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Saturn's Children    by Charles Stross order for
Saturn's Children
by Charles Stross
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

Charles Stross, author of a number of books including Halting State and Glasshouse, boldly goes where no author has really gone before with an entire book about robots and no humans. He presents a universe in the distant future where humanity has over-industrialized itself to extinction. All that remains is a considerable population of robots who performed and continue to perform a variety of services. There are those that do jobs without question - whether it be transportation, manufacturing, or some other day-to-day job required to continue the functioning of this civilization. Then there are those robots whose jobs have become obsolete.

Freya Nakamichi-47 is a femmebot, which is exactly what you think it is. She is the last of her kind still functioning, able to perform duties for an extinct species, unsure what to do with herself in the twenty-third century. Meanwhile the civilization of robots continue fulfilling the hopes and dreams of humanity in exploring space, mining asteroids, and building extravagant cities on distant planets. Having learned from homo sapiens' mistakes, the robot civilization exists in a hierarchical society with humanoid aristo rulers at the top, governing and controlling, while slave-chipped workers perform the menial tasks at the very bottom. Freya doesn't feel like she fits anywhere in this robotic society, but when she accidentally angers the wrong robots, Freya must go on the run for survival.

Saturn's Children presents a different world and a fascinating look into a possible future. The narrative, while engaging, creates little interest in these robots who continue performing the tasks of an extinct humanity with no drive or goal for their own continued existence. It leaves the reader questioning at times why they should keep reading. And yet, there is a compelling chase at the heart of the story that keeps one interested enough to finish.

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