Tuesday, August 25, 2009

House of Suns review; District 9 thoughts

For just about a decade, Alastair Reynolds has been publishing some of the best Science Fiction in the genre. His stories are galactic in scope, but still manage to key down to the human level. His latest, House of Suns is no different. The story spans millions of years and is to put succinctly, awesome. My review went up last night and here’s the requisite snippet:

The ancestors of humanity, specifically the clones or ‘shatterlings’ (of both sex) of Abigal Gentian, known throughout the universe as both the Gential Line and the House of Flowers are set to meet in one of their 200,000-year reunions when the reunion is sent asunder by a hostile attack. Luckily, two of the clones (Campion and Purslane) who have fallen in love were delayed and are among the very slim number of shatterlings of the Gential line not destroyed. In their delay, they contact a somewhat disreputable broker named Ateshga, who they hope can sell them a ship upgrade in order to arrive at the reunion party with plenty of time to spare in the 1,000 day celebration. This of course does not go according to plan since Atheshga tries to sabatoge Campion and Purslane. However, the two shatterlings turn the tables and get their ship upgraded and secure the freedom of Hesperus, a robot and member of the ‘Machine People.’
The sheer scale of intelligent civilization in this universe is mind-boggling. Perhaps most fascinating are the Machine People and the Machines who preceded them thousands of years before the events in even Abigail Gentian’s time. On the other hand, that sense of time, that tens of thousands of years can pass so effortlessly in these characters lives really adds to the sense of wonder for which Reynolds is so well known. These themes are handled with an expert’s care in Reynolds’s assured storytelling ability.

Mrs. o’ Stuff and I caught District 9 on Friday and we both thought it was easily the best film we’d seen this summer. I might go into more detail in a post later this week, but suffice it to say, this film does everything Good Science Fiction should do – it was at turns frightening, plausible, and awe-inspiring. Very few movies exceed my expectations as much as this one did, and I went it expecting it to be good – it was GREAT.

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