Everything came and went, everything was new and bright with promise once and old and worn out later, and everything left a small, diminishing stain on eternity, a mark that time would eventually erase.
House of Suns is what really great sci-fi tries to be: it takes some fascinating ideas (generally technological), sprinkles in interesting characters (although some authors seem to find that optional), and goes from there.
In House of Suns, we have the story of a small subset of humanity writ large. The speed of light is the ultimate limit. Planets are decades apart; the galaxy hundreds of thousands of years around. So how do you continue that oh so human drive for exploration and expansion?
Well in House of Suns, you create a thousand clones. Imprint them all with your memories. And send them out into the universe. Set it up so that ever few decades/centuries/millenia, they meet up, share all they’ve been to. What other branches of humanity have risen–or fallen? What other miracles of technology have been discovered? Who’s fallen in love?
It’s a great idea and oh the scope. You have time dilation from traveling near the speed of light. The ability to slow time within a small region to millions of times. Lifetimes spanning millions of years.
And one big mystery, to top it all off.
Andromeda is missing.
Someone seems to have a vendetta against one particular Line of clones.
Lies within lies. Secret societies within secret societies.
Oh, it’s a good book. Bit hefty. Ends with a closure–but a heaping helping of now what?. Give it a read (I listened to the audiobook; it’s well narrated).
All data is stale. The photons reaching your eyes are stale. They tell you that you are looking at something real, but you have no information that the objects before you still exist. They may have vanished into oblivion the instant those photons took wing.