nuggets gently borrowed from other masterpieces of the genre, but these are in no way derivative; more of a respectful homage to earlier masters.

There is nothing more to add. More Alistair Reynolds - Now!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction at its best 22 Jun. 2009
Format:Paperback
Up to Reynolds' usual high standards. As far as I'm concerned Science Fiction is mainly about ideas and you may rest assured that there's no pseudo science techno babble from the master of hard Science Fiction. Lots of high tech concepts and deeper characters than in the Revelation Space novels. Don't want to give away the plot but well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book full of deep ideas 8 Jan. 2015
By Dr. Michael Heron TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
House of Suns may not be the greatest sci-fi book I've ever read, but it certainly wouldn't look stupid on a short-list of contenders. It's not so much the plot of the book that drives it forward, although there is a reasonably interesting conspiracy angled 'whodunnit' at the core of it. What makes it very special though are the deep concepts that the (mostly) hard sci-fi of the setting explores.

It's a beautifully written, deeply philosophical examination of scale, more than anything else - how a galaxy as big as ours might be sampled within the constraints implied by our current understanding of the inherent laws of the universe. There's no faster than light travel, although there is advanced technology that extrapolates from our own in credible ways. The protagonists of the book sample all the galaxy has to offer over lifespans of millions of years, As travel may take hundreds or thousands of years however they can only taste the occasional span of decades in between centuries of stasis or cryogenic suspension. The malleability of time and the staleness of experience are core themes in the book, and executed in both a compelling and hauntingly melancholic way. It's a book full of ideas.

Carl Sagan once said 'The universe is not required to be in harmony with human ambition'. House of Suns offers a hopeful take on a future which still offers much of wonder whilst still honouring the essential limitations implied by Sagan's insight.

I couldn't recommend it highly enough.
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