Six million years ago, at the dawn of the starfaring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones, which she called shatterlings. But now, someone is eliminating the Gentian line. Campion and Purslane, two shatterlings who have fallen in love and shared forbidden experiences, must determine exactly who, or what, their enemy is, before they are wiped out of existence.
My Review of House of Suns
The clones of the Gentian line, known as shatterlings, have spent millions of years travelling the galaxy with the aim of seeing as much as they can and reuniting after every journey to share the knowledge amongst themselves. They are eternal tourists, long lived with deep sleep technology, and time does not mean the same thing to them as it does to us.
One tour of the galaxy can take hundreds of thousands of years, by the time one of them returns to a previously visited planet whole civilisations can have risen and fallen!
To be able to travel this way they have some truly amazing spaceships and technology that allows them to extend their lifetimes or sleep in suspended animation for the journeys between planets.
Alistair Reynolds has a talent for writing massive tales of galaxy and time spanning proportions, and House of Suns does not disappoint. But he also manages to ground these space operas with human and relatable characters. Here we have Campion and Purslane, two Gentian clones that have fallen in love with each other and now risk being shunned by the rest of the shatterlings in their line.
Through their eyes we experience the wonders of the galaxy, and the people they meet on their travels. Campion is a bit of a wild card, prone to risky decisions and ill-advised schemes, and Purslane is a much more sensible and sophisticated character, she is thoughtful and compassionate.
Along the way they pick up Hesperus, a ‘Machine Person’ they rescue from a con-man, almost by mistake. Hesperus is a self-aware robot that is far smarter, stronger and much more adaptable than humans are, but he has lost his memory.
Their spaceships are almost characters in their own right. Intelligent and unique, when one of the characters almost looses her spaceship she reacts as though she is losing a loved friend.
So this has everything I would want in a book, spaceships, robots, amazing tech, I basically loved it from the first page! Then the Gentian line’s reunion is ambushed and the Gentians are almost wiped out, and the story becomes almost a murder mystery.
There are some bigger themes in there too, questioning if the use of torture can ever be justified, and the treatment of less advanced or less powerful cultures
I can’t really be objective about this book so I’m not going to even try. I loved it and I think it’s a must read for anyone that enjoys sci-fi.