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Neptune's Brood (Freyaverse)
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on 6 September 2015
Charles Stross is a genius. In "Saturn's Children" and "Neptune's Brood" he has created a universe of everyday surreality populated by metahumans. Who else could possibly dream up a mindbendingly, superfast space opera centred round interstellar banking, bit coinage and accounting? Who else would dream of establishing such a glorious adventure on a Ponzi scheme? Indeed, who else would make a scholar of the historiography of accountancy the heroine of this universe peopled with "robotised" exoskeletons of the Fragile (that's us, ordinary humans, by the way), mermaids and piratical space-bat underwriters?
Stross writes so well, with humour mixed in with electrifying pace... Don't forget to breathe in at the end of each chapter! He sprinkles gems along the way: "... please take the glue-gun kit and proceed to Mausoleum Companionway Three...", "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that every interstellar colony in search of good fortune must be in need of a banker.", "Death is really no more than the voluntary liquidation of an economy of microscopic free agents, the redemption of the debt of structured life." and my favourite, "The difference between merchant banking and barefaced piracy is slimmer than most people imagine."
And now I think about it I was foolish to scoff at that possible career in accountancy and banking....
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on 28 September 2014
This is a tale of robots, interstellar space travel, body modification, economics, child abuse, brain downloading, deep sea diving, and more. This is set in the same universe as Saturn’s Children, although several thousand years later, when the robots have established an interstellar civilisation. Krina Alizond is a clone-daughter of Sondra, trained as a historical economics librarian, now at loose on the universe, trying to track down her clone-sister. The reason gradually becomes clear: they have a great secret, and lots of other people are after it.

The robots are “humans”, but not the old-fashioned “fragile” variety: those keep going extinct. These new improved less-fragile people still have many of the same issues, though, only with longer lives and stronger more malleable bodies for those issues to play out in.

The main thrust of the book, leavened by many delicious little scenes of utter madness, is how to run a currency across interstellar space when there is only slower-than-light travel, and the scams that can be played as a result. That might sound potentially dull, but remember, this is Stross. The complex plot weaves several threads skilfully together, until the final denouement where all becomes clear (and Stross again subverts Weber).

Good fun, with some deep ideas, and I gave it my vote for the Hugo this year.
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on 12 August 2014
The core story of the book is wonderful, and there's a rich amount of world building that runs deep from accountancy, the interaction of finance and society to radiation and the physics of (non-FTL) space flight. However, it feels like there's far, far too much going on, the plot lines do all intersect and tie together but it as you read through it there's a slight lack of flow until it's all pieced together. Stross is accused (unfairly, in my opinion) of not being able to write an end to a book, but for this one it feels like he ran out of steam or had to drastically trim the word count in and the ending comes and goes in the blink of an eye without a lot of resolution.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book, I just wish the payoff was delivered slightly better.
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on 23 September 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and I found a new concept in it that I still like. It moves along tirelessly and goes through lots of scenes before reaching the climax. Astounding! very interesting from many points of view and of course involving space travel in the future. Best read of 2017.
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on 21 July 2014
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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on 22 May 2014
I am a big fan of Charles Stross' Laundry series but haven't read that many of his space sci-fi novels. Initially I struggled to get into this book but it really draws you in. Charles has created a very detailed and rich hard sci-fi universe that seems totally believable. The main character Krina is mostly along for the ride as the observer. Interesting things happen to her but she doesn't really have any control over them. This is a plot device used by other authors which I don't really like but with this book it doesn't actually matter. I really loved the extremely well thought out descriptions of his future post human civilisation. The ending was very abrupt and as other reviewers have said it would have been nice to have an epilogue.
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on 17 February 2017
Was really enjoying this book until the end, I do not know if the author just got fed up or was onto something else but 98% of the book had lots of detail, characters plots etc and then suddenly within a couple of pages its all wrapped up, glibly and ignoring many of the earlier strands, a real let down
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on 4 February 2014
Is the man capable of writing a bad book?

Not so far, and this is no exception.

Wonderfully topical - the plot centres around "slow money" (in essence, Bitcoin), in a galaxy being colonised at small fractions of light speed, using what amounts to a Ponzi scheme.

Metahumans, mad tech and even madder users, cloning, nano - it's all here. And some sly references for the meme-spotters among us.

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on 23 July 2013
OK, opera is rarely performed on the church organ. But this book is a fine mix of Stross's trademark Grand Guignol and his superbly enthusiastic world-building: from the space-faring insider traders they call pirates, to the Soviet squid-people of the ultimate deep. Basically independent of Saturn's Children - a lot changes in a thousand years.
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on 18 July 2017
Charles Stross never lets you down the second novel in this series continues to astonish
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