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House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds
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House of Suns (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Alastair Reynolds

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1,043368,087 (4.02)39
Member:gimble
Title:House of Suns
Authors:Alastair Reynolds
Info:Ace Hardcover (2009), Edition: 1St Edition, Hardcover, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (2008)

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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Still holds up on my second read. I really love this book and hope Reynolds will come back to the universe he wove together here sometime later in his career and add more to it. ( )
  tlockney | Sep 7, 2014 |
I found this a bit difficult to read but loved the story. The challenge in reading was the details of the world - needed but heavy going. The story and the characters were haunting. ( )
  Perrywilson | May 24, 2014 |
Very much a Reynolds novel, with (on the one hand) indistinct characterization and (on the other) lines like “I watched Hesperus streak forward and then slam past Mezereon’s position, missing her by barely half a million kilometres.” Come for the steely-hard sci-fi, stay for the worldbuilding. ( )
  sben | Feb 11, 2014 |
House of Suns
By Alastair Reynolds
Publisher: Ace Books
Published In: New York City, NY, USA
Date: 2008
Pgs: 473

REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Summary:
The Age of Starfaring. Six Million Years, the twinkling of an eye. Abigail Gentian clones herself a thousand times, making of herself both male and female duplicates which she refers to as shatterlings. They’ve lived for thousands of years, gathering once a cycle to exchange information and status from their travels. Now, someone is executing the Gentian Line, the House of Flowers. The many children of Earth have scattered across the galaxy many deviating far from the genetic norms of Earth’s humans. Two of the Gentian Line find themselves on the run, two shatterlings in love and sharing forbidden experiences, they have to find who the enemy is and how to stop them before the Line is wiped from existence.

Genre:
fiction, science fiction, space opera, genetics,

Why this book:
The summary got me when I picked up the book while looking for something else.

This Story is About:
the hidden sweep of history, even the parts that get forgotten either through intention or accident; family; massive scope of time

Favorite Character:
Pursulane, one of the shatterlings of the Gentian Line, mistress of the Silver Wings of Morning.

Least Favorite Character:
Mennix because of his coming across the way he does. Seems to hate everything and have a massive inferiority complex. Odd that he is done away with as early on as he is. I expected him to play a Dr. Smith roles, ala Lost in Space, as the story matured through its pages.
Campion because he comes across as a weaker version of Mennix sometimes.

The Feel:
Clunky, mostly because of the narrator perspective shifts. The story is huge, covering an entire galaxy and beyond and a span of thousands of millennia. The story is very Grant Morrison-like in which huge ideas and backdrop window dressing are dropped out there and then not explained. The feel of the novel changes significantly when in the course of a spate of pages Fescue’s message of doom and betrayal and the death of Mennix. At the description of the attack on the Gentian Line’s reunion planet, I found myself thinking about Yoda’s “begun this clone war has” line from Star Wars. Add that to the Luke-Leia relationship between two of the Gentian Line clones and you start to get sort of an “but she’s/he’s your sibling” kind of feel, and you begin to feel a mirror of some base Star Wars/sci fi classic tropes feeling. I use the word trope here not intended in a bad way at all. Just a feeling.
The scope of the story feels too large, too many years, too many eons, too many centuries.
The story reaches toward Clarkian or Asimovian levels with its gigantic sweep.

Favorite Scene:
The scene where Hesperus reveals the “secret” that he had just discovered about himself that Mennix walked in on to Puruslane and Campion. The line…
“If my years as a shatterling had taught me anything, it was that not all questions had answers. Societies had reduced themselves to radioactive dust because they could not accept that single unpalatable truth.”

Fescue’s message describing the destruction of the Genian Line’s reunion world is an awesome description of apocalypse and betrayal.
The arrival of The Spirit of the Air on Neume when it takes the remains of Hesperus up into itself as an offering and takes Pursulane and Campion for a ride in the machine cloud.

Settings:
Milky Way Galaxy; The Gentian home planetoid within the Golden Hour; the dyson enclosed star of the Centaur world; Ateshga’s gas giant, the Ship Dalliance; the Ship Silver Wings in Morning; Palatial the game world inside the playroom; Gentian Line’s reunion world and it’s nebulous remains following the attack on the Line;

Pacing:
The pace of the story is slow. Maybe it will accelerate as we move through the text. The story is done a disservice by the shifting of perspective between Pursulane and Campion. Not because there’s anything wrong with that, more that they are both treated as “I” from a narrator perspective. I believe this is contributing to the clunky feel that I am getting from the story. When the story shifts back to the young Gentian on the planetoid back in the Golden Hour, the pacings shifts. I believe the pacing issues in the other sections relates to Pursulane and Campion being too close together, too alike as characters for them to have disparate and differing perspectives even though the focus switches back and forth on a chapter to chapter basis. The chapter where the attack on the Gentian reunion world is described flows much easier and smoother than the rest of the book through that point. From that part of the book forward, the pacing increases.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:
All those freed from Ateshga’s honey trap just disappear from the story without a word spoken to them despite their being mentions of how some of them are important personages.
Gentian Line debate everything, even in the midst of crisis as they race to catch up with Pursulane during the Silver Wings theft.

Last Page Sound:
Hmmm.

Author Assessment:
I love the big idea-ness of the story, backstory, and scene setting. The scope is overpowering.

Editorial Assessment:
Could have tried to get the author to soft pedal the character debate during climax moments. The debate in the face of action short circuits some of the drama of the moment. In some of these instances, there is some expository repetition.

Did the Book Cover Reflect the Story:
A large ship hovering either for takeoff or landing over a moonish landscape. A lot of the story action and exposition takes place onboard the ships; Dalliance and Silver Wings in Morning.

Song the Story Reminds me of or That Plays in my Head While Reading:
N/A

Hmm Moments:
I’m left hmming about the freed people from Ateshga that aren’t mentioned again. Especially considering how important some of these people are intimated to be by the cast of the story.
What does it mean if two of the clones are engaged in an intimate and sexual relationship? Is there a word for it? It’s a Luke and Leia moment to be sure.
The “begun this clone war has” moment.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
instant classic, real classic, really good book, glad I read it, it’s alright, meh!, why did I read this, not as good as I was lead to believe

Disposition of Book:
Irving Public Library, Irving, TX

Why isn’t there a screenplay?
The story would lose a lot if it were on screen. There would need to be too much exposition to really flesh a movie out like the novel does. The world of a movie based in the House of Suns would be stymied by its inability to communicate the vastness of its more Morrisonian aspects.

Casting call:
I could see Mel Gibson or Keanu Reeves either inside the role of Hesperus. Maybe one as Hesperus and the other as The Spirit of the Air of Neume.

Would recommend to:
genre fans, space opera fans ( )
  texascheeseman | Nov 27, 2013 |
Drama over millions of years and millions of miles. For awhile, I thought it might be a romeo and juliet, but not so. There were several trajectories and each did not seem to come together. It was a long listen and the narrator carried a thick Brit accent and I began to wonder about the missing "R": "dark" sounded like "dock." The book finally ended and I don't think I'd listen to another if this is a series. ( )
  buffalogr | Oct 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
I found House Of Suns incredibly clever and sweeping and thought-provoking, and it all pays off in the final chapter with a very cosmic moment where the story's sweep opens up to take in a much larger, and stranger cosmos than we've glimpsed so far. Once you get past the slow begining, it's an exhilerating read that keeps your brain buzzing the whole time.
 
SPOILERS!

It was apparent from early on that the title of this book was going to be a pun.

The Gentian Line builds stardams. Using ringworlds constructed by a lost civilisation known as the Priors they surround suns completely. Not even a supernova can get through. These suns, then, are housed.

The galaxy-spanning society where the novel is set contains many Lines known as Houses who employ stasis technology in their aeons long trips around the galaxy. The Lines’ members are called shatterlings, clones of their respective founders - but of both sexes - each with their founders’ memories. The Gentians’ founder, Abigail Gentian, had a strange, artificially extended childhood, brought up in near isolation on a small asteroid enclosing a tethered black hole, with only the game of psychological immersion known as Palatial for diversion.

The shatterlings Campion and Purslane - all the Gentians have names derived from plants - are aberrant in that they are lovers. They are late for their Line’s reunion, an important gathering where all the members’ memories of their latest “circuit” of the galaxy are collected and shared. Before they arrive they receive the news that most of the Gentian Line has been destroyed in an attack. The novel works through their attempts to find out why, the significance of the mysterious occlusion of the Andromeda galaxy, and of the hidden Line called the House of Suns.

The book is split into eight parts each of which begins with a section which follows Abigail’s childhood. Thereafter succeeding chapters are, in turn, narrated from the viewpoints of Campion and Purslane. At first it is difficult to make sense of this as Reynolds does not differentiate their voices clearly enough. The other “characters,” some of whom are machine intelligences, step forward Cadence and Cascade - a King Crimson allusion? - are also not well delineated, even the elephant-like Ugalit Panth.

What Reynolds does give you is plot, in abundance. 500 pages of closely packed print is pushing it a bit, though.
added by piuss | editA Son Of The Rock, Jack Deighton
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alastair Reynoldsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Tracy and Grace: big and little sister, with love
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I was born in a house with a million rooms, built on a small, airless world on the edge of an empire of light and commerce that the adults called the Golden Hour, for a reason I did not yet grasp.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575082372, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:38 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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