Book #28: Saturn's Children

I may be wrong, but based the other novels by Charles Stross I've read, Saturn's Children feels like a bit of a departure. A fluid mix of Isaac Asimov's Robot stories with a very large homage to Robert Heinlein (particularly Friday), it's a sexy robot adventure spanning multiple planets and the fate of the universe in its pages.

The basic premise: In a universe where that hasn't been a single human being in over two hundred years, Freya Nakamichi-47 is a sex robot, woefully contemplating suicide - what to do when the single thing you've been programmed for is no longer an option? On the run due to a bad dust-up with the ruling class of robots on Venus, she's is forced to act as courier for a mysterious object from Mercury to Mars. What this mysterious object is, who's after it, and what Freya must become in the course of events propels Saturn's Children forward in a mechanized BARBARELLA style.

Of course, it's Charles Stross, so what on the surface is a romp where spaceships have sex with each other, evil midgets abound and the heroine is a obsolete sex droid, there are larger social issues at stake, and Stross gleefully dives into each and every one. Slavery, race, class hierarchy, and purpose are all examined as Freya is forced to accept new identities, experience the thoughts and dreams of her "sibs" memory chips, and questions her overall existence since she was unboxed after humanity already had died out.

For some reason I always take a longtime to read anything by Charles Stross, it was a bit surprising that something as seemingly "light-hearted" as Saturn's Children didn't fly by like a breeze. But as a tip of the hat to Heinlein and Asimov (the book even opens with Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics), it's a solid, entertaining book, and one not to miss.
------------------------------- One quick note concerning covers. The above picture is from the US edition, and feels like it took a 18 year old virgin 30 minutes to design. I'm all for alluring and sexy on my covers (please note my sexy Friday cover), but this just reeks of "the cheap". Below is the much more pleasing UK cover, which is much more accurate of one of the ships in the novel. Now if they had another ship riding that ship enthusiastically, screaming "Cowboy!" it would be even better.

Just sayin'...