House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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 up to a certain date in her early adulthood for the purposes of colonizing space... and while she isn't the only one to have done this, she's certainly our MC 6 million years down the line, with all the little pieces of herself meeting every once in a while to share their wildly divergent pieces and sometimes throw a planetary-wide funeral (and I mean, literally, a projection the size of a whole planet to memorialize the dead,) or sometimes mess around with ringworld swarms or machine-intelligence genocide or causality loop breaking wormhole jaunts to Andromeda Galaxy, rather than just stomping around in the Milky-Way at sub-light speeds, which is rather the norm.
I did mention that this is post-humanity with the ability to copy and send out their minds, edit and delete huge swaths of memory, go into stasis or wildly different time-frame-references, either speeding up or slowing WAY down to make the sheer immensity of either time or space reasonable to a human, didn't I?
It's very fascinating, and the ideas hardly end there. In fact, Reynolds's vision of the deep future is both fascinating and full of actual story, too! We really don't deal with alien intelligences much unless you talk about the machine divergences from ourselves, but as in the other connected Space-Operas of his, there's always something bigger and greater on the sidelines just waiting for the smaller fish to swim by, and this is no different.
What about the First Machines from long before humanity? What about the Solar Dams that can reasonably halt a supernova indefinitely but still managed to break and wipe out a whole alien species? Who's at fault here? We've got mystery, deaths among the near-immortals, and huge questions regarding the sanctity of really, really long-term memory devices, and of course, the whole novel is charged with betrayal. But who's? The Shatterlings are, after all, based on relatively few people, and just who is at fault when they're all one?
Well, obviously, experience can change everyone, and after 6 million years, it's actually kind of funny that these people are still so fundamentally relatable to readers like us. :)
A lot of energy and ideas were thrown into this novel, and it's definitely worth reading if you're at all into really "serious" Space-Opera works of the deep future. :) In general, probably the best part is the fact that everything is basically based on real science and possibility, and yet it still manages to go wwwwaaaaaaayyyy out there in scope. :) That's my favorite part, anyway. :)
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