House of Suns

I’ve recently finished the latest Alastair Reynolds book ‘House of Suns’. Reynolds is one of my favourite authors who can always be relied on to tell a good story and HOS is no exception.

In HOS, Humanity is a long surviving species watching civilisations rise and fall. When one of the Houses, the Gentian Line, is all but wiped out in an unexpected and a unprovoked attack, the survivors’ set about trying to find why

There’s a paranoid atmosphere to much of the book (since the attack could only have happened with the assistance of someone from within the Line) and that atmosphere is always ratcheted up a notch or two when the character of Hesperus is around since his real motivations are open to question throughout.

It’s perhaps a little less gory than other Reynolds novels although there is a fairly ingenious torture sequence whereby the victim is sliced apart, whilst still remaining conscious.

The book also features another intergalactic chase and has an open ended conclusion although thankfully the main plot is resolved by the end with the plot strands tied neatly together. But you sometimes wonder if Reynolds is creating pilots for other potential series of books with the likes of HOS and ‘Pushing Ice’ (which also featured a chase and an open ending!). If you like hard sci-fi and haven’t yet cottoned on to Reynolds, then HOS is as good a book as any to start with.

The main characters in the book are actually clones so here’s a track of the same name:

Ash – Clones (from ‘Meltdown’) [Buy it] [Download it]

Ash are one of these bands that I like but I’ve never been motivated sufficiently to see live. Their debut ‘1977’ was probably their career high point mixing punk-ish energy with wonderful pop tunes and when they tried to expand their range with second LP ‘Nu-clear Sounds ‘there was a huge commercial backlash.

LP3 ‘Free All Angels’ therefore saw them scurrying back to their punk/pop heartlands and for reverting to type they were substantially rewarded as the LP was very successful. However clearly they weren’t interested in repeating themselves for a third time so with 4th LP ‘Meltdown’ they ended up making a punk/pop/metal hybrid. Inevitably deviating from the public’s idea of what Ash was about led to another LP which quite quickly stacked up in the bargain bins to the extent that they appear now to have given up on making LPs entirely.

To be fair, ‘Meltdown’ had its moments when the band’s melodic talents showed through, ‘Starcrossed’ for one was a classic Ash ballad, but for the most part any melodies are lost under the metal barrage.

The next post is back to the music and I’ll do the first of a couple of retro posts on the first half of 2008 before another retro concert recording.