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HOUSE OF SUNS by Alastair Reynolds


by Alastair Reynolds

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-441-01717-1
Publisher: Ace/Berkley

Far-future, galaxy-spanning space opera involving clones, robots, mass murder and hundreds of post-human cultures, some alive, most extinct, set in a universe different than Reynolds' Revelation Space yarns (Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, 2005, etc.).

Six million years ago, from a civilization known as the Golden Hour, the House of Flowers—comprising the thousand male and female immortal clones, or “shatterlings,” of Abigail Gentian—set off to explore the galaxy. Every 200,000 years they meet up to celebrate and share memories. Since they travel at sublight speeds, most of this time is spent in stasis, so they do not so much live history as tunnel through it, as one of the characters observes. It's often a weakness, since readers are afforded glimpses of dozens of cultures without being offered involvement in any. Our alternating narrators—a third narrative strand features Abigail becoming addicted to a simulated-reality role-playing game, for reasons that only become clear much later—impetuous, courageous Campion and smarter, more empathic Purslane, are an item, against House rules. They're running late for the next reunion and need ship repairs. A piratical post-human named Ateshga attempts to trick Campion, but Purslane outwits him and rescues memory-impaired Hesperus. The three reach the reunion site 50 years late, only to learn that the Flowers have been ambushed and all but wiped out. Campion and Hesperus rescue a handful of Gentians—50 out of a surviving 900-odd. But why the slaughter, and who did it? Believe it or not, the Andromeda Galaxy is a major plot issue.

Absorbing, but lacking the edgy brilliance and almost desperate urgency of the Revelation novels.