SFF180 presents the Virga Readalong! discussion

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Book 1: SUN OF SUNS discussion

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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Wagner (sff180) | 7 comments Mod
This thread is for open discussion of SUN OF SUNS, the first book in the VIRGA series and the first half of the bind-up edition Virga: Cities of the Air. What are your initial impressions of the world that Schroeder has created?


message 2: by Frank (new)

Frank | 3 comments Schroeder has created a world that reminded me of Larry Niven.s Ringworld, very fascinating with an adventure feel that was lacking in Ringworld.


message 3: by Marc (new)

Marc | 12 comments Like I said in my intro. I'm pretty new to SF/F - so I don't mean this to be troll-y - I just finished book one - if someone had handed me this book and not told me anything about it, I'd of never gave it the SciFi label. Why is this Sci-Fi? To my eyes its a YA Aubrey/Maturin Fantasy - it reminds me most of the world of Six of Crows, to name something I've read recently - Victorian/Napoleanic, almost steampunk but no Zeppelins YA fantasy - is this considered SciFi because they are in space?


message 4: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Wagner (sff180) | 7 comments Mod
Virga itself is an SFnal concept, as are elements within its environment (the fusion "suns"). The story itself operates within a classic adventure template. Part of why I chose this series for an SF readalong is that it tells the sort of story that might be more accessible to fantasy readers as well as noobs to science fiction generally, whereas a traditional hard SF story might have been a bit too technical to have broad appeal. So it's fair to say Sun of Suns straddles a few genres.


message 5: by Marc (new)

Marc | 12 comments Thomas wrote: "Virga itself is an SFnal concept, as are elements within its environment (the fusion "suns"). The story itself operates within a classic adventure template. Part of why I chose this series for an S..."

Works for me, thanks.


message 6: by June (last edited Jun 25, 2016 01:54PM) (new)

June I've read only 133 pages so far of Sun of Suns - chapter 12. So far I have been enjoying the read for the most part. (view spoiler)


message 7: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (crflamesfan) I have read the first book and love the story. I have had trouble forming the world in my mind and understanding it, but the story is keeping me going. This is a time when a couple pictures other than what is on the cover of the book would have been good for me. Yeah, I know...it is just me, oh well. I am now waiting for the second book from my library.


message 8: by Thomas (last edited Jun 25, 2016 03:26PM) (new)

Thomas Wagner (sff180) | 7 comments Mod
Hey Cheryl and June. Thanks for taking part! Here's how I visualize Virga: Imagine you're in a plane looking out the window, so there's sky just everywhere. Now, delete the ground from below, and space from up above, so it's all sky, all the time. That's what you're surrounded by, clouds and sky above and below you. Now, you're not in a plane, but you're a skydiver in free fall, but you have no chute. Except you aren't in danger because it's all zero-G. So there you are, afloat in a world of sky.

Off in the distance you see a large bubble of water, like those videos from the space station where the astronauts are having fun swatting around water blobs. But this one is massive, like really, really huge. That's an ocean.

Look the other direction and you'll see something like a huge cluster of plant life. Many years ago, dirt from one of the habitats broke free, and over the years more dirt accumulated until it was a big dirt clod. The moisture in the air helped the random bits of plant life attached to these dirt clods grow and thrive. It's now a couple of miles across. This is a forest.

Far off in the distance you see the sun. This is Candesce, at the very center of this airy space balloon. It's actually a huge artificial light powered by fusion, and it gets brighter and dimmer at intervals conforming to a day/night cycle. All around you see smaller lights farther off. There are tinier artificial suns like Candesce, located out near the distant "skin" of the balloon where it's darker and colder than near the center.

Finally, look right ahead of you. There's an immense machine, a man-made wheel, that is spinning at its hub. It's huge. Along the inner rim of the wheel, you see buildings, enough of them to fill Manhattan, teeming with people. This is a city, and the spinning of the wheel creates normal gravity for the people living in it. In fact, because this one is so huge, it's a nation.

Now you're no longer just floating in the sky. You're straddling a tiny craft like a flying motorcycle, sort of like those cycles they used in Return of the Jedi to fly through the forests of Endor. You throttle up and fly towards the city on the wheel, going home.


message 9: by Adam (new)

Adam Brickley | 7 comments So the initial impression is just "whoooooooooa". The visuals in this thing are just stunning with all the spinning and things tethered to one another. It's stretching my brain just to try and think of this in three dimensions. I'm only at the end of Chapter One but I've already figured out that, strangely, I can't use the audiobook for my bedtime reading because there's just so much visual detail that I need to be awake when I read it or I'll miss something big - which is a good thing in terms of how vivid it is. For some reason my favorite piece so far is the idea of using a rope as a "highway"...which is a minor detail but how else are you going to mark routes in a three dimensional space with no gravity.


message 10: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (crflamesfan) Hi Thomas...thank you! Your description of the world helps me out immensely.


フッセル「リナード」 | 2 comments I was wondering how you Karl imagined Aubri Mahallan, I always thought of here, from the description of her first appearance in Chapter 5, that she is wearing a tight fitting orange jump suit with colourfull accents, and has golden-brown hair.
Kinda a very good looking person which as Chaison said: cloths that are not really fitting on board a military ship being way to slinky.
And given that she is despite her appearance the "mysterious outsider" and an armorer ("a not scary looking woman dealing with weapons? woah!"), she kinda had this "too cool for anyone" vibe for me, yet familiar and friendly once she gets into contact with persons in a small cirlce or "one on one".


message 12: by Karl (new)

Karl Schroeder | 12 comments Because she comes from a much more technologically sophisticated world, Aubri has the benefit of good genetic engineering, body sculpting, facial reconstruction... she can look however she wants to look, like any citizen of Artificial Nature. So, to the people of Virga, she seems unnaturally beautiful. Yes, definitely too cool for the natives, though she's not really aware of that. She has the confidence of someone born to privilege, but is the opposite of Venera, for whom it manifests as petty arrogance.


message 13: by Marc (last edited Jun 26, 2016 09:07AM) (new)

Marc | 12 comments i've finished the first book and have a couple comments - one, the author clearly is influenced by O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series. There is even a character called Aubri Mahallan. Nothing wrong with that, O'Brian's series is one of my favorites and a classic - the problem is that when it comes to action sequences/life on a ship, OBrian writes circles around Mr. Schroeder - the battles are confusing and non-sensical in parts. In one action sequence you are strongly led to believe a daring escape and chase is 3-4 characters, only to find out several pages later they are escaping/being chased with 50-60 other people. I still have only the vaguest of ideas what the Rook looks like. There are also weird non-sequiters, Venera just randomly executes people from time to time like a pyschopath, but we're supposed to grudgingly like or respect her - really? The author also seems really conflicted over whether this is YA or not - you can almost see him writing 'Fuck' on his keyboard then erasing it, then writing it again, such is the hesitancy and awkwardness with which the cursing is used.
There are some parts of the book I really like, and I never thought about not finishing it. The character development, the spinning worlds and the weirdness that entails, the overall plot and possibilities for where the series will go I like. The writing gets stronger as the book progresses as well. Just had to get that little rant off my chest...


message 14: by Marc (new)

Marc | 12 comments Cheryl wrote: "Hi Thomas...thank you! Your description of the world helps me out immensely."

I agree, though it would have been nice had the author made it as clear as Thomas did in a couple paragraphs...


message 15: by June (new)

June Thomas wrote: "Hey Cheryl and June. Thanks for taking part! Here's how I visualize Virga: Imagine you're in a plane looking out the window, so there's sky just everywhere. Now, delete the ground from below, and s..."

Thanks Thomas, your description has helped. Pity it takes til about chapter 8 or so when we meet Aubri to finally get a scoop of the world.


message 16: by Brendan (new)

Brendan Konrad | 2 comments I just finished Sun of Suns today and I really enjoyed it! The characters were interesting and the plot moves and a break-neck pace. I really enjoyed the overall mystery behind the creation of Virga. I just requested book two from my local library so I'll probably have to wait a few days :/


message 17: by June (new)

June I've finished Sun of Suns today and I enjoyed it for the most part. There are some issues I have with the descriptions of the world and some of the action scenes. The only characters I liked were Aubri and Chaison. Venera is still a mystery to me and look forward to more of her in the next book. Hayden is meh, but will see. Even though this is not the greatest sci-fi book it has been enjoyable to figure out the mystery of Virga and Candesce.

Overall I would give this a 3 star rating.

I'm still curious about the comic to help augment some of the scenes in my mind.


message 18: by Laura (new)

Laura Jayne | 2 comments Just reading the battle scene that starts around chapter 10 and I am loving the action. I can just picture the Rook so clearly especially when Chaison leans out to attack the rider. I have to go back to work now so gutted I can't read more now....Hayden is just going to do something brave or bravely foolish!


message 19: by Eric (new)

Eric | 2 comments I am a sucker for a great adventure story. I really enjoyed the visuals in this. From the bikes racing through clouds and the airship battles, to the artificial suns and zero gravity sword fights. Had fun reading this first volume. Looking forward to getting started in the next one. Good stuff.


message 20: by Kris (new)

Kris (krisb83) I had a hard time understanding and visualizing how the world is built and these images helped a lot. Thought others might appreciate it as well.

Image 1

Image 2


message 21: by Steve (new)

Steve (loonacy) I just finished Sun of Suns last night and I have to say I really did enjoy it and will be reading the next one. I will say I am used to a bit more description in the battle/fight scenes but I feel there as enough info to know what was going on and enjoy it. I didn't have the same issues as most when it came to understanding or visualizing the world. I thought it was described ok and got a good grasp of what the world my look like in my head. Maybe that is because I read a few reviews describing it before hand.

I really liked Venera as a character. She was kinda evil and manipulative (possible due to upbringing) but for some reason I liked her no nonsense attitude and can't wait to here more of her story.

All in all I am really glad I read this book and glad to join the discussion.


message 22: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2 comments Sandhouse wrote: "I had a hard time understanding and visualizing how the world is built and these images helped a lot. Thought others might appreciate it as well.

Image 1

Image 2"


Just as a heads up though, Image 1 is a little bit spoilery for later books in the series. The second one is a little as well, but less so and only for the 2nd book.


message 23: by Marc (new)

Marc | 12 comments Sandhouse wrote: "I had a hard time understanding and visualizing how the world is built and these images helped a lot. Thought others might appreciate it as well.

Image 1

Image 2"


wow - great, super technical and helpful - thanks!


message 24: by Adam (new)

Adam Brickley | 7 comments I think you all are way ahead of me :-)

I'm only one Chapter 10 on the audiobook (I'm presently at the water-city of Warea), granted I'm also working of the slightly more limited goal of finishing "Sun of Suns" during the read-along.

Still enjoying the suspense of wondering where this fleet is heading, and the scenery just keeps getting weirder. Warea is probably my favorite environment yet. The implications of tunneling into a floating ball of water and building a town are tripping me out!


message 25: by Paul (new)

Paul (paul_sff) | 3 comments I made a really cringy first impressions video: https://youtu.be/yXfypB-Kooo

Hahah. The highlight so far: world building is fantastic and really has me intrigued.


message 26: by Mustardseeds (new)

Mustardseeds | 4 comments I just finished Sun of Suns. For a large part of the book, I didn't feel compelled to pick it back up once I put it down, although I enjoyed it. Once they left Slipstream that got a lot better. The world is absolutely fascinating and I'm looking forward to Queen of Candesce.


message 27: by Paul (new)

Paul (paul_sff) | 3 comments Thanks for getting me to try Sun of Suns Thomas and creating the read-along. I'll definitely try another Schroeder book in the future. I think the ideas and world building were fantastic, I just never connected to Hayden as a character and the plot didn't grip me. As Mustardseeds mentioned above, I was never really compelled to read it when I wasn't reading it.

I made a short review video for it: https://youtu.be/bHwaJkmVuOs

Thanks everyone. Hope everyone enjoys book 2.


message 28: by Adam (new)

Adam Brickley | 7 comments Loving Paul's videos on this. And I agree that the worldbuidling is really strong. I'm okay with the characters so far, but I'm personally not normally a reader of pirate/adventure stories - so the actual premise here is not my usual cup of tea and I don't have a ton of things to compare it to.


message 29: by Xeyra (new)

Xeyra I'm still to finish Sun of Suns -- it's been really slow reading for me lately -- but I agree that while the world building is fantastic (and the images posted above really help with the visualization of this strange artificial world), the execution of the story itself is a bit flawed in terms of characterization. I'm enjoying what I'm reading in terms of the world concept (really imaginative) but at the same time I hardly care about the characters. And there's a particular event in the book (the pirate attack) where Venera does something that is otherwise ignored by everyone after the attack is over, which is so strange to me.


message 30: by Adam (new)

Adam Brickley | 7 comments Well, as the resident slowpoke I've at least completed my goal of finishing Sun of Suns during the readalong. Definitely a really fun world tour that shows you a solid cross section of a fantastical place without breaking the narrative flow. I did really like the ending - nice big flurry of action to deliver on all the worldbuilding leading up to that point. also nice trick dispersing the characters at the end like that. Perfect set up for more books. Maybe I'm in the minority hear but for me the most compelling personal narrative was Aubri. She had the most inner tension and the most hidden motivations. I also really got to like Chaisson by thee end - he was a real proper swashbuckling captain. Oh and I have to give a shout-out to Grid the navigator with his old gem charts - loved that dude. Thanks for the adventure! And now that I've binged on Virga's immersive worldbuildong, I'm now going to go bathe myself in some Icelandic crime fiction to reacquaint myself with gritty twisted realism. Thanks for the ride!


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