Kirsten Reviews: Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross
Krina Alizond is a metahuman in a universe where the last natural humans became extinct five thousand years ago. When her sister goes missing she embarks on a daring voyage across the star systems to find her, travelling to her last known location - the mysterious water-world of Shin-Tethys. In a universe with no faster-than-light travel that's a dangerous journey, made all the more perilous by the arrival of an assassin on Krina's tail, by the 'privateers' chasing her sister's life insurance policy and by growing signs that the disappearance is linked to one of the biggest financial scams in the known universe. This is set in the same universe as Saturn's Children, 5000 years later.
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross opens with a travel agent offering to amputate limbs to get a customer a better deal. If that doesn't make you laugh, then this book is not for you.
But, for anyone else who did a double take and perked up with curiosity, then this book, featuring manners, or a lack thereof, banking, explosions, all wrapped in an engaging sci-fi package is a definite keeper.
In fact, this book could be billed as a science fiction thriller, or an examination of the intricacies of accounting and interstellar banking.
The protagonist, Krina Alizond-114, is an accounting historian and a metahuman and a descendent of robots that at one time, served humanity. While traveling to the planet Shin-Tethys to find her sister, Ana Graulle-90, her ship is captured by pirates. The pirates' leader, Count Rudi, suspects that there is more to this search than familial devotion is correct. Both Ana and Krina are in possession of a half of the Atlantis Carnet, a powerful financial instrument which, if handled incorrectly, has the potential to topple a civilization. Krina decides to accept Count Rudi's offer to assist her in reaching Shin-Tethys, and in exchange, she will introduce him to Ana.
But, there's a wrinkle in this simple deal, and that comes in the form of an assassin who has been tracking Krina in order to retrieve the carnet and kill any witnesses. With all these elements, even large infodumps should bring the story together to a satisfying conclusion.
However, while the world is richly imagined and its main character interesting, few others are as fleshed out and the buildup to the big reveal and conclusion are abrupt and are something of a letdown in comparison to the rest of the book.
That being said, if readers have an interest in accounting, science fiction or pirates, they can easily dive in and see where FTL technology and sums carry them.