Saturn’s Children

A woman with purple hair, a collar written Freya and a sexy outfit holding a purple glowing ball

Rewriting some books as an homage is as old as literature itself, yet the exercise is rarely as good as the original. Saturn’s Children by is dedicated to both and , the book feels like Stross decided to rewrite Friday by incorporating the core idea of Asimov’s robotic laws. Stross has the skills, Chilren of Saturn is that book, faster, stronger, better.

Saturn is the god of the day after Friday, and the characters of the book are all children of humanity: robots. Humans have died out, and their robotic slaves continues to reach for the stars, following the human’s orders, slaves to the only surviving persons: corporations. The main character, Freya Nakamichi 7 is the most useless robot of that age, bearing the name of a nordic love goddess, she is a sex robot.

Saturn’s Children

Penguin Books
ISBN : 978-0-441-01731-7

After ruffling feathers with the wrong people, Freya starts working as a courier, transporting illegal goods within her body, while in the background various organisations plot to recreate a bona-fide human. While the main character echoes Heinlein’s Friday, the universe felt closer to Michael Swanwick‘s Vacuum Flowers, space stations and wetware chips, the background conspiracy is a mirror of the last Foundation Books, when the human search for the lost robots. The book also has its share of anime references: one of ruling robot type is the .

Saturn’s Children is certainly an homage, but it is an extremely good one, I could not drop the book and read in within two days, the story is griping and interesting. Stross makes, as usual, interesting observations: what would happen if our society would run on auto-pilot, what would be the impact on humanity of having access to robotic slaves, how would robots modelled after humans think?

In short a must read for any classic science-fiction reader, but also for people who never liked classic science fiction because it was to arid, too technical. In fact a must read for everybody…

2 thoughts on “Saturn’s Children”

  1. Saturns Children got me hooked on Charles Stross in the first place (after a recommendation by Tim Bray). Stross just released another book in that universe – Neptuns Brood. I’m halfway through it. It isn’t as gripping as SC, but has some really interesting ideas on the financial systems in a civilisation that is decoupled by light years.

    If you haven’t yet read more Stross – do yourself a favour and go and get his other books: The Laundry universe is a great mixture of Horror and Humor, Merchant Princess has just been newly published in the form the author intended (parallel world travelling with some interesting side effects), the Singularity books are great, and the near future ones (Rule 34, Halting state) as well.

    If you still haven’t enough of him, Stross blogs at

  2. Thanks for the reference! I had seen Neptune’s brood but I had missed that one.

    I agree that Stross is one of the more interesting SF writers today. His Singularity Book To End All Singularity Books, namely The Rapture of the Nerds (written with Cory Doctorow) is also excellent.

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