Six million years ago, at the dawn of the human starfaring era, Abigail Gentian split herself into a thousand clones and launched them into the galaxy, to gather more memories and wisdom than one single human being could ever accumulate in a universe bound by Einstein’s laws. Periodically the... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Six million years ago, at the dawn of the human starfaring era, Abigail Gentian split herself into a thousand clones and launched them into the galaxy, to gather more memories and wisdom than one single human being could ever accumulate in a universe bound by Einstein’s laws. Periodically the shatterlings of Gentian Line meet for a grand bacchanalian reunion, where, over the course of a thousand heady nights, they exchange memories.
Two wayward shatterlings, Campion and Pursiane, are about to be decades late for Gentian Line’s thirty-second reunion. Even worse, they have fallen in love; the only thing standing between them and possible excommunication from the Line is the golden robot Hesperus, one of the Machine People, the other great meta-civilisation occupying the Milky Way. But Hesperus is an amnesiac, and all he can recall is a vague sense that he was on a mission of desperate importance before his memory was wiped.
The lovers are hoping that providing a prestigious guest will mitigate their punishment - until an unexpected distress signal makes censure by their fellow clones the least of their worries. After six million years of stability someone has decided it is time to end Gentian Line.
‘To see something marvellous with your own eyes - that’s wonderful enough. But when two of you see it, two of you together, holding hands, holding each other close, knowing that you’ll both have that memory for the rest of your lives, but that each of you will only ever hold an incomplete half of it, and that it won’t ever really exist as a whole until you’re together, talking or thinking about that moment ... that’s worth more than one plus one. It’s worth four, or eight, or some number so large we can’t even imagine it. I think I’d rather die than lose those memories.’Highlighted by 20 Kindle customers
Everything came and went, everything was new and bright with promise once and old and worn out later, and everything left a small, diminishing stain on eternity, a mark that time would eventually erase.Highlighted by 16 Kindle customers
‘All data is stale. The photons reaching your eyes are stale. They tell you that you are looking at something real, but you have no information that the objects before you still exist. They may have vanished into oblivion the instant those photons took wing.’Highlighted by 15 Kindle customers
drunk on the very idea of being human, a monkey who had hit the big time.Highlighted by 14 Kindle customers
not all questions had answers. Societies had reduced themselves to radioactive dust because they could not accept that single unpalatable truth.Highlighted by 9 Kindle customers
Provided it stayed within the Zone, a ship could circumnavigate the galaxy in two hundred kilo-years and still have time to stop off at a hundred systems en route. That was a circuit, the two-hundred-kilo-year interval between Gentian reunions.Highlighted by 7 Kindle customers
‘We’re flexible,’ Campion said. ‘It’s the price we pay for being sentient.Highlighted by 6 Kindle customers
‘The House of Suns was the secret Line tasked to keep this knowledge buried. You and every shatterling of the Commonality played a part in bringing it into existence. When you were ambushed, it was your own dark instrument turning against you.’Highlighted by 5 Kindle customers
What right does the universe have to say what I can and can’t do? I’m intelligent. The universe is just a lot of hydrogen and dirt, going through the motions. But in this instance the universe has the final say.Highlighted by 5 Kindle customers
The Absence is a barrier that permits faster-than-light travel between two points in space, millions of light-years apart, without violating the causal ordering postulate. The wider universe never observes superluminal travel.’Highlighted by 4 Kindle customers