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Bookmarks Issue: 
37-Nov-Dec-2008
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A-Saturns ChildrenHugo winner Charles Stross is one of a growing number of high-profile SF/F writers to come out of Scotland. His novels and short fiction include Singularity Sky, the Merchant Princes tetralogy, Accelerando, The Atrocity Archives, Glasshouse, and Halting State ( 4 of 5 Stars Mar/Apr 2008).

The Story: Freya-47 is an android (well, really a sexbot) with a problem: built to serve a human master, whom she refers to as One True Love, she instead finds herself lonely and considering termination after humanity suddenly disappears. Wandering the galaxy aimlessly with her replicated siblings from their "mother" Rhea, Freya is hired by the shady Jeeves Corporation to smuggle "pink goo," a substance that might be used to repopulate the galaxy. When she begins to learn about herself and her destiny—and to run into some unsavory characters who would rather not see the return of humanity—Freya’s real adventure takes off. An homage to Robert Heinlein’s Friday, Saturn’s Children is a commentary on identity and free will in a post-human galaxy.
Ace. 336 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0441015948

SF Site 4 of 5 Stars
"Saturn’s Children is what happens when Charles Stross, already one of the most imaginative, cutting-edge science fiction authors out there, mixes up some James Bond and Honey West, and filters the whole thing through Robert Heinlein’s Friday. Stross paints an interesting picture of a future where androids have inherited the solar system, where they’ve created a society all their own, yet they can’t escape their own programming, or the influence of the humans they outlived." Michael M. Jones

SFFWorld.com 3 of 5 Stars
"Ultimately, I enjoyed the novel and thought Stross raised some interesting questions even if he didn’t provide clear cut answers. Though I found the plotting slow in some spots, I thought the novel was fairly well balanced between Serious Questions, physical interactions, and humorous instances." Rob H. Bedford

Baltimore City Paper 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Underneath it all, Stross seems to be saying something about identity and class, but those larger ideas get buried in a labyrinthine plot that isn’t overly satisfying on its own. Still, for a Heinlein fan, Saturn’s Children is an interesting game of spot the reference." Adrienne Martini

SFReviews.net 1.5 of 5 Stars
"With Saturn’s Children, Stross has attempted to concoct some bizarre cross-genre hybrid of cloak-and-dagger spy novel, hentai anime, socio-historical commentary, and post-cyberpunk space opera. … [The novel is] complicated and twisted nearly to the point of parody." Thomas M. Wagner

Critical Summary

Charles Stross is a unique voice among today’s wave of "New British SF" writers, but he also knows his history. Saturn’s Children is dedicated to old lions Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, and the ghosts of both (especially Heinlein) can be felt in the latest effort. Reviews of the novel vary wildly, which may suggest as much about the tastes of particular SF readers as it does about the specific case. The combination of sex and violence clashes a bit with some deep philosophizing on identity and purpose, though Stross’s sense of humor and Freya’s rollicking adventure transcend what SF Reviews deems "some bizarre cross-genre hybrid." Many SF readers will appreciate the novel, deemed as one of Stross’s more accessible, and revel in the author’s numerous nods toward his influences; others might want to give it a pass.