Zero gee seas of air &
pirates & nations.
The concept of this book is probably the most endearing thing about this book-- the concept thus: the world of Virga is a vast, planetsized bubble of air. The suns are artificial engines, & gravity is non-existant. The book cleaves closely to this-- I'm not a physicist but it seems to be very well realized. Towns are built like wheels, with centifugal force mimicing gravity, & taxed by the governemnt (whoever that government may be-- more on that in a bit). I think it actually is centrifugal & not centripetal-- since it is actually about frame of reference. I could be wrong-- as I said, not too savvy with the physics. Which is kind of the joy here; not sussing the actual reality of zero-g (or microgravity) but kind of having an idea? Puts me in a spot to go "oh, wow, right!" when Schroeder makes an offhanded comment about grabbing a strap or wagglin an arm to provide rotation.
The characters are both pastiche'd enough to get you to click with them pretty immediately & at the same time unique enough to defy your expectations. The politically cunnning, sociopathic wife? Who blackmailed her father into a marriage better suited to her ambitions? Is not done a disservice. Her husband? Isn't a useless fop but rather a heck of a guy. Their marriage? Is not a farce. The young kid? Grows up, & not gross or precociously. Well, maybe a little precociously, but that is to be expected in fiction-- who wants to read about a stupid kid? The wayward scoundrel? He has shifts in his attitudes, & he realizes the reality of certain situations not too long after the reader does. & they all go around on airships & such-- you know I dig that scene.
The world is really interesting. No kidding, I'm a world-builder, so I like to see what gets done, thus. The eponymous "sun of suns" in the middle. Icebergs at the edge. Inbetween, floating towns & nations-- & what makes a place a nation is having a "sun" of its own. The various nations are hinted at, besides a few which are dealt with directly. That hinting implies a great deal of variety, suggests a vastness that really evokes a complex situation. Technologically, the world is interesting. Spoiler! Rather than simply being technologically collapsed, which is what I assumed? You know, "once mankind was great, but that time has passed!" Instead, Virga is specifically protected from super-technology, or as the book calls it, "Articial Nature." Yes-- outside the bubble, people are a tapestry of post-human game-churches (virtual realities), chinese box personas (collective entites, related to the first), surfers (completely virtual entities) & so forth. One of the characters in the book is an outside from this world, where technology that evolves individually makes everyone gods & slaves at once. The "sun of suns" however puts out some kind of effect that renders such technology, or even radio, moot. That last bit really tilted my perception of the book. It hints at the relationship between humanity & post-humanity in a way that I don't agree with, but I didn't feel preached to. There are two more books in the series, & I will probably read the next pronto. Which is evidence of liking the book quite a bit.