Saturn's Children

Saturn's Children

by Charles Stross

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Overview

Sometime in the twenty-third century, humanity went extinct, leaving only androids behind to fulfill humanity’s dreams. And, having learned well from their long-dead masters, they’ve established a hierarchical society—one with humanoid aristo rulers at the top and slave-chipped workers at the bottom, performing the lowly tasks all androids were originally created to do.               

Designed as a concubine for a species that hasn’t existed for two hundred years, femmebot Freya Nakamichi-47—one of the last of her kind still functioning—accepts a job from a stranger to deliver a package from mercury to Mars. Unfortunately, she’s just made herself a moving target for some very powerful, very determined humanoids desperate to retrieve the package’s contents…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780441017317
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/30/2009
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 632,414
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Charles Stross was born in Leeds, England in 1964. He holds degrees in pharmacy and computer science, and has worked in a variety of jobs including pharmacist, technical author, software engineer, and freelance journalist. He is now a full-time writer.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Good fun... Heinlein himself would've liked this."
-SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE

"Sex oozes from every page of this erotic futuristic thriller."
-PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"One of the most stylishly imaginative robot tales ever penned."
-BOOKLIST

"A smart and playful romp."
-TIMES (LONDON)

Customer Reviews

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Saturn's Children 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A smart, funny, and yes sometimes deep story with an entirely engaging main charachter. If Freya is an answer to Heinlein's Friday, all I have to say to Stross is 'Bravo, Sir!'. I'll save you the mini book report and just lest you know that the premise is a meaty one and handled very well by an accomplished writer with a firm grap of the Sci-Fi genre. Also a good interplanetary techno-thriller to boot. I'd not read this author before and sometimes felt that everthing good in Sci-Fi has already been written and that I had read it along with too much dreck. So pleased to have found a " new" author. Oh, yea. Freya Friday.... I get it now! Sometimes I can be so dense!
harstan More than 1 year ago
By the twenty-third century humanity was extinct leaving behind androids that were built to feel and think and even dream like mankind once did. The androids created a caste system. The Aristos are nobles who own slaves expected to obey them or else. There are also some free independent droids who are mostly impoverished manual laborers. --- Freya Nakamichi was made to be a sexbot, but thanks to her sibs is free. The mysterious Jeeves offers Freya a well paying job as a courier she accepts. Her first assignment is to go to Mercury to pick up a biological sample that she is to place in her uterus and bring it to a lab on Mars. The task seems simple and straightforward although she has no idea what the sample is and why suddenly people seem to be hunting her for her ¿package¿. She eludes killers, thieves and an assortment of other predators as she races to Mars. --- Imagine a world in which androids are the dominant species and act like humans in all respects except they cannot reproduce. Thus SATURN¿S CHILDREN is about a culture the androids have forged centered on a caste system although the slaves and the free strive for a better life. Freya is a bot Lara Craft, a strong willed skilled beauty who uses brain and some brawn to think her way out of danger. Charles Stross answers the Philip K. Dick philosophical question Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? with this original look at a mirror humanoid culture. --- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good job
Marie Kolenski More than 1 year ago
It was a good book, but it would hav been better if she was human, or cared about real love. Other than that it was a bloody good read.
AlanPoulter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in a future when humanity is extinct, intelligent robots carry on the task of spreading civilisation, having colonised the solar system and sent ships to nearby stars. These are not soulless Asimovian robots as their minds are copies of archetypal personalities, created by conditioning using human experiences (some extremely unpleasant). This conditioning also inculcates basic emotions and needs: for example, robots can enjoy a drink or two (though not of alcohol) and can experience the pleasures of sex when they 'link up'.For control purposes, humans made serving them the deepest desire of a robot. Now humans are gone, 'aristo' robots use this servitude capacity to enslave other robots. Their greatest fear is of 'pink goo' - animal cells of any kind that could, in theory, be used to rebuild one of the lost human 'Creators'. A human, could, simply by their presence, control any and all robots using their inbuilt servitude routines.The novel follows Freya, one of a defunct concubine archetype, cloned from the original called Rhea, who gets involved in something illegal that involves smuggling pink goo. Freya is given the 'soul chip' (memories) of another of her archetype, Juliette, and starts to be influenced by Juliette's experiences. The abilities to swap soul chips (and thus identities) and to blank parts of soul ships complicates the plot no end. The action takes on Venus, then Mercury, Mars, Callisto and finally 'Heinleingrad', on distant Eris, as aristo factions like the Black Talon, and robot archetypes, especially one modelled on the Jeeves character, struggle over the ultimate prize...Ironies abound. Humans, as their creators, are like gods to robots. Robot society is as venal and despotic as that of their creators. In their restless journeying (space travel for robots is uncomfortable and slow but usually not fatal) they are driven by the expansionist dreams of their creators, as robots have no purpose of their own. Despite decades of AI research, 'intelligent' robots are still as much a figment of the imagination as warp drive. While on the surface this novel is a romp built from retreaded components from earlier writers, underneath it raises issues about self-hood, freedom and the purpose of life, none of which robots really have.
TomVeal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Saturn's Children, a 2009 Hugo Award nominee, sports an intriguing premise: Mankind has quietly gone extinct, along with all but vestiges of other organic life, leaving behind a civilization of robots that perpetuates many of its creators' foibles and follies. This post-humanity has spread to the far edges of the Solar System and begun sending settlements to the stars. At the same time, it is rife with conflict, oppression and violence.The novel's plot slowly reveals a conspiracy to recreate the human masters, a step that some robots nostalgically favor, some dread and others see as an opportunity to seize supreme power. Thrust into the middle of these intrigues is Freya, a humble "sexbot", whose profession was rendered obsolete by the demise of its clientele before she could even entertain her first john. She and her siblings now cling to the margins of society. At the opening of the book, she is contemplating suicide, the fate of a number of her sisters. Then she inadvertently offends a powerful "aristo" and discovers that she while she may want to die, it's no fun to be murdered.As one reads the story, it is imaginative and gripping. Charles Stross has left far behind the clumsiness and earnest preaching of his first couple of novels. He is also less frenetic than in much of his short fiction. There are bursts of fast action, but everything and everybody aren't moving at three-quarters of the speed of light all of the time.So far, so good. Only one characteristic Strossian flaw remains: an indifference toward whether the flashy, fascinating parts fit into a coherent whole. It's a bit odd that robots would be as obsessed by sex as these are. There's sort of an explanation: Human brains were the template for robotic; apparently, the sex drive got carried over. What isn't explained is why, given that practically every robot we meet has the libido of a drunken sailor on shore leave, Freya Nakamichi-47can't live in the manner of a grande horizontale in 19th Century Paris. The only visible reason is that she then would not find herself contemplating plunging from a sky city to the surface of Venus, and there would be no novel.Other elements in the setting are less believable, though I think many P. G. Wodehouse fans will be pleased that the author shares their secret suspicions about how Jeeves spent his off-page free time.
sdobie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Freya Nakamichi-47 is an android designed as a sexual companion for humans, but in the twenty-third century, humans are extinct, and Freya and her sister models have to find other ways to make a living in the all-robot society that spans the solar system. Freya offends a member of the robot aristocracy, and takes a job smuggling restricted biological materials in order to get off of Venus. This starts her on a tour of the solar system as she is drawn into deeper levels of espionage among the robot ruling class.I enjoyed the novel, but it seems like a fairly minor work by Stross without the complexity and depth of ideas of some of his other novels. It is written as a tribute to the later Heinlein novels, which means there is a lot of non-explicit, somewhat silly sex, but without the pontificating of the Heinlein books. I enjoyed a lot of the ideas such as the structure of the robot society and how it cam about, and its fear of biological life as "pink goo" replicators. The depiction of the tedium of space travel is something that does not usually show up in science fiction. The story does get somewhat confusing though, and beyond the interesting concepts there is not much else in this novel that left a lasting impression on me.
slothman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stross brings us an entertaining homage to Robert Heinlein's later work with a robotic heroine, Freya, designed as a love slave for the now-extinct human species. While the tale is a classic space opera adventure, Stross takes the challenge of adhering to "Mundane SF" guidelines: all the technology is a reasonable extrapolation from the present day. Interplanetary travel is extremely slow and annoying, even for robots who can survive situations that would kill a human, fusion power is big and expensive, and even artificial intelligence relies on mimicking human brain architecture rather than any breakthroughs in computer science.Freya is caught up in intrigue in a society run by robots who wound up in charge of a society where the rules were crafted by humans who kept robots as slaves; even the most emancipated robots are just owned by a corporation that they control themselves, and are vulnerable to legal attack. Without humans to fix the problem, the system remains static-- but if someone were to re-create a human from the leftover DNA and raise them as they chose, they would be able to rule the entire solar system by proxy. There are indications of a conspiracy to do just that. Freya cherishes her freedom... but designed to yearn for a human to fall in love with.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you've been reading Charles Stross you'll notice that many of the usual tendencies are in operation in this story. The put-upon female protagonist; check. The plot based on a covert scam; check. Much musing on the post-human future; check.This time around we have a world without humans (having stupidly offed ourselves) and our artificial creations have picked up right where we left off with our arrogance and, dare I say it, our inhumanity. As those lines of servants (can you say 'house slaves'?) who were closest to humanity in our last days have managed to insert themselves at the top of the social food chain over 90% of the AI population. Mankind having failed to do their creations the favor of collective manumission before shuffling off this mortal coil.Thus we find our heroine Freya (a sex worker in a world without human clients) early on the run from what looks like a chance encounter with an overbearing "aristo." She thus falls into a world of private covert operations, where the great prize is the recreation of biological life forms, and where the dominant species is the red herring.It's in this scenario that Stross makes heavy use of one of my less-favorite tropisms; that of the downloaded personality. However, I find it deployed in a more efficient fashion then in "Accelerando" or "Glasshouse," as the characters in this novel are very dependent on the knowledge gleaned from their parallel selves, and there are no guarantees that even their other selves are trustworthy. In a middle section that is rather roundabout, this keeps the suspense up until the countdown to the big bang at the climax (ahem) and onto a satisfactory conclusion.As to Stross' observation that this is his homage to late-period Heinlein, this is certainly the case, down to our heroine who goes on and on and on in a chatty verging on blathering fashion. There's a good reason for this in the end but there are points in the novel where the data dumps are very long, even for Stross. On the other hand, just because Stross respects Heinlein, it doesn't mean that he isn't above satirizing the prophet (there's a shock), and there's much in this book that is absurdly funny, and could have been played up with even more absurdity had Stross chosen to do so. Never say that the man doesn't respect his characters, even when he puts them through the wringer.
timothyl33 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While the premise seemed interesting enough, Saturn's Children suffers from a multitude of issues. One problems is that the story overall feels like a generic sequence of events that is supposedly strung together by this macguffin mystery that's surrounding the protagonist. In addition, the plot doesn't really come into fruition until about the last 10 percent of the book. So in cases like this where the plot is almost absent, the weight of the story needs to be supported by the protagonist itself. Considering that this book is about the dilemmas of a fembot who's primary function became obsolete once humanity became extinct, there's really little to distinguish between her and a human, personality-wise. Sadly, there are moments within this book that do shine, but most of them are concepts regarding interplanetary travel, which are few and far between.
Beemac on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disappointing, comes across as a replaying of 18th century England using robots.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a fun romp through a post-human space populated with androids. Its fun, its witty, its deep, but not angsty or dark.Here we get Rhea, an android created for sex. Only, her model became defunct after humans died out, so Rhea has to find a way of existing without relying on her primary purpose. As the story unfolds, secrets and plots are revealed, with Rhea an unwitting key player.I liked the book. Characters were well rounded, the universe is well written. Rhea is a sex-bot, and it can be written a bit heavy handed, until I fully understood that she cannot help who she is. The one thing that is damned annoying, why the Cover?! It was drawn as if to attract every adolescence boy out there, the sort of book that you don't want your mom knowing you read.Outside of that, a good book to read.
NickCato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having not been a big reader of science fiction since my teenage years, I was recently dragged back in due to three newer authors: Robert Buettner, Jeff Somers, and Charles Stross. The last 3 novels I read by Stross (THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES, THE JENNIFER MORGUE, and HALTING STATE) made me a big fan, so when his latest release was announced I jumped on it.SATURN'S CHILDREN takes place in the 23rd century, where humans are extinct but their creations live on: super-advanced robots of all shapes, sizes, and emotions. Freya is a female robot who was designed to be a sex slave. She longs to leave Venus, and is given the opportunity by someone who wants her to deliver a package for him. He funds Freya's trip, and it's not long before she finds out the package she's carrying may lead to the re-creation of an extinct human . . . and of course all kinds of intergalactic goons are looking for it, too.While Stross' premise is fine scifi fare, and there's some really inventive robotic sex scenes (!), SATURN'S CHILDREN is bogged down with way too much technical explanation of space travel, at times reading like a never-ending college text book. At 323 tedious pages (the small typeset not helping matters), It took me 2 months to get through this (I needed to take breaks from the tiny-font) and in the end I'm convinced SATURN'S CHILDREN would've worked better as a 100-paged novella."Living Starships" and sexy robots aside, if this is what's considered "hard scifi," then I hope Stross goes back to the soft stuff.
m1k3y on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Saturn's Children marks Stross's serious progression as a writer.He's doing far more advanced tricks with plot and exposition than in his previous novels.The way he drops in the back story, such that when the lead is called a "robot" you installing know it's like using the N-word.Oh, yeah - what's this book about? It's a different kind of post-human novel; mainly because humanity has died off. But before they did so (and potentially _because_ they did so) they created a race of intelligent robots to help them colonise the solar-system.Robots created to serve man, and left floundering when their masters are gone, but unable to stop the course they were on.As Stross says: "when the last human died, human civilisation barely stopped from lunch".There are robots of every shape, size and variety. And the way they 'connect' is hilarious! Some very interesting depictions of space docking.It's a rollicking tale, but I kept pausing to admire Stross's prose style.All I want now is a sequel!
Traction_Bob More than 1 year ago
A beautiful world of interesting characters and science fiction in the old, hard-science manner. It hearkens back to Heinlein.
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