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House of Suns

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  14,905 Ratings  ·  776 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 502 pages
Published March 2009 by Gollancz (first published April 17th 2008)
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Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!

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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, sf-top-20

"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 and hundr
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
La mejor ciencia ficción que se escribe actualmente corre por parte de los autores británicos, y eso es incuestionable. Talentos de la talla de Iain M. Banks, Peter F. Hamilton, Paul McAuley, Ian R. MacLeod, Charles Stross, Stephen Baxter o el mismo Alastair Reynolds, son buena prueba de ello. Todos poseen talento e imaginación, pero Alastair tiene algo que lo convierte en único, posee inventiva y ambición por superarse a sí mismo en cada libro, aunque no siempre lo consigue, pero al menos siemp ...more
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
David Sven
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, audiobooks
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
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
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Shelves: sf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
This book is a bit different than most of the others that inhabit the “Revelation Space” universe. While it is a common backdrop to several books, they are not the classic Act 1, Act 2, Act 3, ad nauseam type of series where a few key characters inhabit multiple stories. (Don’t shoot me just yet. I also like series such as that – even trilogies that have five or six volumes.) Even though each has its own separate plots and actors, much of the tales exist within a span off 200-300 years. Not so t ...more
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 and
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The pacing of Alastair Reynolds' novels feel a bit predicatable when you've read a few. A bit like Nirvana songs from the Nevermind album. Despite that, I'm always completely absorbed by his characters and their worlds so it's not such a bad thing.

House of Suns is another epic space opera. Our narrators are from a society of future humans struggling with emerging machine intelligences, other more exotic human iterations, family betrayals and old fashioned love affairs across the aeons.

Our huma
Sep 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is the kind of novel Reynolds was meant to write. Full of big ideas and wow scenarios. An unusual and entertaining focal character. A charming robot who's just a little bit quirky. A love story that transcends millenia. And a trip to another galaxy. The author puts it all together in a compelling read full of sfnal surprise and sense of wonder.

As always, there are the familiar Reynolds elements. Kilometers long space ships. No faster than light travel (except for one). Profound astronomical

Daniel Gonzalo
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pedazo Novelón. Puede que sea la mejor de novela de Space Opera Hard que he leído. Brutal
Ben Babcock
One of those books that picks you up and takes you on a journey. I was ambivalent about it at first, but I quickly became enthusiastic. Reynolds' style allows for an ease of exposition: in a couple of sentences, he can give you an idea of the nature of several different civilizations without going too in depth. This skill allows him to construct the epic scope required for a space opera of this nature.

And epic it is indeed. Spanning millions of years, House of Suns deals with space travel in a r
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Reynolds, Hard SF, space opera fans
Shelves: sf-fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A couple of years ago I made a conscious effort to advance my reading habits and actively seek out the best that Sci-Fi had to offer rather than casually browse the local bookshop.
The path swiftly and inevitably led to Alistair Reynolds.

I started at the obvious place, the Revelation Space trilogy and my mind was promptly blown to pieces. House of Suns was supposed to be a quick Reynolds side-track before returning to the other Revelation space novels only to find what is so far the single greate
Antonio Diaz
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La primera novela de Alastair Reynolds que leo y definitivamente no es un autor que deje indiferente a nadie.

En House of Suns el autor nos dibuja un espacio que se ve enorme por la ausencia de métodos de vuelo superlumínicos. Reynolds juega muy bien y aprovecha al máximo los efectos relativistas de los viajes espaciales con las Líneas. Entre eso y los Big Dumb Objects tenemos la sensación de entrar en una habitación enorme siendo casi microscópicos toda la novela.

El punto más flojo es el perfila
Paul Forbes
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my. What a wonderful book. Beautifully written. Engaging characters. Brilliant story. Great ending. This is one of the best novels I've ever read, let alone one of the best sci-fi. Every single page has something to add to the story, there are no pages thrown in to pad it out it's 502 pages. It might be a bit heavy for non science fiction fans (some of it deals with faster than light travel and why it's impossible) but for fans of the genre it's very highly recommended. I think I've found my ...more
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pocas veces una novela de ciencia ficción me ha enganchado tantísimo.

Me ha gustado muchísimo en conjunto, pero si tengo que destacar algo es la capacidad del autor para dosificar la información, creo que lo hace de un modo brillante y consigue mantener el interés en todo momento, aunque por su temática no sea precisamente una lectura ligera.

Si te gusta la ciencia ficción, no te la pierdas. Es una novela fascinante.
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Alastair Reynolds, former scientist and now full-time writer. Most of what he writes is science fiction, with a strong concern for scientific verisimilitude (although he is prepared to break the rules for the sake of a good story). He has lived in England, Scotland and the Netherlands where he worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency until 2004, but now makes his home back in his ...more
More about Alastair Reynolds...

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“The first six million years had been all fun and games.” 11 likes
“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.” 11 likes
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