Wednesday, June 30, 2010

House of Suns -- Alastair Reynolds.

I finally got round to reading this (I really needed the escape) and enjoyed it immensely. Mr Reynolds also got double royalties from me due to my increasingly disfunctional memory – I bought one copy through either Amazon or The Book Depository, and then picked up another in Waterstones.


It has everything I want from him: huge concepts played out on a vast stage, enjoyable characters, gobsmacking technology (bollocks to nanotech, he goes straight for the jugular with femtotech) and a great story extending across aeons. I particularly liked the way, at one point, that he sneaked around causality. Some might think, with his adherence to the galactic speed limit, that he’s made a rod for his own back as far as story telling goes. It strikes me that a consequence of him limiting himself to sub-FTL travel is that the stage expands to somewhere approaching its true size. What Reynolds does best is give some sense of the true scale of what lies out there. Maybe that’s something difficult to achieve without spending years peering through a telescope and letting the vastness of what you see settle in your bones.

I’m probably speaking to the converted when I say, ‘Highly recommended,’ since most of you reading this blog have probably already read this book.

Footnote.

The character Purslane in this book received a hologram of an emerald beetle. I can’t find that particular section at the moment but it sticks in my mind because this bugger landed in Caroline’s lap only a week before I started reading the book.


The interconnectness of things? Just the inevitability of human brains full of experience and knowledge interfacing with large books full of ... experience and knowledge.

14 comments:

Max Kaehn said...

I was surprised to see that people are already talking about femtotech design.

James said...

Glad you got around to this one of his books, I really hope he goes back to this universe, House of Suns really deserves expanding. On a side note, you have cost me more bloody money! I have a just got a great replacement for my iPhone, a small tablet/smartphone from Dell, called a Streak, I have loaded the new Kindle App, and hey presto I can buy all your books, all over again....new tech is great, but Christ it costs!!

packrat54 said...

I'm a reader who has come late to the Alister Reynolds party and am on-board for the long haul. I've read two of his books and have two waiting their turn. Next in my queue saved for my vacation trip which begins next week is The Voyage of the Sable Keech. Waiting around in airport terminals isn't so bad.

Jebel Krong said...

much more cheerful post again at last. something to take your mind off recent weeks is good.

never got into reynolds myself, and i feel it's a bit late now...hm.

Mark T Croucher said...

Never to late to get into a writer in my opinion. Read his work, it's very good.

I'm reading your mate Tony's Blood and Iron at the moment. He's shifting through the gears as well now as a writer.

I often go between old classics and a new book and also have just finished "The dreaming Jewels" by Theodore Sturgeon. Considering this was written in 1950 it is quite an edgy book with simple but a gripping storyline.

Hope Crete has not disillusioned you to much and look forward to seeing you home, maybe at a signing for The Technician?

chrisheli said...

House of Suns was very good indeed with Mr Reynolds expanding on 'Thousandth Night'. One of the few SF writers to have come up with an ingenious work around to the FTL travel paradoxes.
Also finished the new offering from Mr. Ballantyne - finding the story slow, with the constant change to so many viewpoints. The cover refers to his 'deceptively simple style. Praised with faint damns methinks.
Just trying out John Meaney for the first time with his 'Paradox' books. Anything but simple it seems to me. Any views on this chap Neal? If I can't get into it then I've got Mr Gibson's 'Empire of Light' waiting for my attention - the third of a trilogy that is buzzing!

佩春 said...

Pen and ink is wits plough.................................................................

Jebel Krong said...

chrisheli: john meaney's paradox books are very good & quite hardcore. some elements of deus ex machina at the end of one of them (the 2nd i think: context), i also recommend the slight precursor to paradox: to hold infinity.

bascule said...

In this months SFX mag there is a voucher which will get you a free copy of "House of Suns" from Waterstones.

List of stores here

cameron said...

Double royalties to you too!.... just been downloading more of your books to re-read with my iPad using the kindle app...... some of us had forgetten just how great gridlinked and line of polity are.

冠慧 said...

卡爾.桑得柏:「除非先有夢,否則一切皆不成。」共勉!............................................................

Graeme said...

Femtotechnology is a term used by some futurists to refer to structuring of matter on a femtometer scale, by analogy with nanotechnology and picotechnology. This involves the manipulation of excited energy states within atomic nuclei (see nuclear isomer) to produce metastable (or otherwise stabilized) states with unusual properties. In the extreme case, excited states of the individual nucleons that make up the atomic nucleus (protons and neutrons) are considered, ostensibly to tailor the behavioral properties of these particles (though this is in practice unlikely to work as intended).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femtotechnology

Lynn said...

I have only read one of Reynolds' books so far - Revelation Space. I thought it was excellent.

I have to confess that, as a reader, I am hooked on FTL, artificial gravity and all those other space opera trappings but there are a lot of good stories that do without those conveniences.

Simen K. said...

Just wanted to drop a line when one of my favorite authors discusses a book by another of my favorite authors. :-) "House of Suns" is very good! (Reynolds has speculated on femtotech before by the way, in "Pushing Ice", also a very good book.)

I am currently enjoying "Line War"; the Cormac series is awesome fun! I was hooked by the opening of the first book, when Samarkand goes to smithereens.