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House of Suns (GOLLANCZ S.F.) [Hardcover]

Alastair Reynolds
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 April 2008 GOLLANCZ S.F.

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, for ever.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; 4th Impression edition (17 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575077174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575077171
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 452,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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


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

Product Description


¿Reynolds injects a good old fashioned sense of wonder into his science fiction by combining a story of epic scale with a series of awe-inspiring revelations, each more breathtaking than the last. The finale is thrilling, moving and humane. This is Reynolds¿ best novel to date." (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

"Reynolds retains a highly readable style which allows him to dip into solid technology without losing the pace and he fleshes out a convincing background to his world." (Anthony Brown STARBURST)

A crisper style that recalls hard SF from the '60s and '70s. This nod to the past seems fresh and new. (Dave Golder BBC FOCUS)

A splendid example of SF as the literature of ideas, and depsite its longueurs is another triumph for Reynolds. (Jes Bickham DEATHRAY)

The book's final revelations are near perfectly judged. Ultimately it's this that gives his novel real heart and soul - an infinitely rarer commodity than any amount of self-consciously insouciant cool. (Jonathan Wright SFX)

His writing is solid, his characterisation intriguing; a fine entry for Reynolds. (SCi FI NOW)

"Reynolds has written a hugely entertaining extrapolation of contemporary mores: a far-flung comedy of manners, with fascinating precedents. This is warm hearted science fiction with big ideas that are easy to follow. House of Suns might well be the author's most human novel to date." (INTERZONE)

"Reynolds understands and uses hard science, giving an aura of plausibility to his wildest flights of fancy. As well as visionary brilliance, Reynolds also supplies a knock-your-socks-off ending. A thrilling, mind-boggling adventure." (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES)

"He remains as devoted as ever to innovative, hard sf, gigantic, family-sized space opera. What ensues is a chase story across vast tracts of both time and space, veering closer to Iain M Banks's territory than Reynolds's earlier books ventured. Like its technology, when it starts moving, it moves at one hell of a clip." (Andrew McKie THE TELEGRAPH)

"As well as being an intelligent writer, he shows that he has an awful lot of heart." (Roz Kaveney TIME OUT)

I abandoned science fiction years ago, except for the Discworld books, but a friend insisted I read House Of Suns by Alastair Reynolds. I tried it, became hooked, and have now read everything he's written. Alastair Reynolds is an astrophysicist, so he knows his stuff, but what really distinguishes him is a galaxy-sized imagination allied to a real story-telling ability. (Bernard Cornwell)

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction at its best 22 Jun 2009
By Dave
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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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reynolds for the Booker, why not? 16 Feb 2009
I have just finished House of Suns and I think that it may be one of the finest pieces of literature I have ever read.

It is quite simply a beautiful novel. It's sci-fi context is irrelevant to its beauty and I almost wish that he had written the novel about contemporary shatterlings travelling the world and gaining experiences. Maybe if the setting had been New York and not Neume then this book would be sitting in the sci-fi best sellers and the generic fiction top ten lists.

This book is a massive shift from the revelation space books. Don't get me wrong, I have read them all, but House of Suns is the sum of all of Mr Reynolds previous writing. It is funny, witty and breathtaking but and this is the killer, it is extraordinarly well written.

As I read it the most obvious comparable author was Haruki Murakami. The way Mr Reynolds takes modern themes such as loss and alienation and mixes them with humour and wonder is sublime.

This is not just good sci-fi this is wonderful story telling.

How do you nominate a book for the Man Booker?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Absolutely brilliant. 6 Aug 2010
By Willy Eckerslike TOP 1000 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This was my first time reading a book by Alastair Reynolds. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more by him. Though I felt let down by the ending, it felt rushed and slightly lacking in comparison to the remainder of the book.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow burning, millenia spanning novel 22 July 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Purslane and Campion are two Gentian shatterlings from the House of Flowers, two of a thousand clones of Abigail Gentian who left the solar system around the year 3000 to travel and explore the galaxy. All shatterlings meet up for their thousand nights reunion during which they share memories of what they have experienced.

Six million years have passed since the first ships left the solar system and due to the technology available the shatterlings are effectively immortal. They can pass the hundreds of years travelling between star systems in stasis and experience anything the galaxy has to offer.

On their belated way to the next reunion, Campion and Purslane receive a message warning them not to enter the chosen system and to flee to a designated safe system. The Gentian line were ambushed, almost their entire number wiped out and only a few dozen managing to escape and make their way to Neume where they await any stragglers.

Why does someone want the Gentian Shatterlings dead? Is there a traitor in their midst that helped this atrocity? And what exactly is the House of Suns?

This is the story we follow in House of Suns. Travelling with Campion and Purslane while they visit some systems on their way to the reunion, the aftermath of the attack and the events that follow. The first thing that you need to get used to is the timeframe of the novel. As all travel is done at sub-light speeds, with ftl not possible, the events of travelling between systems is done in tens and hundreds of years of subjective time. Once you get the hang of this it's easy enough to focus on the story without thinking of anything outside of it, unless it's mentioned within the narrative.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Fantastic galaxy spanning concepts and well developed characters. Great description of the limitations of super fast travel too. Brilliant book.
Published 2 months ago by Sean Sutherland
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic space opera
Fresh interesting SF premise explored quite well - some of the links between past and the 'present ' of the narrative seemed a bit surplus to requirement, but even those bits... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Omnivore
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best
I am a big fan of Alistair Reynolds and so, I suppose biased. I enjoy his style and his story lines and the story telling is always of a very high standard. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Roger Field
5.0 out of 5 stars Another mind bending story
Having read the revelation space trilogy first I could not wait to read other AR story's. This one is as good as it gets with the same AR attention to detail. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Pete Barlow
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Terrific read, Reynold's finest book. One of the best SiFi books I've ever read, up there with 2001 and Hitchhikers Guide.
Published 5 months ago by an323
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastically written love story, with robots.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I like Alastair's work anyway, and of the half-dozen or so of is that I've read, this is easily my favourite. Read more
Published 13 months ago by mbrit
4.0 out of 5 stars very good
A pan galactic love story, who old have thought that? Well worth a read whilst waiting for Poseidon's second chapter.
Published 15 months ago by J. Wells
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent read from Alastair Reynolds
I found this a little more difficult at the start than some of the other works I've read by this author. Well worth persevering though, great concepts and well rounded characters.
Published 18 months ago by Timraven
5.0 out of 5 stars House of Suns
One of the best Sci-Fi books I've read in a good while. Not too concerned with the nuts and bolts of the science but a good storyline which keeps up the pace throughout
Published 21 months ago by Paul T
5.0 out of 5 stars Intrigue in the Distant Future
This was the first Reynolds novel I read outside his "Revelation Space" series, and it was just as enjoyable as they were. Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2012 by just another customer
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