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Neptune's Brood av Charles Stross

Neptune's Brood (utgåvan 2013)

av Charles Stross

Serier: Saturn's Children (2)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
6593625,692 (3.79)29
After being stalked across the galaxy by an assassin, post-human Krina Alzon-114 journeys to the water-world Shin-Tethys in search of her sister.
Titel:Neptune's Brood
Författare:Charles Stross
Info:Orbit (2013), Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Samlingar:Current libraray


Neptune's Brood av Charles Stross


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This was my first encounter with Charles Stross. I really liked the blurb and as there was no indication that this book - although stand-alone! - was part of a series (see here), I decided to give it a try. And it was an interesting experience.

It's basically a heist or caper story (see Wikipedia), as Brad wrote (see here), revolving around financial schemes and dealings. Stross did make sure to make it more than just an exciting story with the pursuits and what not, by adding interesting pieces about the banking sector (about debt, about the different kinds of money - cash vs deposits, or fast vs slow money, for example) and how you can extrapolate this to today's situation.

As it says in the blurb, it's about Krina Alizond, a meta-human, who's on the search for her lost sister, Ana. About meta-human: there are no normal human beings any more in the future in which the story takes place. The digital age has advanced so drastically, there's no other way any more. It allows our characters to store their memories and other things onto chips. Like you would have a built-in hard disk drive (or SSD's, for that matter) or similar.

Haven't you ever wanted to erase some of your memories, especially the negative ones? Or thought about storing certain knowledge, so you could always access it and not having to go through enormous efforts to remember whatever you wanted to remember? Well, in Stross's story this is possible. Of course, as in today's world, this can be abused. If you can be tracked and traced via your computer, smartphone, etc., then you can also be "debugged", during which time the content of your chips will be read out, if you're caught (by the police, by criminals who have the necessary tools, ...). And you can lose the chips, as they can be taken out of their sockets. A related article can be found on Unbound Worlds; see here.

In addition, the chips contain your entire DNA-structure. So if your body is broken, you can be remade, personality and all included. Travelling is also "easier": you just upload yourself to a certain location. And then there's duplication, in case you can't attend a meeting, for example. Then you send a double.

But anyway, Krina and Ana are, in a way, siblings. Both were involved in a financial scheme around investments, insurance, ... Krina is a historian with regards to banking and money (not a banker or accountant), a central theme in this story. To travel fast & cheap, she manages to get a ride in a chapel, Church of the Fragile. And so the adventure begins. Oh, she's also stalked/pursued by someone who resembles her in appearance and behaviour.

All these characters, organisations, etc. are involved in the great financial scam that was set up a very long time ago. A scam involving colonisation, debt, creating wealth (for those involved, behind the operation, of course). Leader behind the pursuit of Krina and Ana, is their "mother" Sondra.

As everything takes place in interstellar space, you can't just travel (despite the advanced technology and spaceships) from one world to another; you have to respect the laws of nature. Each world also has its own settings, characteristics. Taj Beacon is not like the water-world of Shin-Tethys, for example, the last place where Ana was seen before she disappeared off the radar. Later in the story, it's shown how he cunningly disappeared off the radar.

While this is a fast-paced and exciting story, the information on money - especially in an interstellar setting -, debt, and physics (which makes it at times a little hard to digest, if this is not your kind of world; hence 3 instead of 4 stars), make it a worthwhile read.


p.s.: Stross mentioned stuff like van der Waals, the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram, the occasional French expression, Cartesian theater, and more.

p.p.s.: Although this is a stand-alone novel, there might arise an impression of missing some background info on the world, the new kind of humans, etc. But I don't think you should have read Saturn's Children (which is also a stand-alone novel). However, Stross has written a free missing link (Bit Rot) between the two books. It can be read on his website: see here. Maybe this will offer a bit more and helpful info with regards to Neptune's Brood. I'll try to read it asap. ( )
  TechThing | Jan 22, 2021 |
Honestly not great, but I liked the idea of slow money and interstellar ponzi schemes. And the execution of those themes was done quite creatively. It lost me at the end, and I also didn't really like it stylistically. 3/5 with quite some good will for Stross as an author. ( )
  102joa82 | Jan 1, 2021 |
(I received this audiobook through the Early Reviewers program on LibraryThing.)

This book is heavy on the worldbuilding more than the other conventional attributes of good storytelling, but I enjoyed its vision of the far distant future. There are pivotal scenes which take place largely offstage, large numbers of characters whom we take the effort to get to know who end up being abandoned long before the end, and crucial plot points which are simply stated in a non-dramatic fashion to the point where they seem like offhand remarks. Yet the characters which work do work quite well, in my opinion, and the otherworldly settings work well as convincingly strange, and even if the central plot conceit (inhabited space dominated by the forces of economics) ends up giving impression of being the author's pet hobby-horse, it just kind of works for me in a way.

By the end, I didn't know what the fate of the flying cathedral or the status of the undersea room stuffed with books actually was. Still, I'll remember the spacegoing piratical capitalist bats lead by Count Rudi, the pathologically self-absorbed Gravid Mother, and sweep of conspiracies thousands of years in the making for a while. Do I wish that Krina were more of an active agent in her own story instead of simply reacting to what happened to her? Yes, of course, but I am willing to give her a pass given the interesting way she describes what it was like to be given benthic mermaid form in an ocean hundreds of kilometers deep. The book is too long to make a goo film, yet I would be pleased to witness some of these spectacles if someone were to try.

The audiobook narrated by Emily Gray brought out the rather old-fashioned nature of the main character's viewpoint on things and lightened up what might have been a heavy infodump-prone read. I suspect that if I'd experienced this in written form instead of through this narration I would have given it only three stars, but that's the way this subjective matter of reviewing works. ( )
  rmagahiz | Jul 9, 2020 |
I'd say that if I had had the money to register for the Hugo Awards this year, I would have had a dead heat between this book and Ancillary Justice. Both books are impressive SF investigative thrillers, and both have gripping stories with interesting characters and equally interesting ideas. In the case of Neptune's Brood, the idea is basically building a Space Opera thriller around the old investigative axiom of "Follow the money," and it works incredibly well. It's got adventure, pirates, mermaids, zombies, and transhumanism, all wrapped up in one glorious adventure.

I'm almost glad that I didn't have the ability to vote for the Hugo Awards this year, as I wouldn't know which one to choose. ( )
  Count_Zero | Jul 7, 2020 |
It's not for everyone, but I personally love financial sci-fi stories. Mr. Stross blew my mind with Accelerando, but the merchant novels were quite good as well, and one should never forget Rule 34. In fact, I've been enjoying a lot of financial chicanery novels over the last decade and a half. Like I said, it's not for everyone, but it is for the type of person who loves a good heist novel with huge-scale grifters and con-men.

Make no mistake, it's a heist novel, but it happens to be populated by post-humanity robots in an interstellar empire with insurance agents who are pirates, where faster-than-light promises are the best confidence scams, and extinct humanity is gestated in church-owned vats and revered before they're sent to die upon colony worlds as the nominal passed-on wish of humanity's deep past. It was certainly amusing we're referred to as "The Fragile" because we break so damn easily.

Not only were the ideas interesting, but the tale was very humorous at a distance. In reflection, I'm likely to giggle about this one. During the reading, it was a strange mixture of mendicant scholastics, financial mechanics, dancing skeletons, mermaids, and deep, deepwater squids harvesting rich uranium salts from an ocean world. In other words a fantastic ride. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Charles Strossprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Corless, Laura K.Formgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Frangie, RitaOmslagsformgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Mauro, TonyOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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And what of the Grail, that mysterious object that all the knights-errant were ultimately seeking? Oddly enough, Richard Wagner, composer of the opera Parzifal, first suggested that the Grail was a symbol inspired by the new forms of finance. While earlier epic heroes sought after, and fought over, piles of real, concrete gold and silver—the Nibelung's hoard—these new ones, born of the new commercial economy, pursued purely abstract forms of value. No one, after all, knew precisely what the Grail was… Marc Shell even suggested that it would best be conceived as a blank check, the ultimate financial abstraction.

—David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years
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who's ever looked at the stars and thought,

I wonder if we could live there?
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After being stalked across the galaxy by an assassin, post-human Krina Alzon-114 journeys to the water-world Shin-Tethys in search of her sister.

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