Obsessed Much?

“The Book of Lycaon is a marvel, Ms. Lang. It records more than three millenia of blood lore, thirty-three hundred years of werewolf history and genealogy. I’ve made it my life’s study and have translated dozens of obscure, extinct dialects–some recorded nowhere else. The volumes describe how werewolves are created and how they die, and how they are cured.”

Gallard gripped Tati’s arm and drew her to the leather-bound books.

“This is your history now, Tatiana, and your salvation.”

Goodreads Review of House of Suns

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’ve been on an Alastair Reynolds binge recently and they absolutely don’t get much better than this. Reynolds is a master of hard-science fiction. House of Suns is a loose whodunit featuring six million year old clones wandering the galaxy in deep time. The thousand (give or take) clones of Abigail Gentian meet up every revolution of the galaxy for a reunion and now someone wants them dead. The concept that struck me was how the mind would cope with six million years of memories. At the reunions the clones download and share their memory strands but they still retain most of them.

There are a few weak spots. Two of the clones, Purslane and Campion, have chosen to consort, that is, to form a personal relationship. They’re lovers. This is frowned upon by the rest of the Gentian line. The chapters alternate between his POV and hers, which would be fine if there was a lick of difference in the two characters. Maybe that was intentional, but I think not. You have to deduce POV from the action.

The other (mostly minor) gripe is that the ending is very abrupt. Major plot issues are resolved but the final chapter seemingly ends in mid-scene.

I still give House of Suns two thumbs, way up.



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The Wolf Life

“Being a werewolf isn’t like what Hollywood says. Sure, for a night or two around the full moon you’re on top of the world. The wolf takes over and your body changes into this magnificent beast that owns the darkness. Then the bloodlust rises and you slay indiscriminately, blindly. And suddenly you’re human again and you wake up naked behind a dumpster or deep in the woods or in some farmer’s stock yard. And for four weeks you live with the horrific knowledge that you’ve killed yet again. And one night the full moon rises and the cycle begins again.”

12-Step for Werewolves

Tati drained the last of her beer. She watched through the window as a local loaded equipment into the bed of a pickup truck.

“These are good folks, Omar. I’d hate to kill any of them.”

Omar leaned close. “The full moon isn’t for three days. Let’s get back to the ranch. There’s a valley miles from town with deer, elk, and antelope. I’ve hunted there for years as a wolf. You don’t have to kill anyone.”

Tati shook her head. “What is this, a twelve-step program for werewolves?”

Omar chuckled. “Now there’s an idea. A twelve-step for recovering werewolves. It’s almost too bad there aren’t more of us.”

Preacher Wolf

“How’d you get to be a werewolf preacher? That’s just wrong on so many levels.”

Omar laughed and grabbed a burrito from the bag. “It’s not, really. I was pretty well lost. I had a bad coke habit, lost my job and my family. I was living in a car I’d stolen. Somebody found me and thought I was worth saving. This guy got me into rehab. It didn’t take the first two times, but eventually something got through. I’d been sober for six weeks when I was attacked on a camping trip. This wolf creature slashed my guts open. I could SEE my intestines hanging out. By the next day my wounds had healed. That’s about sixteen kinds of not right.”

Tati didn’t speak. What happened to Omar had happened to her half a world away–the wolf attack, anyway. At last she said, “And the preaching?”

Omar swallowed a mouthful of burrito. “Somebody took me out of the gutter. My life wasn’t worth saving but he did it anyway. I wondered what kind of person would do that. I wanted to let other people know they were worth saving too.”

“It was Gallard, wasn’t it? Gallard saved you.”

Omar nodded. “Well, Gallard got me out of the gutter. The saving came from somewhere else.”

“But you’re a werewolf. How do you square that with God? I thought there was the whole ‘Thou shalt not murder’ thing.”

Omar laughed. “It ain’t easy. God gives me grace and Gallard lets me use his hunting preserve on the full moons.”

Living the Nightmare

“This isn’t something you ‘come to terms with’. That makes it sound like a negotiation. No, one day you’re a normal person with a normal life and the next you’re an inhuman monster stalking the helpless under a full moon. The smell of blood is the smell of madness–and release.”

Tati cut a thick piece of the rare, juicy steak.

“You know what’s funny? Before I became a werewolf I was a vegan. Ain’t that a kick.”

The Wolf Seeks Peace

“You and I have seen the face of abject horror in our victims, the look when the wolf is at their throat and there’s no escape. They soil themselves or attempt to flee from what lies before them. It’s absolute gibbering helplessness.

“But there was one–a girl by a lake in Ontario four summers ago–she welcomed me in utter, loving fearlessness. It wasn’t resignation or some weary longing for the release of death. Death, even in the brutal, tearing jaws of the wolf, held no terror for her. She welcomed what came after, the life after the death. From that time I’ve sought that peace.”

Preaching Morals to A Werewolf

Tati snorted. “Don’t preach to me, Omar. I’m cursed. I’m a werewolf, a creature of the night and all that. Your human morals don’t apply to me. “

The preacher shook his head. “You don’t get off that easy, girl. You’re as human as I am. The difference is you have the wolf pathogen in your blood. When the bloodlust comes on you at the full moon, you’re not making choices, the wolf is.”

He pulled back his shirt collar to reveal a livid scar. “And for the record, you’re not the only werewolf around here.”

Transformed

Tati gave a feral growl as the full moon broke over the horizon. Her mouth and nose stretched to the form of a muzzle and canine fangs erupted from her jaw. As her back elongated she dropped to all fours. The excruciating pain of the transformation shuddered through her and whatever human consciousness remained faded before the all-consuming wolf awareness. She gave a violent tail-to-snout shake, sat back on her haunches and howled at the silver moon.