Sun of SunsNovember 26, 2007
Sun of Suns: Book 1 of Virga
pub. Tor Science Fiction, 336 pp
One of the things I like about a certain type of speculative fiction, is world building. Certain authors have an uncanny ability to create from their imaginations new worlds that are so well thought out, plausible, and complete that I am left feeling as if the world if not does than certainly could exist. Frank Herbert did this perhaps better than anyone with Dune and its sequels. Of course Tolkein created a world so believable that it has formed the basis for countless other author’s work.
In Sun of Suns, Karl Schroeder has done a magnificent job of world creation, and what’s more, he does so in a world completely different from any I have ever read before. Imagine you are inside a planet sized balloon. There is air, but no gravity, and no planets or natural stars. There is water and matter in this world, but it is all just floating around. However, since the world is relatively old, there are conglomerations of these things throughout various regions of space.
People have populated this world and have used technology to overcome its shortcomings. Artificial fusion suns provide light and heat to limited areas – those beyond the reach of any sun are called ‘winter.’ Cities are built on the inside of great cylinders, and the wealthier have propulsion systems to spin the cities and create gravity. Travel between cities is done in steampunk space-sailing ships and the stronger cities have navies to protect themselves.
While the world itself is fascinating, Schroeder also pulls off a rip roaring Dumas-esque swashbuckling pirate adventure story as well. The main character, Hayden, is set on revenge for the death of his parents. However, through his skill as a pilot, he finds himself gang pressed into the service of the very admiral upon whom he has sworn revenge. Of course, their mission which includes a secret attach and the search for a great and powerful pirate treasure could ultimately save the entire region so his motives and alliances will be tested throughout. Throw in a sexy alien from outside their world on a mission of her own and off we go.
This was a very entertaining read, and I’m looking forward to the sequel, Queen of Candesce.