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House of Suns (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Hardcover – 17 Apr 2008

102 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; First Edition edition (17 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575077174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575077171
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.9 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,645 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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Norrin Radd on 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 By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Jun. 2011
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 By Willy Eckerslike TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Aug. 2010
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 By Amazon Customer on 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 By Dr. Michael Heron TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Jan. 2015
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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