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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder (Virga #1)

Sun of Suns (Virga, #1)Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

 Jacket Blurb:  It is the distant future. The world known as Virga is a fullerene balloon three thousand kilometers in diameter, filled with air, water, and aimlessly floating chunks of rock. The humans who live in this vast environment must build their own fusion suns and "towns" that are in the shape of enormous wood and rope wheels that are spun for gravity.

Young, fit, bitter, and friendless, Hayden Griffin is a very dangerous man. He's come to the city of Rush in the nation of Slipstream with one thing in mind: to take murderous revenge for the deaths of his parents six years ago. His target is Admiral Chaison Fanning, head of the fleet of Slipstream, which conquered Hayden's nation of Aerie years ago. And the fact that Hayden's spent his adolescence living with pirates doesn't bode well for Fanning's chances . . .

Normally, by the time I finish a book I have an idea of what I want to say.  Or I've made a few notes along the way to help facilitate my final thoughts and opinions.  With Sun of Sun's I find I'm struggling with what to say, so I'm going to be a bit more methodical in my review. 

World setting - Virga is an absolutely fascinating setting.  A "planet" of air, with a central mechanical "sun" called Candence.  Smaller cities can build their own suns and live out in "winter", which are areas far enough away from Candence as to need their own light and power source.  There appears to be one entry and exit in and out of this self contained bubble that most people are unaware of.  People flit about via air bikes, feet fins, and larger motorized vessels.  Cities are strung together by rope and wood.  Water droplets can condense into balls the size of boulders and larger and pose a serious threat to the cities and other structures.  This whole thing is just cool.  A unique take on the steampunk genre.

My issues - There seems to be a significant amount of wood, and I was struggling to figure out how this much wood can be grown in this environment when water and air is governed by air currents.   And the air - how do they manage to keep the oxygen from being depleted?  Where does the moisture come from?  I can totally understand plants can be grown by hydroponics, but to be self sufficient when everything is just sort of floating around in this massive bubble took a leap of believability that I just couldn't manage.

The Hero - Hayden Griffon watched his mother and the rebels of the city Aerie prematurely light a sun and blow themselves up instead of being captured by the forces of Slipstream.  Hayden has nursed his grudge against Chaning for 8 (?) years and is now within reach of killing the man who killed his mother.

My issues - I couldn't empathize with our young hero.  He is a young, ignorant, backwater plebe who finds out the world is bigger than his grudge. 

The Plot - Our young Hero is swept up into a series of events from which he manages to miraculously escape against improbable odds.

My issues -  Our young Hero is swept up into a series of events from which he manages to miraculously escape against improbable odds and in the end, well, it was mostly predictable.

So there were aspects I liked - the world setting, a touch of steampunk, pirates (oh yes! pirates!) and space battles that felt like a scene out of Master and Commander.  And aspects I didn't - the main character and his motivations. 

Recommended with reservations.

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