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House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (2010-05-25) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1800
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Top reviews from the United States
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To set the tone, the book is intelligent, well paced, has good characters, is believable in a scifi perspective and nicely (as far as I am concerned) almost approaches a Phillip K Dick twistedness at times, but is definitely more cogent than say a 'Valis'. It combines good current knowledge of science and some good extrapolations and ideas of what the future might bring. I like that ships do not travel faster than light and how it examines the concept of "deep time" in galactic travels. The characters are interesting, sympathetic, and human. And the are well developed and three dimensional.
The book only dipped once into a place that I had trouble with. Without giving too much away, there was a need to question a bad guy, and the technique they were using seemed to be introduced as a device that was there because it might sound cool or interesting. Aside from not being useful even as portrayed, it just looks like something Reynolds came up with for added coolness, and tried too hard. I don't know, maybe the publisher's editors said he had to add some cool factor (which never works which is why it is a possibility). At that one point, and only that point was the story a little rough getting through. However the strength of the rest of the book easily allows me to rate it 5 stars.
This book was a pleasant surprise.
The story kept me interested and wanting more. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I do recommend you first read his short novella (only $3 on Amazon) "Thousandth Night" which has the same characters and kind of sets up this world.
Some interesting, even provocative ideas, but ultimately not enough to match the daunting scope of a six million year timeline. All that fuss, and it all boils down to people just not being able to get along?!
Top reviews from other countries
Despite some pretty heady concepts, Reynolds keeps the narrative moving along at a decent pace, with a readable tale of buried secrets, betrayal and hidden memories. It's not perfect - whilst the main characters are strong, some of the secondary figures (particularly in the latter half) are a little thinly sketched, and an extensive space chase in the latter stages ironically slows the pace down a bit, but this is certainly a solid slice of science fiction, with just the right mix of SF invention and narrative focus.
Excellent characterisation, truly wonderful plot lines. I really could not put this book down, my poor wife and children were ignored for a long time as I read this book.
Sins of our fathers?no, sins of ourselves. Revisited. IMHO the recent 'Picard' TV series on Amazon stole some ideas from this, but I'll not say which.
This really is thought provoking, top-notch fiction. I don't care which genre you prefer, murder mystery, detectives, science fiction, romance. Its such a great book everyone will enjoy this one. My wife who reads lots of historical fiction loved this book.
The worlds building is OK but is interspersed with long dialogue and boring scenes. There are two plot threads and the second one is so uneventful I’ve just started skipping it.
These characters are suppose to be six million years old but behave like 18 year olds in a young adult novel.
I was hoping this was free but it turns out I paid a tidy sum for it. I’ll probably skim read to the end and leave other books by this author.
It's a beautifully written, deeply philosophical examination of scale, more than anything else - how a galaxy as big as ours might be sampled within the constraints implied by our current understanding of the inherent laws of the universe. There's no faster than light travel, although there is advanced technology that extrapolates from our own in credible ways. The protagonists of the book sample all the galaxy has to offer over lifespans of millions of years, As travel may take hundreds or thousands of years however they can only taste the occasional span of decades in between centuries of stasis or cryogenic suspension. The malleability of time and the staleness of experience are core themes in the book, and executed in both a compelling and hauntingly melancholic way. It's a book full of ideas.
Carl Sagan once said 'The universe is not required to be in harmony with human ambition'. House of Suns offers a hopeful take on a future which still offers much of wonder whilst still honouring the essential limitations implied by Sagan's insight.
I couldn't recommend it highly enough.