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House of Suns

House of Suns

Scritto da Alastair Reynolds

Narrato da John Lee


House of Suns

Scritto da Alastair Reynolds

Narrato da John Lee

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (98 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
18 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Sep 14, 2009
ISBN:
9781400179626
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

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 200,000 years to exchange news and memories of their travels with their siblings.



Not only are Campion and Purslane late for their thirty-second reunion but they have also brought along an amnesiac golden robot for a guest. But the wayward shatterlings get more than the scolding they expect: they face the discovery that someone has a very serious grudge against the Gentian line, and there is a very real possibility of traitors in their midst. The surviving shatterlings have to dodge exotic weapons while they regroup to try to solve the mystery of who is persecuting them and why-before their ancient line is wiped out of existence forever.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Sep 14, 2009
ISBN:
9781400179626
Formato:
Audiolibro

Informazioni sull'autore

Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St. Andrews Universities and has a PhD in astronomy. He stopped working as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency to become a full-time writer. Reynolds is a bestselling author and has been awarded the British Science Fiction award, along with being shortlisted for the Hugo Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award, and the Locus Award.


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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (3/5)
    In the far future humans have colonized a visible part of the galaxy; they have split into numerous sub-species and observe the non-human species and civilisations that rise and fall in waves. That kind of observation requires taking the long view of many millions of years, and that is exactly what the Lines can do. The Lines are near-immortal post-human clones of a single forebear, called “shatterlings”, and they travel around the Galaxy in cycles lasting hundreds of thousands of years; at the end they meet up and compare notes, and then they are off again. One such line, the Gentians, are the shatterlings of Abigail Gentian, who produced one thousand clones about six million years ago; when this book start about eight hundred are still in existence. Without spoilers, I can say that House of Suns deals with proper Space Opera stuff: extremely advanced self-repairing ships, galaxy-wide chases, Deep Time, highly advanced AI, potential galaxy-wide warfare, and a now-lost species of Priors who left behind incomprehensibly advanced tech. And all travel is kept sub-luminar, which adds to the charm. All that is great. Unfortunately, this book also felt pretty YA to me: some things were too facile, especially the relationship between Purslane and Campion, the parts set in Palatial, and some decisions made about the ending, which felt too much like a cop-out. Entertaining, but not my best read by Reynolds.
  • (4/5)
    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 'Oooh look - a tyrannosaur!' and 'watch out for that heard of brontosaurs!'. We stood there, utterly non-plussed. That’s “House of Suns” for you.I'll be 99 in the future (If I don’t die first), and can't really say I have much in the way of false memories. Either I remember the details quite clearly, or I don't remember them at all. There are about 1,200 to 1,500 pictures that my family took from the time I was born til I was 18, or about 3 rolls of film a year. Before I was about 5 years old, I only remember a handful of them being taken. (One of these was were I was trying to grab the lens and my mom took the picture right then). Other things like my grandparents house that I wasn't in since I was 8 years old, and almost no pictures of, I could draw an exact floor-plan of the place. But on the flip side, my memories have mostly faded, and other than a couple memories a year from all the time in school are all that is left. I live a life where nothing really sticks out and every day is pretty much the same as the last. I think memories get rather compressed together and with some triggers, could probably pull them out, but trying to think about them without pictures or tangible things to hold on to (Like my CD collection; even though most of them came to me from 1990 to 1995, I could probably tell you where I got most of them, a general order of when I got them, and if I got them new, used, or mail order) - Wow...like this one CD I bought in Valentim de Carvalho in Lisbon, on sale for about 4 or 6 Escudos (our currency before the Euro came along) back in April or May 1990 or whatnot. But I couldn't tell you about most things I got 5 years ago....or when I even got them. Much of "memory" is superimposed upon events that everyone involved in the "memory" remembers it differently. It can be highly unreliable, particularly as a factor in legal situations where people have been executed the largely on the grounds of it. The most dangerous is the person who maintains they have an infallible memory. I clearly, distinctly, and in detail remember seeing, when it first came out, "Dr. Strangelove" in colour. A number of years later I was told it was a black and white movie. I did not believe it. Even after researching the movie and having to admit I was wrong, some corner of my mind still believes I saw that movie in colour. The best way to put it is that memory can be vague and is often elastic. It is easily distorted by a preferred versions of events and that is even without the person recalling events acting in-authentically. If emotional influences can be eliminated, the elastic version will return to its truest form, but even then it is far from infallible. That is a bit like learning how a car works by removing bits. It reminds me of the school pupil who was in a nature class. They were studying a spider and discovered that when they shouted at it, the spider ran away. So they reported this to the teacher. Some little time later the teacher went to the pupil and asked what they had now learned. The pupil replied "When you remove a spider's legs, it goes deaf"."House of Suns" brims with ideas, and this is both a strength and a weakness. It left me wanting—needing—more, another volume just so we could continue meditating on so many of these ideas. I loved the not-reliable-memory aspect of it, the AIs' solution to the causality problem, as well as Palatial, which got really spooky with Abigail's poor playmate. My favourite parts were the book’s sections with Abigail Gentian. The exploration of her initial "shattering" and how it relates to our sense of who we are as individuals struck a chord for me. The last chapter is still totally cliched: "’Brutus, we Must get out of this frigging boat’ race against time!’", undermined my enjoyment of this post-human novel. I like Reynolds' stories best when the human tech is at its wondrous peak, so “House of Suns” was a great read for me. The stories "Diamond Dogs" and “Turquoise Days” are my favourite (his two collections “Galactic North” and “Beyond the Aquila Rift” are worth checking out; both of them are above the usual crappy SF fodder we see bandied about nowadays). “House of Suns” along with “Redemption Ark” and “Slow Bullets” are his best novels so far.
  • (5/5)
    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, savouring each word.Alastair Reynolds' prose is just as wonderful as the world(s) he's created. I'm gushing, I know, but I can't help myself. I'm in love with this book.I didn't know anything about the plot when I started reading, and I'm glad I didn't read any reviews, because I feel like it's best experienced blind. Just dive into the galaxy and trust Reynolds to tell a compelling and captivating story.The characters are all amazing and somehow Reynolds wove a love story into this tale that made me weep.I recommend House of Suns to all sci-fi fans, especially those of you who love space opera. I wish I could give a sixth star!
  • (5/5)
    One of Reynolds’s best. I haven’t ready any other books that operate on such a long timescale. Interesting and surprising throughout.
  • (5/5)
    A glorious sweeping story, written in a way that rivals some the great SF novelists of the past.
  • (5/5)
    I have grown to really like Alistair Reynolds sci-fi. He takes you places, far-out places and his ideas are fabulous, as are the characters and plots of the tale.
  • (4/5)
    I never during 40 years, read an author that took me along through all his books like a worm hole. From Tolkien, GRR martin, asimov, to Religion, and pubmed...

    I enjoy this book, exciting pure pleasure and horror it's been a way of getting free for a moment from life's toil.
  • (5/5)


    This may be Reynolds’ most masterful realizations of his sweeping vision of far distant future humanity roaming the galaxy, nearly immortal yet all too human.

    Reynolds produces intensely creative and genuinely original scenarios: inventive and innovative.

    His canvases are vast, depicting a humanity shattered into competing technologically modified factions. Reynolds offers space opera, subtle characters, fresh scenarios and a mature voice.

    Narrator for these audiobooks has a pleasant manner handling a range of characters with deft sophistication.
  • (3/5)
    On thing that really confused me about this book was the changing perspective in every chapter. It was quite confusing until I got used to the two protagonists. At some chapter (in the beginning) I found myself wondering from whose perspective is the current chapter and there was no tells until I got to places where the person will interact with the other protagonist. A bit frustrating.
  • (5/5)
    It's been a long while since I was so totally caught up in a story. This book has it all -- space drama, machine intelligence, murder, love -- in a time span that boggles my imagination.The Gentian Line is a family of 1000 clones of a woman named Abigail Gentian. Actually that's a mistake as there were only 999 clones and Abigail inserted herself to make the 1000th person. Each clone took a space craft and explored the Milky Way galaxy. Every two hundred thousand years they reunite to share stories and become reacquainted. The clones normally travel alone but two of them, Campion and Purslane, are lovers and travel together although in separate ships. They know they are going to be late for the thirty-second reunion and, since they will arrive together, they know everyone is going to figure out their close relationship. They could be censured for this but would rather that than part. Along their travels this time they have picked up a few guests. One is a being that has to stay in a cabinet that provides all of his needs (Dr. Meninx) and another is a robot who suffers from amnesia (Hesperus) and others are rescued prisoners. When Campion and Purslane finally get to the reunion world they find out that almost all of their fellow Gentians have been killed. A few have managed to get to safety but no-one knows who did this or why.The bulk of the book is devoted to unravelling that mystery and there's far to much to be able to summarize it. You'll just have to read it for yourself. I promise you it will be worth it.
  • (5/5)
    I found this a bit difficult to read but loved the story. The challenge in reading was the details of the world - needed but heavy going. The story and the characters were haunting.
  • (5/5)
    Still holds up on my second read. I really love this book and hope Reynolds will come back to the universe he wove together here sometime later in his career and add more to it.
  • (4/5)
    Reynolds simply works for me. His stories are exactly what I expect from science-fiction. He sets the bar for large-scale, galaxy-spanning, events. House of Suns is a nice blend of mystery, action, and surprises. I'm hopeful he'll write more involving robotic sentience. I also like that he stepped away from his Revelation Space environment. While it's enjoyable to see how he's fleshing out that world, it's nice to read something that doesn't come with previous baggage.
  • (3/5)
    Drama over millions of years and millions of miles. For awhile, I thought it might be a romeo and juliet, but not so. There were several trajectories and each did not seem to come together. It was a long listen and the narrator carried a thick Brit accent and I began to wonder about the missing "R": "dark" sounded like "dock." The book finally ended and I don't think I'd listen to another if this is a series.
  • (3/5)
    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. Thus begins the life of Abigail Gentian, who later makes 1000 male and female clones of herself who set off to explore the universe. Six million years later, much of it spent in stasis or cryo chambers while travelling the galaxy, two of her clones, Purslane and Campion, female and male clones now in love, against the rules, are running over 50 years behind en route to their 200,000 year line reunion. While on their way they receive an encoded message informing them that almost all or their line has been decimated by an unprecedented attack. Thus begins their quest to save some of their fellow clones and determine just who is behind this attack and why. As the mystery unfolds it is much more complex and interwoven with their pasts than they had imagined.

    This is a great book for the science fiction fan who is fine with humans morphing into rather unbelievable forms, such as centaurs on one planet, immortal beings who live forever floating together in space in astronomically large suits where it can take them years to make a decision because their nerves are so vast it takes so long for signals to pass from their brains to their bodies, where there is machine sentience, where humans can clone themselves into two different sexes, etc.

    At the beginning of each section we read about Abigail’s story when she was one person, and the rest of the story is told from two first person view points, Purslane’s and Campion’s.

    I got this book because I loved the first sentence, which is quoted above. I liked the first chapter a great deal, but the book went downhill to only a three stars level of liking very quickly for me for several reasons. One is that despite the vast amount of time involved, some of this science fiction defies all logic (I haven’t described it all). For example, there are certain biological limitations that cannot be overcome by cloning. I didn’t care much for either Purslane or Campion and that was not solely because I have difficulty with the incestuous nature of their relationship, but more that I didn’t find either of them likable enough. I did like Hesperus a great deal. Hesperus is a machine person rescued on their way to the failed reunion who is gravely injured during their attempts to rescue any surviving clones of their Gentian line. In fact, one of the reasons I continued reading was to find out what happened to him. The other was that the writing was good enough that I really wanted to stay with it to see how the mystery was resolved. I did stay up late two nights in a row to finish, but not more than an hour or so after my bedtime.
  • (4/5)
    Very much a Reynolds novel, with (on the one hand) indistinct characterization and (on the other) lines like “I watched Hesperus streak forward and then slam past Mezereon’s position, missing her by barely half a million kilometres.” Come for the steely-hard sci-fi, stay for the worldbuilding.
  • (3/5)
    'House of Suns' starts off quite slowly, rather appropriately, as we are introduced to Campion and Purslane, shatterlings of Line Gentian, one of a group of humans who had been around for six million years and had accrued a wide range of powerful technologies that they used to trade with less technological societies. House Gentian prides itself on its ethics, not being flash about its actions in the wider galaxy but a dark secret is awoken when they gather for their latest quarter million meeting. Campion and Purslane manage to be late and all they find is evidence of an attack on the thousand shatterlings making up the Line. Regrouping they find just over 50 of those clones had survived. Each chapter is told from the perspective of Campion and Purslane in turn and its sometimes difficult to keep track of whose eyes we're looking through. In addition, we are treated to the early years of the founder of their Line six million years before the current period. Given the pacing of the story, it was almost over before we get to a point where the House of Flowers begins to get a handle on what's going on but things pick up quite satisfactorily from then on. Part of the trouble is that this is a sub-light universe, where all ships and travellers depend on time dilation to survive the journeys round the galaxy.
  • (5/5)
    'They made it for war,' the little boy told me as we stepped out of the green portal, back into the playroom. 'You know that, don't you?''They made what for war?'The game . . . Palatial.' He still had something of Count Mordax about him - there was a haughty disregard in his voice, above and beyond his usual predilection for teasing. 'It was for soldiers, the same ones your family helped to clone. They went inside Palatial and got memories of being in the war, even though they'd only just been grown. By the time they went into battle, they had as much experience and knowledge as if they'd been fighting for years.'The story of the downfall of the Gentian Line and what happened next, is told by two shatterlings of the line, Campion and Purslane. Each chapter is split into three sections, with the other section narrated by Abigail Gentian, the originator of the Gentian Line, whose family had made its fortune in providing cloned soldiers in wartime. Having grown up in an asteroid-covering version of the Winchester Mystery House, with her development delayed, so that her childhood was extended by thirty years, Abigail eventually decided to created 1000 male and female clones of herself and send them out to explore the galaxy. Six million years later the remaining shatterlings are still crisscrossing the galaxy, and the Lines have become one of the major power structures of the galaxy.The story of the boy Abigail played Palatial with, was a bit of a red herring. To start with I though that Abigail having forgotten his name, was to do with the secret of the House of Suns, and maybe he was the founder of that line. Later in the book, when it became clear that the boy had never recovered from the mental breakdown caused by Palatial malfunctioning, I thought that maybe the boy had moved on from playing Count Mordax to playing the original Ghost Soldier, and had either been unable to switch characters again after the Ghost Soldier's soul had been magically replicated in thousands of identical Ghost Soldiers, or that his final breakdown had come when the magician destroyed the Ghost Soldiers. But now I think that Abigail's memories of feeling incredible guilt over destroying the Ghost Soldiers, were actually the only way that the shatterlings' repressed memories could seep out, so it represented their guilt and not Abigail's guilt for something that after all only happened in a game. In some ways I liked this more than the Revelation Space books, as the main characters did not do such stupid things so I didn't find them as annoying. Although this is currently a stand-alone novel, I would certainly read another book about the Gentian Line, or one of the other Lines, if Alastair Reynolds were to write one. However, Campion and Purslane's sections were narrated in very similar style, so it was never clear to begin with which of them was telling that part of the story, but that's probably because they were clones, rather than being due to bad writing.
  • (5/5)
     House of Suns is a stand-alone novel, and deals with grand themes in the true hard science fiction tradition. Cloning, AI/machine intelligence, and galaxy-spanning action make this a space opera truly worthy of that title. Oh, and Lazarus Long could learn a bit about longevity from the principle characters! The structure of the book has a framing device at the outset of each section, with the main chapters being offered from alternating viewpoints. The section-opening story elements are quite good, but I think they are probably why the book just failed to make the top score in my assessment. The main body whips you along speedily from set-piece to set-piece, each of which is entirely satisfying. The cloning/longevity tie-in paints a picture of the far future which is quite novel, and I particularly liked the back-story around the genesis of the 'Spirit of the Air'. In general the quality of the writing easily met the standards I have come to expect from Alastair Reynolds. Can't thing of a reason why I wouldn't thoroughly recommend this to anyone, other than my general moan that books are produced in a large format nowadays that makes them particularly clumsy to handle: bring back the old-size paperback!
  • (3/5)
    Some people say that you learn something from every book you read. If that's true, "House of Suns" taught me that hard science fiction might not be my cup of tea. As others have noted, Reynolds does a good job of demonstrating the very enormity of both space and time. His characters, who are often millions of years old, often place themselves in stasis for centuries at a time while their ships carry them across the unfathomable distances that separate the stars while civilizations rise and fall around them with depressing regularity. They can essentially speed up and slow down time as they see fit, but also face the problem of trying to maintain coherent personalities while they sort through millions of years of communal memories. This is an interesting idea, and literature has touched on it before: we might consider Reynolds's characters to be hypertrophic versions of Clarissa Dalloway, who only had to organize six or so decades of experience during the course of a single afternoon. Still, Reynolds only skims the surface of this material without really exploring how this might affect human consciousness. It doesn't help that his own writing isn't any more than serviceable, and that his pacing is somewhat inconsistent: he seems to skip ahead during sequences that might bore some readers and the book's last few scenes seem rushed. "House of Suns" isn't a short book, but I think it'd take a few volumes to properly flesh out all of the ideas that Reynolds has introduced here. Reynolds doesn't seem to have the time, even if his characters might. Another thing that bothered me about "House of Suns" was its universe's riotous abundance. Literature, like most of human life, is usually defined by its limitations, and one of those necessary limitations is material: there just isn't enough stuff for everyone, and it's unlikely to last forever. Jane Austen wouldn't have had a career if it was otherwise. In "House of Suns," though, the galaxy seems to have been completely colonized by a set of technologically advanced first-world civilizations, and most people can order up just about whatever they want from the nearest "maker," which organizes matter into anything you might need, be it a cool glass of white wine or a laser gun. This unbelievable prosperity seem to rob this narrative of much of its meaning, though. In a world where both death and poverty have been roundly defeated, how could anything that happened be taken particularly seriously? In short, the formless ennui that threatens some of ennui that threatens some of this novel's characters began to threaten me. I've seen some reviewers say that it was nice to read a contemporary science fiction tome that didn't assume that our future is necessarily dystopic, but I feel that "House of Suns" moves the goalposts – or redesigns the playing field – a bit too much. "House of Suns" isn't completely without its admirable qualities, though. The author skilfully weaves in a storyline concerning the founder of a "line" of clones playing a medieval-themed virtual reality-style game into the book's central plot, and the book is briskly paced and fun to read, with space battles and galaxy-wide conspiratorial intrigue to spare. Its treatment of science is, as far as I can tell, relatively realistic, and Reynolds introduces a fine selection of post-human or quasi-human intelligences, interesting and beautiful alternatives to the sort of consciousness we're familiar with. Still, I suspect that I'll leave this one for the genre's real fans and beam back to literary fiction. I'm gonna leave the interstellar adventures to somebody else.
  • (4/5)
    Refreshing to read a futuristic book that is not a Dystopia, and the scope of this one is huge, spanning millions of years. There were some minor weaknesses for me in the plotting, but overall I really enjoyed it, though the ending seemed a tad abrupt. The Kindle edition had some formatting issues, the most annoying being that the section breaks within chapters did not show any break, instead the first paragraph of the break had no indention, often making it appear to be part of the preceding paragraph.
  • (4/5)
    Really enjoyed House of Suns by Alistair Reynolds. He is one of my favorite Sci-fi authors right now.
  • (4/5)
    A book that makes you think of a future you never thought possible and gives you the urge to seek every new horizon.
  • (2/5)
    Oh wow, the ending sucked. I don't know what he thought he was doing. Is this supposed to be the start of a new series? Some neat ideas in this book, but not up to his usual standards.
  • (5/5)
    (Reviewed March 6, 2009)Okay so this is pretty much the best book I have ever read. I knew there was a reason Reynolds is my favourite author, and this just confirms it. There is a slight lull toward the middle, but this is merely so he can set into motion the lumbering, devastating plot that eventuates. I'm sure it will improve on subsequent readings. Fucking brilliant.
  • (3/5)
    I am a bit surprised to see all the glowing reviews by fans of Alastair's, as I thought it wasnt one of his better efforts, not by a long shot. It seemed rushed to me.I admit his output has been staggering, with substantial novels at least once per year. And hey, man's gotta eat, I'm sure.With that said, sure, the story and concepts were interesting but it wasn't hard sci fi. There wasn't alot of serious contemplation of how much of the stuff in it could be accomplished. Often it felt more like fantasy.For example, Spirit of the Air was utterly fantastical. Not alot of thought given or explanation provided for what tech he used and how he evolved, really.Same of the space battles and such. Usually, the space battles / missions go on for a while, with detailed descriptions of the physics and geometry. In this case, I can't say I even had a clear picture of what everything looked like.Anyways, I, for one, was disappointed.
  • (5/5)
    Absolutely amazing. This is now my favorite Reynolds book.House of Suns is a standalone book, and doesn't need to be read with any other of Reynolds' work. It is an epic in every sense of the word, and it's all done in less than 500 pages.It is the story about several "lines" of family throughout history, but mainly just about one. As you read, more details are unfolded about the origins of the lines. It's hard to even describe what this story is about in a broad way without writing pages and pages of details and giving away some of the mystery of the story.If you like science fiction and "space opera," good writing, excellent stories about people and individuals, you will love this book.
  • (5/5)
    Amazing! My first introduction into Alistair Reynolds, and after this I read revelation space 1,2 and 3. Truly great read, full of spaceships, immortality, robots - you name it. 5/5
  • (4/5)

    In the early fourth millennium, humanity largely lives within the light-hour surrounding our own Sun, and a few wealthy tycoons take up galactic tourism: they clone themselves a thousand times (often with genetic variations, including gender), decanting their personality into each clone, and set out in a thousand ships to travel the galaxy at near-lightspeed, with plans to meet up later. As civilizations rise and fall across the galaxy, these “shatterlings” (with the assistance of technologies for suspended animation, life extension, and time dilation) see six million years pass, trading information and expertise to the worlds they visit.

    The book has two parallel stories: a shorter one following the youth of Abigail Gentian, who grows up to spawn the thousand shatterlings called Gentian Line (or the House of Flowers, since all of them are named after flowers), and a larger one following the intertwined lives of two of her shatterlings, Campion and Purslane, who have broken the rules of their Line, fallen in love, and taken up traveling together. They arrive late at a scheduled reunion of the Line, fearing censure by their fellows, and discover that someone has attempted to wipe out the entire clan. Their challenge is to figure out who did it, and why— and to survive.

    Reynolds does a good job of keeping the suspense high even as the action stretches over the decades and centuries of interstellar travel. The tale includes some reflections on recent events, including the fear of the Other and the erosion of morality in times of stress. The feel is very much in the New Space Opera style of his other works, but is not as dark as the tales in his Revelation Space universe.

  • (5/5)
    Six million years before the main story starts, Abigail Gentian, like other humans of the period known as the Golden Hour, duplicated her clone thousands of times and sent the 'shatterlings' out into the galaxy, at sublight speed, but preserved in slow time/stasis, to explore. One thread of the book relates Abigail's early life, as she gets involved in a fantasy game called Palatial, against an opponent of her own age, who plays her 'Dark Lord' foe. The other thread, the main story, follows Purslane and Campion, two of Abigail's shatterlings, as they barter for knowledge and try to offload a difficult passenger, an aquatic being known as Dr Mennix, on their way to a re-union of the Gentian shatterlings, known collectively as the 'House of Flowers'. Chapter viewpoints alternate between the two clones, who are only identifiable when they name the other clone. After an encounter with a rogue spaceship trader, Ashtega, they rescue a Machine Person (an intelligent robot), Hesperus, who has unusual memory gaps. We learn that there is a Void where the Andromeda galaxy should be, that an earlier super-race called the Priors disppeared after strewing the galaxy with incredible devices and that the Vigilance, a massive Dyson sphere inhabited by giant mutated humans who collect information, are interested by the deposit of a memory 'trove', that Campion traded with them.The story wastes no time in kicking into high gear, as the two threads slowly combine into a complex web of crime and betrayal, based around the shadowy 'House of Suns'. The sense of of wonder never goes away, as yet more new technological wonders are unleashed, especially in the final denouement. In complete contrast, it seems as though the only thing that has not changed in six million years are people, as the adventures of Purslane and Campion are understandable in our terms. Amidst the mayhem, they are in love and have sex. While the people in it are somewhat ordinary thisnovel succeeds spectacularly in being extra-ordinary in science-fictional terms.