I had already read this book a while ago, but the review doesn’t match the rest of the SPFBO books. It was part of Qwillery’s grouping and has since been eliminated.
The main character, Akal is an Astraean, who are a nearly immortal like race of beings that can live for billions of years and take millions of forms. Akal is about 11.5 billion years old and has lived as light/energy, trees, humans, other sentient alien species etc. Bein Astraean is something that happens to you, rather than being born into it, so a lot of the plot is revolving around Akal figuring out what it means to be Astraean.
He has a wife on Earth after a World War that has ended life on Earth outside of a handful of habitats, one or two per continent.
The people who survive the world war and built these habitats called themselves the Earthly Nine, there are 9 habitats across the globe, and they have banished all previous country allegiances. They attempted to make a ‘perfect society’, where weapons of all kinds are banned, you can’t proselytize about your religion, there are strict rules on how to address people and show respect – and if you break any of these rules you can be thrown out of the habitat, which is essentially a death sentence.
He and his wife, Lanya, want to have a kid, so they’ve applied to the population control agency to ask for the permission to have a child – but the wait list is at least 6 years long and Lanya doesn’t want to wait around for that. She gets angry and volatile during a meeting with the council and she gets thrown out of the habitat, and shortly after Akal is murdered and has to find a way back to Earth at the right time to re-do the events of history.
The Astraean life style, culture, and how everything works with them is fairly complicated, and it’d take a lot to type it all out. But, long story short, Akal is a newbie to being an Astraean and needs help learning how everything works and you learn along with him.
Final Score: 7.5/10
Akal is deeply in love with his wife and most of the book revolves around him trying to get her back. Although he tends to be caring towards most people and things, being a polite person who’s helpful when he can be – if you piss him off (like killing his wife) he has a darker side and doesn’t mind killing people. He even enjoys it and plays around with someone’s blood mocking them as they die.
Final Score: 7.5/10
I think the most fascinating part of the book was going to the city full of Astraeans, The Harbor, and seeing what these billion-year-old beings live their daily lives. It’s a city of beauty and awe, and everyone is extremely friendly and helpful as if everyone is close friends with one another. There’s a reason for it and it’s pretty cool.
There are a ton of alien races that are addressed, including alien species from other universes, The Harbor is sort of “outside of time” but can be visited by other species through specialized transport.
“Ribbons” come in and out of The Harbor and allow Astraeans to come and go from their lives across the universe. Specialized transport allows them to ride the ribbons and get precise dates and places where they want to go.
The Astraeans are supposedly unique in the universe, but old lore says there may be another race like the Astraeans, but with more malicious intent. The Astraeans are generally a ‘good’ race of beings.
Astraeans don’t reproduce in a normal way, and they are related by ‘spirit’ rather than genetics
Final Score: 8/10
It’s not a terribly long book, and the pace was fairly steady. The world building and plot got you to turn pages rather than a book with a lot of ‘action’ or fight scenes.
The tone is sort of hard to pin down, there were some moments when Akal was really happy, and somewhere things were super shitty or sad. Overall though, it wasn’t a bleak or depressing book.
Pacing Final Score: 7/10
Writing Final Score: 8/10
This is one of the more unique books of the SPFBO batch I’ve read this year, this is like taking Dax from Deep Space Nine and jacking it up a few levels.
Final Score 9/10
- For people who like sci fi
- For people who like unique nonhuman POV’s
- For people who like alien species
- For people who like exploration
- For people who like single pov
- For people who like low violence