Jan 22, 2013: —Edited 5.20.2013 after completing story—
Like most geek culture refugees, I love to explore new worlds and what happens when creatures who are fundamentally different than one another encounter one another. Space exploration or space shows always are perfect vehicles for such drama and while I don’t consume as many space-related works as I used to, it’s really not due to a lack of interest, but availability.
I’m not familiar with MCA Hogarth’s other works. Sometimes worlds with a lot of backstory intimidate me. But I dropped in accidentally on Chapter 25 or 26 (off Twitter) and enjoyed the installment for its rhythm and cadence. I put it on my list of stories to check out. Then when I came back to it I found that I really enjoyed the world itself.
When you start, you feel like you’re dropping into a fully-realized, fully-breathing world. There was a lot of thought to each species’ beliefs, quirks, and the homeworlds from which they came.(I guess this might be linked to her other works, but did not check to see.) For someone who grew up in the post-TNG Trek sci-fi culture, this was like stepping into a familiar and beloved place. I was definitely reminded of the days I could watch space show on TV constantly.
However, it’s not really important to get wrapped up in all the xenobiology or cultures. Overall, I felt that the story had the appropriate level of disclosure without ever straying into the habit of info-dumping that one sees in a lot of sci-/fi and fantasy work these days.
Really it comes down to enjoying the crew of the ship that this work focuses on. There are plenty of odd creatures that really are unclassifiable. (My favorite character seems to be a luminiscent version of a Tribble!)
At times I find the main lead heroine Reese to be somewhat frustrating but ultimately still likable and tough. I think that’s one of the aspects that makes this work both as space fantasy and a romance. Her obvious romantic foils is a member of the Eldritch – telepathic and isolationist creatures. This Hirianthal is "untouchable" in his own way—a perfect contrast to the prickly and "afraid of intimacy" Reese.
At times I wanted to kick Reese around for being so obviously in denial about her inner feelings but thankfully her crew does a good job of keeping her from sliding into shrewish unlikeability by showing us why they like her. (Her crew basically consists of animal-like fuzzy angels as far as I’m concerned because by the end I really wanted to throttle her.)
This babbling about characters/worldbuilding isn’t meant to overshadow the plot. I honestly didn’t care much about what was going on as long as the crew got to do interesting things. Sure, the space crew is a bit like most—always broke, looking for work, and fixing something on their ship that breaks or gets destroyed by problem encounters. There are also allusions to problems and conspiracies, spies and political negotiations. These are basic stables of space fantasy/space opera.
The point is – I enjoyed this unto the end. I’ll definitely look forward to reading the next two works
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