Neptune’s Brood

By Charles Stross

Rating: 4 stars

Set in the same universe as, but thousands of years after Saturn’s Children, this book sees historian of banking Krina download into a distant star system on an academic pilgrimage, only to find that she’s being stalked by someone who wants to kill her and the cousin that she’s here to see has disappeared. Chased across a solar system, she has to unravel a mystery that leads back to something lost millennia ago.

I must say that I struggled with some of the economics here, but there was enough action going on that I could cope with it. After a few pages of pontification on the nature of debt and kinds of money, Krina is kind enough to get kidnapped or something blows up to distract you. That’s not to say that it’s difficult or unreadable – some of the ideas are very interesting, and I like that Stross has obviously give a lot of thought to how an interstellar economy, without FTL, would work. The explanation of slow money made sense as I was reading it, but as soon as I tried to explain it to someone else, it just decohered in my head.

On the other hand, bat-pirates (sorry, privateers), a Church dedicated to looking after and spreading the Fragile (ie us old fashioned squishy humans, who died out before Saturn’s Children and which this book suggests have been revived multiple times in the intervening time), a mermaid kingdom and those aren’t even the most mental ideas in the book! Krina is a fun character, someone who would really be working on a spreadsheet but who gets caught up in huge adventures after rumours get out about what she and some of siblings have been working on for fun for decades.

So come for the intrigue and stay for the interstellar economics (and bat-pirates! Did I mention the bat-pirates?).

Book details

ISBN: 9780356501000
Publisher: Orbit
Year of publication: 2013

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