Joelene Pynnonen embraces the life of an avid book lover in every way. Her household is ruled cruelly by a wrathful cat; and should a fire ever start it is doubtful that she would make it past the elegant stacks of novels to her room door. At least once a year she coerces her mother into watching the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice with her, and will often follow up by re-reading the book.
The planet of Nevermore has been empty – seemingly abandoned by its previously vast population for thousands of years. For Aisha’s archaeologist parents, this is a mystery that needs to be solved – if only they can scrape together the funding for it. Unfortunately, resources for such expeditions are low and, when it looks as though Aisha and her family will be forced to leave Nevermore, Aisha sets off an exploration, hoping to find a treasure worth keeping the expedition funded.
What she does instead is unleash an ancient being, put to sleep six thousand years ago when he became too volatile to manage. Everything about his world has changed since he went to sleep, and all he wants is to find out why. If he is to be loosed on the unsuspecting world, however, Aisha cannot let him go alone.
Khalida is trying to recover from the horrors she has seen and inflicted during her years at war. She’s not doing a particularly good job of it, but when orders come through, calling her back to the precise battle that she had tried to end, she has no choice but to follow. Her niece, Aisha, and Rama, the unbelievably powerful being that Aisha released, are along for the ride – whether Khalida wishes it or not.
As promised in the Kickstarter campaign funding this novel, Forgotten Suns is a rip-roaring adventure in the guise of a space opera. Like any adventure, there is a great journey – though this one spans universes, not just worlds. The world of Forgotten Suns is intricately and tightly woven. Not purely sci-fi, it delves into fantasy at times, seamlessly melding the two genres.
While the mystery at the centre of the story concerns Nevermore, the abandoned planet, and Rama, the ancient being that Aisha awakens, there are other storylines going on that are much more interesting. Khalida’s broken mind and her struggle to keep herself alive, the Psycorps relationship to Military Intelligence, and how it affects the planets they exploit are storylines that are not explored as well as they could be. Much of the issue is that Rama is too powerful for this novel. Any conflict that arises he is too easily able to quash. Psycorps is a genuinely scary organisation and has the potential to be a serious threat, except for Rama’s abilities.
The world of Forgotten Suns is as richly imagined as any space opera should be. Rather than imagining a white-washed future, it delves into a universe diverse in race, sex and sexuality.
Forgotten Suns is a futuristic journey of discovery spanning not only universes but dimensions. Vividly imaginative and almost poetic in metaphorical description, it’s the novel for any aficionado of space opera.
Forgotten Suns – Judith Tarr
Book View Café (April 21, 2015)