It is a month for favourites – Charles Stross is rapidly becoming one of the authors I leap upon (metaphorically speaking of course) as soon as something new comes out (we have lots of his stuff in the house but I am trying not to gorge myself as he is far too good to be wasted in that way) and Lee Gibbons is becoming one of my favourite sci-fi cover artists.

So Saturn’s Children is yet more space opera with a strong female lead and an extremely interesting premise, so there was no way that I was going to dislike this novel, which is a really good thriller as well as a sci-fi tale.

 Freya Nakamachi-47 is a cloned synthetic person, designed to be a concubine for humans, but activated long after the human race has totally died out. The robots, for want of a better word, have built their own society which unfortunately has taken on many of the worst aspects of how humans behaved – rigidly hierarchical with everything from aristocrats to slaves, overly legalistic and potentially very harsh.

Freya gets into trouble on Venus and needs to get off-planet very quickly; to do so she takes on a job as a courier, taking contraband from Mercury to Mars. Of course, this all goes a bit pear-shaped as you might expect, and Freya’s troubles multiply as she tries to find out what’s going on, and in particular who wants to kill her.

I really enjoyed this – it’s very funny in places, the thriller bits are thrilling, Freya is a likeable character in difficult circumstances and the story had a nice pay-off as far as I was concerned. Some of the funniest parts relate to the horrors of interplanetary travel – basically not a lot of fun, takes ages, is expensive and passengers often don’t survive. The variety of robot entities, some more humanoid than others, really add to the offbeat alienness of a non-human society. And there are a number of really cool spaceships.

This is another read for the 42 Challenge, and the Sc-fi experience 2010.