Drops of Jupiter
I can’t decide whether I love or hate Charles Stross’ Saturn’s Children.
All right, that’s a bit OTT, as I definitely don’t hate it. I just can’t pin down my feelings on the matter, because on one hand it’s a fantastic double bird to space opera and any preconceived notions we may have about sex-bots, and at the same time Freya’s behavior is troublesome to me. Which I suppose is actually Stross’ point; this novel is, at least in my mind, intended to discomfit the hell out of the reader while being an incredibly fun spy novel–sort of Ludlum meets La Femme Nikita meets Asimov meets Blade Runner.
Just to catch you up, without spoilers: humans are extinct, despite their androids’ attempts to save them. They’ve left a whole stratified culture of robots behind, a load of serfs and a few aristocrats who bought their own freedom ages back, along with the occasional but rare middle-class freelancer, like our heroine Freya. Those androids are still subject to their programming even if they otherwise have free will (though slaves are chipped to keep them docile), and while sex-droids like Freya had empathy and intense emotion programmed in (for good and necessary reason), a lot of the aristos don’t have such qualms…
So it begs the question: what is free will? What is in humanity that almost demands subjugation for those to do our dirty work? What is love, really, if not devotion and obsession? And what kind of twisted human ethics wrought the nightmare that is Freya’s world?
At any rate, the long lost humans, the Creators, sure knew their mythology and literature all right (Rhea the mother, Freya the love goddess, a meddling Emma and a determined Juliette, Jeeves the butler…). And Stross gets points for realistic miserable space travel. Totally.
Also: I realize I reference Yonmei over at FeministSF far too much, but as a followup to my post two weeks ago on Orson Scott Card, here’s her damn good analysis of Card’s homophobic statements, past and present, and just what’s wrong with his logic.
And: John Scalzi lost the Hugo for Best Novel by nine votes. He’s not upset, but I can’t say I’m not.
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Tags: reading list, sci-fi means science fiction, sex and everything after