Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Saturns Children Saturns Children
by Charles Stross

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

Saturn’s Children is Charles Stross’s latest novel. As far as I can tell the story is unconnected to any of his previous works and does not represent the start of a new series.

In Saturn’s Children Mr Stross has discovered subtlety and uses it with effect. The story is an action thriller and a comedy. Humanity has died out and the robots don’t know why; all they know is that their minds were modelled on their creators (people) and they as robots live on acting as humans on one hand and interacting as robots on the other. And because people never saw their extinction coming, no steps were taken to free the robots from the legal and logic imperative controls that humans bequeathed the robots. Humanity made it to the planets (and died out); robots are making it to the stars.

In this book Mr Stross has written a satisfying thriller, with hidden agendas, secret agents and double-dealing, and an appealing comedy where the tone of the humour sits well with the thriller nature of the story. If his previous works have veered too heavily towards techno-babble and/or frenetic pacing, then here he has taken those criticisms to heart and struck a happy balance.

I hope Mr Stross returns to this storyline because I find it both amusing and subversive to consider a future where robots are simultaneously strenuously competing to revive humanity, and striving equally hard to prevent it to the point of having a Replication Suppression Agency – as all robots know they are subservient humans, and therein lies the plot.

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