Stross's new novel: Saturn's Children, a late Heinlein homage

Charlie Stross's new novel, Saturn's Children, is out -- this is Charlie's Heinlein tribute, and unlike everyone else who does classic, adventure -story Heinlein tributes, Charlie's written a novel in the style of the late, indulgent, sex-saturated Heinlein, from the period before a cutting-edge surgery fixed a problem with the blood-supply to his brain (seriously). Orbit, the book's UK publisher, has also put an excerpt online.
Today is the two hundredth anniversary of the final extinction of my One True Love, as close as I can date it. I am drunk on battery acid and wearing my best party frock, sitting on a balcony beneath a pleasure palace afloat in the stratosphere of Venus. My feet dangle over a slippery-slick rain gutter as I peek over the edge: Thirty kilometers below my heels, the metal-snowed foothills of Maxwell Montes glow red-hot. I am thinking about jumping. At least I’ll make a pretty corpse, I tell myselves. Until I melt.

And then –

Link, Link to excerpt, Link to Saturn's Children on Amazon


  1. Well now…Heinlein had his surgery in 1978, and his stereotypically sex-drenched novels were before and after this: I Will Fear No Evil and Time Enough for Love before, The Number of the Beast, Friday and To Sail Beyond the Sunset afterwards. So if it had anything to do with his writing, the surgery didn’t fix anything.

    Me, I doubt there was an “it” to be fixed. His writing started changing in the late 50s and early 60s, and hit where they were going by about Neil Armstrong’s heyday.

    (I like the rambling stuff. The endings are invariably problematic, and there are big bits in the middle that need skipping, but large chunks of them are as good as it gets.)

  2. My experience with Heinlein was typical. I discovered him, Bradbury, Bova, Laumer, Lieber, Niven, Zelazny and a dozen others in Junior High (1970 – 1973). Heinlein’s future intoxicated me. Have Space Suit – Will Travel was the most exciting book I had ever read at the time although I recall being taken aback by at least one instance therein of frank soapbox preaching about politics and government.
    His imagination was outstanding but I subsequently became dissatisfied with what I saw as a distorted view of women. His politics after Watergate increasingly got on my nerves and I went on to other writers. I would welcome another writer with his creativity and more modern ideas about gender and government.

  3. Don’t forget that Spider Robinson also spends a lot of time in Heinlein homage (and he writes in the later style as much as — if not more than — the earlier). Mix in a dash of Donald E. Westlake, a healthy jigger of P. G. Wodehouse, and you’ve got a heady combination of sexy SF and weighty, thought-provoking comedy.

    His Disneyland-inspired novel The Free Lunch is not to be missed.

  4. With the exception of Glory Road, I don’t care for anything after Starship Troopers, including his seminal Stranger In A Strange Land. He’s a Grandmaster, but after enjoying all the juveniles (including my favorite, Citizen of the Galazy) I just couldn’t take the ‘mature’ Heinlein.

  5. Nearly finished it, it’s fantastic; more intelligent than Heinlein ever was. I see you posted the UK cover rather than the US cover, why is this I wonder?

  6. Keeping up with Stross’ output is exhausting. He’s writing them faster than I can get to them, but I’ve yet to be let down by anything I’ve picked up (although I’d really love to see a third Eschaton book soon!).

  7. He’s not writing a third Eschaton book. Ever. Apparently, the Eschaton universe is too broken to be fixed.

  8. I feel I need to point out that the forward to this book is dedicated as follows:

    This book is dedicated to the memory of two of the giants of science fiction:

    Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907-May 8, 1988) and Isaac Asimov (January 2, 1920-April 6, 1992).

    Yes, that’s right—this book is so awesome, you get two for one! Heinleinian robots? Asimovian sexplay? Both!

  9. It sounds bizarre, but whenever I first command-click on a Boing Boing amazon link, to open in a new tab, it says

    Safari can’t open the page “”. The error was: “cannot decode raw data” (NSURLErrorDomain:-1015)

    The 2nd attempt always works. I only get this error from Boing Boing links, and only the first time for a given link.

  10. I think Irish comedian Dylan Moran, mayhaps, deserves some inspiration credit for the language used.

    From Dylan Moran’s “Monster”:

    “When you’re young, you go out, you can do anything; drink battery acid all night — wake up and have a fight!”

    “And the birthday girl! I asked her, ‘Why isn’t anybody playing?’ And she said, ‘Oh, it’s all these parties! You do your hair, you put your frock on — nobody talks to the real you.'”

  11. It was Heinlein’s obsession with incest that’s freaky in his late novels.
    As for good (early and mid-period) Heinlein homages, John Varley’s stuff of late: The Mars trilogy (RED THUNDER, RED LIGHTNING, ROLLING THUNDER), and his time-travel yarn MAMMOTH.

  12. I found “Friday” to be as good as any earlier Heinlein.
    Heinlein is one of my favorite authors and he helped shape my own views with his two major themes.
    Individual Freedom and responsibility and the value of competence.
    “I Will Fear No Evil” was decent,but until”Friday ” came out I thought that Heinlein has lost it.
    I don’t think Heinlein had a poor view of women.
    His women were strong but feminine. Women do think about children and like looking good and being admired.
    Heinlein was quite a feminist considering the generation he came from.
    I often wonder if Heinlein simply wanted to push people into examining their cultural programming about sex.
    I must mention John Barnes as a writer influenced by Heinlein . “Orbital Renaissance” especially comes to mind and “A Million Open Doors” and “Earth Made Of Glass”
    Heinlein was excellent at making Hard Sci-Fi entertaining as well as intelligent and thought provoking.

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