The Saga of Seven Suns: A Forest of Stars

A Forest of StarsA Forest of Stars
(The Saga of Seven Suns Book 2)
by: Kevin J. Anderson

(Science Fiction/Space Opera)

496 pages [Hardcover]

The conflict with the Hydrogues escalates as humanity struggles with dwindling fuel, political challenges, and inscrutable aliens.

Oops! I completely forgot to review this one!  That’s what I get for reading too many books at once and just letting the reviews pile up. But don’t worry, I have a system now that should make sure no more books slip through the cracks. Now, I’m not sure I remember enough details to write a decent review, so I guess I’ll write an indecent review? Wait, no, that’s not how that word works…

I think I’ll be sticking with this series long term. I’ve mentioned often how much I love a deep history in a story and this series has that. Perhaps what I’m really saying is that I like depth in a story and epic histories provide that quite easily. I’m really loving the mystery of the Klikiss robots, and the mysteries within the Saga of Seven Suns.

Things escalate in this volume, as would be expected. With the Hydrogues vigorously defending their gas giants, humanity is facing a dramatic fuel shortage, causing some to go outside the law to get their hands on what they need. There’s a lot of destruction as the Hydrogues get more aggressive, but humanity doesn’t seem to be their true target. We’re just in the way. I was pleasantly surprised by some interesting new powers who enter the conflict that have the potential to be pretty awesome.

If you’re a hardcore science person this might not be the series for you. Personally, I don’t think that a story set in space is required to be researched so extensively that the author might as well have a PhD in engineering and astrophysics. It’s not a bad thing for a book to be that well researched, but being the layman I am, I enjoy a story just fine with a little less research.

As for the pace of the story and its characters, it was not always attention-grabbing. There was a time when I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this series because of that. However, I have learned, in my more recent book-obsessed years, that a slower paced and more detailed story can still be worth reading, even if I’m not over-the-top excited about reading it. I may not have been completely absorbed for every minute of it, but I enjoyed it overall. This is why I now read a few books at a time. When I have a slower, longer book to read, I make sure to have something more immediately gratifying in the mix too. It keeps the energy flowing and prevents me from getting bored.

In spite of a couple of flaws, I enjoyed this book and am curious enough about the plot to keep reading. Also, I would like to hug a world tree. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Hyperion

HyperionHyperion  by: Dan Simmons

(Science Fiction/Space Opera)

482 pages [Paperback]

Seven pilgrims set out on a journey to the Time Tombs, each with their own mysterious reasons for risking death by the creature that is thought to inhabit them.

In some ways, this book reminds me of James Gunn’s Transcendental. Both books follow a group of strangers on a pilgrimage to a mysterious place, with each character telling his or her personal story. There is plenty of mystery and curiosity in both, with a touch of danger.

As a result of that structure, however, there are going to be some parts of the story that are more interesting than others, depending on the preferences of the reader. In this case, the Priest, Poet, and Scholar’s stories were the most captivating to me. Others were a little less interesting, and one, in particular, takes a bizarre and surprisingly disturbing turn. Regardless, each character’s tale reveals more about the universe Hyperion inhabits and its technology, politics, and mysteries.

This book is a little difficult to describe since each character’s story is so different. Overall it is a little bit dark and a little bit crazy, but definitely interesting. There is a cynical view of what humanity had become that bled into each tale. The Shrike and the Time Tombs are wonderfully sinister and enigmatic. The different planets, with their own special characteristics, were always fun to read about. From a world-building standpoint, this book is awesome. There is always so much to learn about, without it being overwhelming.

In the end, I liked it a lot, and I’m interested to see where the next three books lead. The story had its ups and downs, and I’d be lying if I said I was completely invested in every page, but there is something really cool here. If you like space opera I’d definitely recommend it. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

House of Suns

House of SunsHouse of Suns

By: Alastair Reynolds

www.alastairreynolds.com

(Science Fiction/Space Opera)

There’s nothing like a good science fiction novel to cleanse the palette after reading too much fantasy. In continuing my quest to read the books that already reside upon my bookshelf, I chose this one from my meager science fiction collection. (I’ll be hunting down more scifi books at the next book sale.) House of Suns was a good choice.

Come to think of it, I haven’t read an awful lot of science fiction over the years. Perhaps after watching so many sci-fi TV shows and movies, I never felt the need to read it too. I’ll have to do something about that.

The scope of House of Suns, and the sheer vastness of space and time that it occupies has to be my favorite thing about the story. I’ve always been a fan of world building, and often it’s the details that make it good. Just the names of things alone; The Vigillence, The Priors, The Absence, Shatterlings…were enough to grab my attention. The premise of one person cloning themselves into a thousand Shatterlings in order to traverse and explore the galaxy, documenting everything they witness, is an interesting concept. I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical about it at first but it definitely worked.

There was a sense of mystery throughout the novel, which kept me reading, since it seems to me that a lot of science fiction that deals with a time so far in the future has a way of feeling like everything has already been figured out with nothing left to puzzle over. If I’m not curious about a book, I’m going to have a hard time finishing it and this sense of mystery kept me coming back to it even if I started to drift. The flashbacks to Abigail Gentian’s past and her interactions with Palatial, really enhanced the story. Her time growing up in the Golden Hour, in a house of mirrors, and the time she spent in a virtual reality fantasy world really added an extra depth to the story, and I always looked forward to those parts. I would have been happy to read an entire novel just about that phase of her life.

Being written by an astrophysicist, the science in this book could have easily been incomprehensible to the average reader, and while I may not have understood every minute detail perfectly, I never felt truly baffled by it. It had a good balance of story and science without either one interfering with the other. The last hundred pages really picked up the pace, as things began to fall into place in unexpected ways, and ended with a thoughtful conclusion that I really liked. Thankfully, Alastair Reynolds has written several other science fiction books which have already been added to my reading list. Until next time…

Happy Reading!