I’ve cut back on reading fiction this past Lent. It was truly more from being busy than from a resolution. I did enjoy, for the most part, a breakthrough novel of sorts by veteran sf writer Kay Kenyon, Bright of the Sky, reviewed briefly here. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, which has just been published.
I’m very picky about science fiction and fantasy. I also read for details. I’m always pleased to see a good writer develop characters and world-building, too. World-building is great in this first book. Kenyon writes of a universe not of space, but of a tunnel wide as a broad river valley and light years long: all land for the various aliens and the two humans within it.
A man is separated from his wife and daughter, and searches this universe, the Bright, for them. One is thought dead. The other is said to be enslaved. Neither is quite accurate, and the man’s quest is dogged by friends, foes, events, lies, and political circumstances among the aliens of the Bright. It’s the first of a series of four, so naturally, the main point is unresolved at the end. But the protagonist Quinn is on the delivery end of a few surprises.
Too bad this excellent read was spoiled by a big science gaffe about two-thirds of the way through: stars winking out hundreds of light years away (and thus hundreds of years in the past) being linked to alien action in the present. Sure, there’s some tweaking of time passing at a different pace in the new universe and ours. But the unexplained connection of current events to those that happened hundreds of years ago is a distraction, not unlike the one that marred Kevin Anderson’s series opener of the Saga of the Seven Suns. I’m sure there’s a vital point in it, but it could have been handled better.
And there’s a heinous and somewhat curious crime committed by the protagonist that sets up a final fifty pages of a heart-stopping chase. I wasn’t convinced it was anything more than a dollop of pathos dropped from above. Unless I missed something, it could have been handled better.
I’d still recommend the book, if you enjoy a 70/30 sf/fantasy mix.