Novel Milieu Review: Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross #robot #scifi #spaceOpera

This book is a hard-scifi if albeit raunchy space opera milieu of a post-human future in our solar system as envisioned by Charles Stross.

Host-bodies Review

The robots introduced in this book are created through making a synthesis between Eukaryotic cells and nanotechnology.  The component cells are larger than eukaryotes however are also able to be more easily programmed, and are more adaptive to a larger variety of scenarios.  For instance in this book the protagonist Freya can freely survive hard-vacuum, near boiling temperatures on a mercury dawn-train city.  Well below freezing temperatures on Callisto, and with some modifications the high-radiation levels of laying ontop of a nuclear reactor for a few weeks.

However they do have limitations, for instance Freya when left on the rising sun train-track on Mercury she was doubtful of her prospects if she was to be sliced in half lengthwise by the train wheels. While there were hints that a population lived in the cold parts of Mercury, there were no mention of personas living in the hot parts of it. Also it was mentioned that she did take quite a bit of damage from the proximity with the fission reactor, and would have died had she not gotten the proper modifications before her trip.

Another unique feature of these particular host-bodies is they contained something called a soul chip, which seems to have been modeled on a high-density SD-card, which stored peoples memories.

In general the host-bodies had a very high longevity, upwards of a hundred years, with no age-related decline.  They also stand up very well to surgery, and other forms of modification.

Not much food was mentioned in this book, however in the sequel Neptune’s Brood it becomes clear that they eat much the same food-stuff as humans,  just in larger quantities when they are healing or otherwise need it.

One of the prime weaknesses of the species is they are completely subservient to humans, though no humans exist,  so some of the robot models feel lost. Part of the conflict is that some wish to recreate humans under their control, so they could control other parts of the society.  Additionally there is a “slave chip” which allows to turn any host-body into a complicit slave by sliding it into one of the soul-chip spots.

Society Review

The  society as Freya described it was dominated by dwarves, because they had cheaper flight tickets.  Otherwise it had many of the indications of a recently deceased human civilization. For instance the various people/robots were still considered property, and could only own themselves by setting up corporations earth side.  They may also be prone to being bought up and enslaved if they got into debt, or on the wrong side of someones lawyers.

The families extended based on the model of robot they were.  For instance Freyas lineage was comprised of human-like sexbots.  The “mother” was the first instance, which was “raised” in a semi-normal fashion, with a progression of several ever larger host-bodies until she became an adult.  Once maturing her memories or soul-chip was copied over to the “children” or clones in the same model line.

There is also an almost solar-system wide organics police, which destroys any kind of organic matter it can find, to avoid contaminating the Earth, which itself is sterile due to runaway global warming boiling away the oceans.

Economy Review

The economy of this society is somewhat unclear, but seems to mostly revolve around maintaining the bases and other things which the human progenitors had initially designated as priorities.

There is also a black-market of organics, which bases itself on Eris, though funding for this project is unclear.  Implicitly it is crowd-funded by organics sympathizers who wish to recreate homo-sapiens.


The book is 336-384 pages depending on edition, approximately 140 thousand words or 12 horus of reading, can support us by buying  through this link:
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