House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds takes place in the far far future. It’s the first sci-fi book I have read where the future felt kind of Baroque. The way technology is described, that it’s decoration and function aren’t analogous, show us this is not the lo-fi tech aesthetics of Star Wars nor is it the sleek cold minimalist super-future of something like the aliens in Three Body Problem.
Reynolds traverses space and time in a dizzying way, it’s beautiful almost frightening. We open in a Ghormenghast like castle on the edge of a black hole but it kind of expands out from there in time, space, and reality.
At one point through the book I think a computer intelligence describes human intelligence in exactly the same way as the ghormenghastian palace is described at the beginning, it’s word for word and it is a sublime moment.
Abigail, whose clones are the focus of the story takes part in a game called Pallatial with a boy from another family in which they can become different characters within it. This is a kind of foreshadowing and mirroring of what happens to her clones later. Reynolds in fact throughout the book throws up many more of these moments the plot always offering many possibilities to any number of twists.
This is to say nothing of the more obvious plotline which like a great thriller keeps you guessing at the twists and turns till the end. 1
For my money Valmic/Hesperus is definitly the boy from Abigail’s childhood this makes it a touching love story at the end at precisely the start of a hopefull new chapter in humanities development. An amazing book. 📚★★★★★ ↩︎