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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Money, fast and slow
This book is a follow up (not a sequel) set in the same universe as Stross's earlier Saturn's Children (and for completeness, a short story, "Bit Rot" in the anthology Engineering Infinity fits in between and is mentioned in passing here).

It is several thousand years in the future. Humanity has become extinct - and been recreated - several times. Taking our...
Published 13 months ago by D. Harris

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why can't Stross finish a book?
Once again Stross creates an interesting premise, but is unable to satisfactorily conclude.

This is the case with iron sunrise, the whole laundry series. We get to about 95% of the way through and then it is finished in a 1, 2, 3, often a deus ex machina.

I like Stross' work, but like Iain Banks, I think his work rate is undermining the quality...
Published 11 months ago by Alexander J. Thirkill


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Money, fast and slow, 4 July 2013
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Hardcover)
This book is a follow up (not a sequel) set in the same universe as Stross's earlier Saturn's Children (and for completeness, a short story, "Bit Rot" in the anthology Engineering Infinity fits in between and is mentioned in passing here).

It is several thousand years in the future. Humanity has become extinct - and been recreated - several times. Taking our place is a flourishing society of post-humans, originally robots created to do our bidding (as described in "Saturn's Children"). They are tougher than us, better able to survive the rigours of interplanetary travel and able to be transferred, as software, from one body to another. Yet their design was originally based on ours, and they share all our failings and feelings (subject, of course, to the effects of a tweak here or there to increase empathy or decrease libido - the better to focus on the task in hand).

Krina Alizond and her kind inhabit a society that is enthusiastically colonizing the galaxy, establishing toeholds in remote systems where "beacons" are constructed to which colonists can be "beamed" and downloaded into freshly grown bodies. it's a lucrative trade, financed by massive debt, and Stross goes to some lengths to explain the economic basis of the whole thing. The debt is key here, as the brave new post-human world is nakedly capitalist: freshly created "persons" are owned by their progenitors until they have paid off the costs of their instantiation; those distant colonies are also born deeply in debt, which they generally pay off, by founding daughter colonies which are in debt to them.

As I said, the post-humans of Krina's universe inherit our failings, and it's hardly surprising to find fraud, scams and unbridled greed flourishing as part of its financial system. Krina is a historian of such things, a "nun-accountant" on an academic pilgrimage who plunges into adventure by accident (well, sort-of). Why is somebody trying to kill her? What's happened to her sister? And what does all this have to do with the failed attempt to establish the "Atlantis" colony, two thousand years before?

This book is a rollicking good read, with a crisp plot and plenty of trademark weirdness - from pirate bats to communist squid via a spacefaring church. You'd think a SF story based on debt and set in a cosmos rigidly bound to slower-than-light travel could drag, but Stross turns both of these features to his advantage, creating something both outlandish and convincing. It's recognisably the same universe as "Saturn's Children" but (like Krina's people) it has evolved too. And the slightly nerdy heroine, who gets way too deep in something she didn't expect, is also easier to identify with than an all-guns-blazing SF protagonist.

All in all, a brilliant book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very good. not quite great., 17 July 2013
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This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Kindle Edition)
An excellent read. Very Charles Stross. Very enjoyable.
The end feels a bit abrupt - it could do with an epilogue In my opinion, but that's Charlie for you.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why can't Stross finish a book?, 6 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Hardcover)
Once again Stross creates an interesting premise, but is unable to satisfactorily conclude.

This is the case with iron sunrise, the whole laundry series. We get to about 95% of the way through and then it is finished in a 1, 2, 3, often a deus ex machina.

I like Stross' work, but like Iain Banks, I think his work rate is undermining the quality control. I'd like to see him get back to the heights of Glasshouse and Accelerando.

Adequate, but I should have waited until it came out in paper-back.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cutting edge accountancy..., 26 July 2014
By 
A. J. Poulter "AP" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Paperback)
Set in a future when humanity is extinct, intelligent robots carry on the task of spreading civilisation, having colonised the solar system and sent ships to nearby stars. These are not soulless Asimovian robots as their minds are copies of archetypal personalities, created by conditioning using human experiences (some extremely unpleasant). This conditioning also inculcates basic emotions and needs: for example, robots can enjoy a drink or two (though not of alcohol) and can experience the pleasures of sex when they 'link up'.

For control purposes, humans made serving them the deepest desire of a robot. Now humans are gone, 'aristo' robots use this servitude capacity to enslave other robots. Their greatest fear is of 'pink goo' - animal cells of any kind that could, in theory, be used to rebuild one of the lost human 'Creators'. A human, could, simply by their presence, control any and all robots using their inbuilt servitude routines.

The second in a series, this novel seemingly eschews the more fundamental issues looked at in the first and takes place in the seemingly rather dull area of accountancy. Krina studies historical accounting practices, in particular the disappearance of the Atlantis space Colony, but is re-assigned to find her sister, who is also a accountant, who has gone missing. There is no FTL drive, but robots can shut down and wait out the journey to nearby stars. The problem is how to finance such expansion.

Krina gets cheap passage on a “ Human Church” worshippers ship going to the right planet. Unbeknownst to her, she is followed onto the Church ship by a replica of herself who murders the ticketing robot she dealt with and stows away on her ship. And things escalate from there as the scenario opens out in to a gloriously human tale of greed and murder on an epic scale: everything turns out to be inter-related and no-one is entirely innocent. This tale sounds perhaps somewhat grim but this is balanced by its robot cast, some so outlandishly evil in their actions, that they become caricature villains...

This novel has everything, new ideas a plenty, a very different approach to space colonisation and humour. It is a shame it missed out on awards. It even makes accountancy seem exciting...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ingenious, amusing, but ultimately unsatisfying space opera, 6 July 2014
By 
P. Kendell (Wokingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Kindle Edition)
They call economics the "dismal science". So does it follow that a science fiction novel based on economics will also be dismal?

Well, no, not necessarily, but it's a close-run thing. Charles Stross has obviously had a good think about the economics of interstellar colonisation in a relativistic universe and boy, does he want us to know it. So he falls into the the old SF trope of introducing a term, leaving it a couple of pages, and then explaining it. At length. And all that had me doing was saying, 'OK, Charlie. Got it already. Let's move on now, shall we?' Surely Stross has been writing long enough by now to remember the mantra of "show, don't tell"? Trust your readers!

Fortunately he does, mostly. But look - I'm neither an economist nor a nun-historian, so if I can get it without having it spelled out in repeated detail so can anyone.

That over, what's left is fun in a later version of the post-human future history we first encountered in (the superior) Saturn's Children. It all rollicks along in a cheerfully gruesome manner until we reach the final showdown when everything unexpectedly and abruptly sto
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, 4 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Kindle Edition)
I really like Charles' quirky sense of humour. The book was gripping right to the end, and the texture of his reality was rich and expansive. My (very small) gripe is that I wish there was an 'afterword' or something - the end of the book was very sudden (can be a complete surprise when reading on a Kindle to find you got to the last page!) I wanted to know just a little more about her life after mother ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mind blown, 14 July 2013
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This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Kindle Edition)
@cstross Saturns Children was always a tough act to follow but any writer that can turn an accountant into a hero clearly needn't fear that issue. Human evolution, body plans for the choosing, slow money, so want to believe future, damsel in distress (but not so defenseless at all), the story builds like crazy and is over too soon. This is so rich with tech and ideas I will be thinking about it for weeks.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the year so far, 8 July 2013
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This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Kindle Edition)
I've definitely always been a big fan of Stross' work, but this has to be his best SF book to date. Solid world building, excellent use of current tech to extrapolate likely technological evolution, great characterisation, and best of all - it's not rabidly anthro-centric like the bulk of other SF. Sure, the subjects of his book are mostly humanoid, but that's where the resemblance ends.

His use of economics borders on the genius, and the people/objects which make up the universe he's built are surprisingly believable - even the ***SPOILERS*** communist squid robots. ***SPOILERS***

I expected a good book from Stross, but not a book this good. I can't find a flaw, which almost irks me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rip-roaring Econimic Advendure!, 21 July 2014
By 
JA Fairhurst "johnfair" (Edgeley, Stockport) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Kindle Edition)
A great story, as you'd expect from Stross.

This is a return to Far Future science fiction Stross rather than the equally good 'hidden history' current times Laundry books. In the grand tradition of Hard Science, there is no true FTL travel in this universe and a whole economic system has been designed to cope with the multi-century journey times required sub FTL travel times and if there is a... difficulty with the book it's the amount of explanation that Stross has his character make over the economy but it is fairly vital to the plot that you have a reasonable understanding of the economics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, new ideas as usual, 14 July 2014
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This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Paperback)
I Loved it. As one of my friends says, how does he think of such things.
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Neptune's Brood
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross (Hardcover - 2 July 2013)
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