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House of Suns

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  22,619 ratings  ·  1,184 reviews
Six million years ago, at the dawn of the star-faring 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 a ...more
Paperback, Free edition with SFX magazine-August 2010, 512 pages
Published 2010 by Gollancz (first published April 17th 2008)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  22,619 ratings  ·  1,184 reviews

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Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Clone family meeting galactically gone wrong.

One of Reynolds´single novels, it deals with immortality, childhood trauma through alternative upbringing involving simulations and AIs, an option how conglomerates could evolve, machine intelligence in the form of old and new robots, a crime in the past, future torture methods, and thereby unites anything that makes Sci-Fi great.

Childhood memories have already played an essential role in Chasm City, where it was part of showing the special attitude a
Kevin Kelsey
Posted at Heradas Review

This is my first Alastair Reynolds standalone novel. Having previously absorbed everything remotely related to his Revelation Space series over the last few years, I wanted to dip my toes into some of his one-off writing before digging into his newer series work. For some reason this book has been out of print in the US for a few years, making a physical copy a little tedious to come by, but I did eventually find one. Come on ACE, it’s time for a reprint!

Coming from the R
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Words can't describe how much I love this book! The quality of the writing in the first chapter gripped me and wouldnt let me stop reading. It is a fabulous scifi space opera with fantastic characters you root for. The most impressive thing is the world building, and how the complex science becomes understandable and readable in a way that you don't normally find in these types of books.
Between discovering Reynolds and Banks, I feel like I'm in my own scifi novel Renaissance!
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Surprisingly uninteresting.

(Un)profound thoughts on genre: every genre has its icons, and Reynolds seems to be one of science fiction's favorites, with at least sixteen books and many, many, more shorts and novellas. With a PhD in astrophysics, he even has the professional cred in science. But can he write?

The Dan 2.Ω and carol. jury is still out on that one. I can tell you that he is in desperate need of editing.

I've been finding myself asking, are genre icons too big to fail? Everyone in-gen

NEW Review, Written After Reading

Comment #25 onwards was made after adding this section.

Good old-fashioned futuristic adventure at its best. Intelligent, well-written escapism about encounters between advanced human intelligences and even more advanced machine intelligences.

Reynolds often writes novels with three-strands, set in different worlds and eons, that gradually come together. This is a simpler, single, story, but it's epic in time and distance. There is adventure, love and loyalty, atta
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-top-20, favorites

"I had already seen dozens of empires come and go, blossoming and fading like lilies on a pond, over and over, seasons without end. Many of those empires were benevolent and welcoming, but others were inimical to all outside influences. It made no difference to their longevity. The kind empires withered and waned as quickly as the hostile ones."


The above passage from House of Suns serves to illustrate the author's grandiose scheme for this book. The story spans millions of years a
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Others have covered the plotline and central conceits of the novel very well, so I will forbear. The plot is excellent, as are the ideas. What sets House of Suns far apart from other space operas is the sheer scope and scale of the thing and the fact that the immensity of it all does not drown the beautiful humanity displayed by the main characters, Campion and Purslane, two clones of the Gentian line who have been illicitly involved in a forbidden relationship with one another.

When I was a kid,
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by: apatt
I loved the hopefulness of this grand conception of humanity in the far future. I was surprised it worked so well for me as there is so much uncertainty about human survival on the near term that I figured speculation on a timescale would feel fairly meaningless. For example, I just couldn’t relate to the spiritual beings of Well’s “Time Machine”, the Eloi, and I was weirded out by the remnant human society clinging to a distant future existence in Benford’s “Great Sky River.” Here we have a lin ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After reading some really awesome reviews from Cecily and Apatt, and despite the fact that I've already read ten of his novels and short story collections, I've been feeling quite ashamed that I still hadn't read this well-regarded novel. So I sat my butt down and made it my eleventh. :)

Could I possibly be disappointed at this point? Nope. At least, not for the sheer scale and scope of this post-humanity romp of over 6 million years, where a certain girl named Abigail clones herself and her mind
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
House of Suns: Truly epic time scales, but characters also shine
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
This is the first Alastair Reynolds’ book I’ve read not set in his REVELATION SPACE series, and many of his fans claim it’s his best book. I’d have to say it is pretty impressive, dealing with deep time scales rarely seen for any but the most epic hard SF books. What’s unique about House of Suns is not simply that the story spans hundreds of thousands of years, but that the characters actually
I meant to take it easy, but ended up blowing through the second half of this book in just 3 days. The pages just kept on turning by themselves, and I didn't get much sleep.

Woke up this morning and was like

But seriously. What year is it?

This is not a review because I don't have enough science in me to understand it or to begin diving in and deconstructing it, but I did enjoy it very much and it's easily one of the best books I've read this year, maybe even this millennium. Will have to return f
Manuel Antão
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Dr. Strangelove in Colour: "House of Suns" by Alastair Reynolds

When I was in high-school in the 80's, a bunch of hippy drama students came in and told us we were going to travel through time. They took us into a tent which had been set up in the school hall and told us to close or eyes and concentrate for a minute. When that time was up, they took us out of the tent and started expressively wandering around the school hall, exclaiming
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
When Barnes and Noble still only selled a hardcover version of this book a few years ago, I read the blurb on the inside cover and was like wtf? The story line seemed like too much even for me, and even after I was still giddy from plowing through the excellent Revelation Space series Reynolds is famous for. The idea of reading a bizarre story about cloned male and female "shatterlings" of a single person that travel in "circuits" around the galaxy (which last roughly, oh
about 200,000 years or
So one of the biggest constraints of the space opera genre is answering the question of faster than light (FTL) travel. Star Trek and the Star Carrier series gets around it using a modification of the Alcubierre Drive. The Old Man's War series mucks around with alternate universes. The Expanse does a fantastic job adapting the Space Opera genre to just the solar system, obviating the need for faster than light travel.

The House of Suns says screw it, we don't need no stinking FTL, and we're doing
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
Right after finishing, I declared this may be my favourite read, since I first came across Pride and Prejudice two decades ago, which means a lot, trust me. Don't worry though, this is NOTHING like Pride and Prejudice.

House of Suns is something special. Filled with wonders and surprises. A story spanning millions of years and several galaxies. It took me a few chapters to wrap my head around the world; it's a lot to take in at first. Afterwards, I couldn't put it down. I just ploughed through, s
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone
After reading House of Suns, I must resist the urge to just binge read everything Alistair Reynolds has ever written over, and over. There are other fantastic books, and authors out there. Al's writing, though, speaks to me. I'm not one of those people obsessed with comparisons, "THIS IS THE BEST EVUR!!!!", but I will say at this point in my life, Al is my favorite author.

Having read the short story "Thousandth Night" from "Beyond the Aquila Rift", I had a short introduction to the Gentian Line
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful and delightful. Certainly his best full-length novel. Three primary characters - Purslane and Campion are lovers, and Hesperus is a rescued "Machine Person" - have enough depth and heart and intelligence to sparkle. The long-winded, page-filling, static dialogue as too-often seen in previous full novels, is blessedly absent here. Well done, Alastair!

A comfortable start into a plot spanning 6 million years; but don't worry, we only see appropriate slices of this expanse of time. The boo
"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.

I was a girl then, a single individual called Abigail Gentian."

This is such a fantastic novel! It explores memory, identity, culpability, love among two clones of the same person, intimacy, gender, human potential, and VAST time frames (while staying closely with the main characters). Its setting is th
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've read almost all of Alastair Reynolds's books. "House of Suns" is the most recent I've read, and it just took me away. I don't necessarily recommend it be the first of his works that you read (visit his website to see his recommendations), but for anyone who loves space opera which spans millions of years and millions of light-years, his works, especially this one, are second to none. He is an astrophysicist, and having some knowledge of Einstein's Special and General Relativity allows one t ...more
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The story of 6 million year old human clones that cruise the galaxy, hooking-up every 200,000 years to share their treasure troves of knowledge and party down. So who the hell would wanna crash and kill such a cool party? The surviving clones, along with their machine C3PO-like buddy, must span galaxies to find out. With mind bending ideas and intergallactic travels, this is an awesome story. One of my all-time favorites. Six stars and highly recommended.
Chris Berko
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best science fiction book I have ever read. That's all I'm going to say, that's all that needs to be said. The best science fiction book I have ever read. ...more
David Sven
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, sci-fi
Solid storytelling from Reynolds and a solid performance by audio narrator John Lee combined to make this one of the stand out novels in the Reynolds library. This book was evenly paced in that I didn't feel that there was any lull in the plot or the slow start that is characteristic of many of Reynolds' books. I was engaged with the story from start to finish.

Of the Reynolds books I've read so far that are set in different worlds than Revelation Space, this is the most like his original signatu
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
I normally tend not to write reviews on fiction works, as I prefer to focus more on my non-fictional readings, but this time I felt compelled to write something about this masterpiece.
It has been a long time since I had last experienced the pleasure of reading such a beautiful example of space opera.
The width and scope of this ambitious work are simply breathtaking; we are dealing here with a visionary, outstanding work of hard science fiction that manages to address many traditional themes of
Apr 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wales, sf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book has all the hallmarks of Alastair Reynolds' writing: Grand scale space opera with a convoluted and fascinating plot that only fully unravels at the very end. If you like other of Alastair Reynolds' space opera, I am quite certain this one will not disappoint.

I liked the way that there was a bit of fantasy intertwined in the story but all contained in a technologically feasible way. The main plot, however, concerns one of several groups of clones that travel the galaxy spending a lot of
L.S. Popovich
A dense mosaic of mesmerizing notions injected with a jumbo-sized hypo of s-f crack, rich with subtle corollaries of theory and conjecture. Huge, labyrinthine, wild. My first Reynolds. Now I have that combination of elation and despair, knowing that I'm in it for the long haul. I have to read all of his books. There's no way around it. Only, what the hell? 10,000 pages to go...

Standing on the shoulders of such giants as Asimov, Clarke, Niven, and basically everyone, Reynolds paints a massive mur
Robert Delikat
I am always on the lookout for new SF authors. I have read most if not all of Hamilton, Clarke, Vonnegut, Wells, Simmons, Asimov, and Herbert among other greats. This was my first Alastair Reynolds book. I cannot say I was overwhelmed by it in any way. When I read by a reviewer that I follow that Reynolds pushes the boundaries of the genre in new directions, I was ready for something special. I feel disappointed.

That a progenitor fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones seemed in
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another exquisite novel of Al R - so intense, so full of meanings, so full of action, so dense, so vast, so beguiling, that I don’t know with what to begin my eulogy.

- with the colorful universe?
"Ateshga’s world […] was an outrageous confection of a planet: a striped marshmallow giant with a necklace of sugary rings, combed and braided by the resonant forces of a dozen glazed and candied moons."

- with the reflections about civilizations when measured on time scale?
"People lived and died
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, space-opera
Quite vast and very intelligent, this sci-fi/space opera book borders on hard science fiction, but at the same time Reynolds, who is quickly becoming one of my most favorite writers, manages to achieve what most, in my experience, fail to do. That's creating strong, well developed, realistic characters - both human and AI, by the way - and that is not something trivial to achieve. And at the same time, neither plot nor the scientific parts had been sacrificed for characters. Don't know about you ...more
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of epic space opera and characters with depth
If it was possible to give this novel 6 stars, I would. I finished it just half an hour ago, and I'm still floating out there in space, unwilling to return to the confinements of our small blue planet.

"House of Suns" is big in every sense of the word, and it would have been easy to bury the characters, their feelings and relationships under the vast scope of time the story covers, the gigantic spaceships, the huge mysteries and conflicts.
That doesn't happen. Amidst the rise and fall of entire c
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I'm Al, I used to be a space scientist, and now I'm a writer, although for a time the two careers ran in parallel. I started off publishing short stories in the British SF magazine Interzone in the early 90s, then eventually branched into novels. I write about a novel a year and try to write a few short stories as well. Some of my books and stories are set in a consistent future named after Revela ...more

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“To see something marvellous with your own eyes - that’s wonderful enough. But when two of you see it, two of you together, holding hands, holding each other close, knowing that you’ll both have that memory for the rest of your lives, but that each of you will only ever hold an incomplete half of it, and that it won’t ever really exist as a whole until you’re together, talking or thinking about that moment ... that’s worth more than one plus one. It’s worth four, or eight, or some number so large we can’t even imagine it.” 21 likes
“The first six million years had been all fun and games.” 13 likes
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