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This is a novel from the the 2010 decade. Its title may be of the form "The <flower><group>". The novel isn't obscure, it is by a well-known author it might even have won a prize, and I will metaphorically kick myself when the answer is revealed. I'd welcome suggestions for how I might have found it for myself.

A group of siblings or clones, both male and female, tour the galaxy and aid failed societies with technological help. Every so often (every 100K years?) they gather to exchange news and to socialise.

The novel mostly follows a pair of them that have formed an amatory relationship and are traveling together. The rest of their 'family' would disapprove, possibly thinkint it incestuous.

Snippets from the novel

  • an aquatic, scholastic being traveled on his ship. It complained often about its tank and eventually dies.
  • the scholar was journeying to a central library/deposit of information
  • he has to be rescued from a trap run by something/someone who is collecting starships
  • a set of Dyson rings that surrounded a nova and protected nearby star systems has failed. An ex-patriot of one such system doesn't know that his race is extinct and mutn't know because it will suicide with a nuclear device
  • an inner group of the clone/family was somehow involved in the suppression/extinction of a society/nation of robots/mechanical life-forms. This group gives the novel its name.
  • it transpires that the mechanical society escaped to Andromeda (galaxy) using a portal.

PS This is not the 'Qeng Ho' of Vernor Vinge

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  • "An ex-patriot of one such system " Do you mean "expatriate"? Commented 17 hours ago

1 Answer 1

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I'm pretty sure this is House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds.

From Wikipedia:

House of Suns concerns the Gentian Line, also known as the House of Flowers, composed of Abigail Gentian and her 999 clones (or "shatterlings"), male and female: exactly which of the 1,000 shatterlings is the original Abigail Gentian is unknown. The clones and Abigail travel the Milky Way Galaxy, helping young civilizations, collecting knowledge, and experiencing what the universe has to offer. Members of the Gentian Line are named after flowering plants.

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  • How can clones be both male and female? A "clone" is an identical copy, changing gender means the copy is no longer identical. (No attack on you, you didn't write the Wiki article or the original book.)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 10 at 12:25
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    Shrug. A lot of things in Reynolds' writing is under-explained; he's really an ideas person, not a details one. I don't think the shatterlings are at all identical though, they seem to have no trouble distinguishing each other. Commented Jun 10 at 12:28
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    Fair enough. Maybe then, "shatterling" is a better term since it's made up and can have any connotation desired. "Clone" tends to lead one down a certain thought path. Having not read the book, maybe Reynolds uses "shatterling" exclusively and it's just the Wiki article that muddles things with "clone"... </random musings>
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 10 at 12:54
  • @FreeMan Maybe some of the clones are transgender?
    – Hearth
    Commented 2 days ago
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    @FreeMan tbf, lots of media with "clones" includes "adjustments" to many of the "clones" so that they are not actually true clones of their sire (cf all the clone troopers in Star Wars, who have all been adjusted for rapid development and various other ways from Jango, unlike Boba who is identical)
    – Tristan
    Commented 2 days ago

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