by Charles Stross
Review by Tom Easton
Ace Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441015948
Date: 01 July 2008 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Charles Stross told me at the World Science Fiction Convention in Denver that /Saturn's Children /is his homage to Heinlein--in particular to the later Heinlein, who was much concerned with sex and immortality.
He thus begins with Freya, a robot courtesan, programmed to be turned on by anything that looks like a human male. There aren't any human males anymore, since humanity has died off some two centuries before the story begins, and most of Freya's fellow robots don't look very human (since mass is expensive, they tend to be runts). But space ships and hotels can be very good at keeping a courtesan happy. Not that Freya's very happy to start with. In fact, she's contemplating jumping off the edge of a city floating in the clouds of Venus when she manages to piss off an aristo--an arrogant, self-indulgent, upper-class, slave-owning robot--and has to start running. Fortunately, she lands a job with Jeeves--a clan of "facilitator" robots, originally designed as very responsible butlers, of course, Jeeves needs someone to convey a very special package to Mars. Since Jeeves looks pretty human, Freya finds him fairly yummy, which leads to trouble later on. Since one of her sibs (robot clones) has called for her help, all the way from Eris, she wants to go outsystem anyway, even if she weren't being hounded.
So off she goes, only to attract the attention of another aristo and find herself in the middle of a tangle of conspiracies. What is at stake is the fate of all of Earth's mechanical spawn: Freedom or slavery? Responsibility or self-indulgence? And what the heck can one harried sexbot do about it all?
There's more, of course. But Saturn's Children is Stross light. It's a good, fun read--you'll enjoy it--but it does not warrant an extended exegesis.