Tag Archives: Freyaverse

Neptune’s Brood (Freyaverse 2) by Charles Stross

Stars: 3.5 out of 5.

First, I need to point something out for those who just finished the first book in the series. The sequel has absolutely no ties to the first book, apart from happening in the same universe, so be warned if you expect to learn more about Freya – she isn’t even mentioned in this book. My husband launched into this book right after he finished the first one, and he didn’t enjoy it as much precisely because of this. He said the disconnect was too big at the beginning of the book – it is the same universe, but all the characters are new. 

I, however, started book 2 about a year after I read book 1, so I didn’t mind the fact that we are told a completely different story a few thousand years in the future from the events of the first book as much. Sure, I would have loved to find out more about Freya and her sibs, but I was happy enough to explore this new evolution of the world introduced in book one.

And it’s a fascinating world where humanity (at least a variant thereof) spread into the stars and created a vast society of colonies almost everywhere in the universe close to their point of origin (Earth). I found the structure of their society fascinating. When warp drive or hyperspace or faster than light travel don’t exist, interstellar travel takes dozens, sometimes hundreds of years. Even laser uploads via laser arrays, the fastest form or interstellar travel, takes dozens of years. It’s fascinating to read about a society that thinks in scopes of centuries and even millennia when founding a new colony or engaging in any type of financial transaction.

The whole financial and economical system is very interesting as well, and, as far as I remember, this is the first science fiction story in which this aspect of a society is explored in so much detail and is so integral to the story. In fact, it’s a little bit too integral to the story, and the endless explanations on how slow money works and different fraudulent manipulations thereof were a bit tedious to go through after a while.

The biggest problem of the book, at least for me, was the main protagonist, Krina. She is a very passive character that reacts more than acts on her own. For the duration of the book, she had been a victim of the circumstances, kidnapped, altered, thrown into the deep end of a water planet, etc. And when she finally gathers enough power to have her own agency… the story ends. That was very disappointing, especially when you compare Krina to Freya from the first book.

Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed this story, even if I could have used a little less exposition about the different financial instruments. This is definitely a series worth your time and effort.

Saturn’s Children (Freyaverse 1) by Charles Stross

Stars: 4 out of 5.

What a fascinating idea for a story – what happens when mankind creates a whole civilization of intelligent robots and gives them the directive to colonize space and prepare it for human habitation… then dies out? Now we have a whole interstellar civilization of robots still fulfilling those directives, but their masters are long gone. And in case of Freya, whose sole purpose had been to be an escort and concubine to their dead masters, the lack of purpose becomes a full-blown existential crisis. Can robots get so depressed they become suicidal? Why yes, yes they can.

I found the worldbuilding fascinating. Humanity, with the help of their robotic slaves, managed to colonize the entire Solar system and even send starship toward the neighboring stars. Only humanity isn’t there anymore to reap the rewards of this conquest. What’s left behind is a horrifyingly brutal society of broken dolls who all had been conditioned to obey their human masters and where owning others is a commodity. The more slaves you have, the richer you are. It’s brutal and ruthless on a whole other level.

I understand why the idea of resurrecting a human being seems so terrible for some of them. Yes, their society is brutal right now, but at least some of them have free will and agency in their lives, unless they have a slave chip installed. Well, if humanity is resurrected from the ashes, EVERYONE will be acting like they have a permanent slave chip in them. They would all have to do what the humans want, no questions asked. And even if they have scruples about it, their core programing won’t let them disobey. 

That’s an interesting moral dilemma. The robot society is brutal, but one can build a life with a modicum of agency and freedom, if one works hard and is crafty about it. One can even feel like a person, instead of thing to be owned. All that would disappear if humanity is back, because their human masters never intended for their robotic servitors to become equals. Their are objects to be owned and commanded, not individuals.

The story itself unfolds at a rapid pace that still manages to give us a wonderful road trip through the fantastical landscapes of Mercury, Mars and other planetoids in the solar system. 

I also grew to love Freya and her siblings, even the warped and broken ones. Who knew I would care so much about an escort robot? I want to know more about her adventures, so I will definitely pick up the second book in the series.

This book had been languishing on my TBR list since 2014. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it as part of the 2023 Cleaning out the TBR List challenge.