cover image Nophek Gloss

Nophek Gloss

Essa Hansen. Orbit, $16.99 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-316-43065-4

A revenge plot leads mechanic Caiden across a multiverse populated by a colorful array of humanoid species in Hansen’s wonderfully inventive debut, the first of a space opera trilogy. Fourteen-year-old Caiden lives on a planet that raises vicious predators called nophek. When the planet is attacked by a new shipment of nophek, Caiden alone escapes, and uses his unique ability to manipulate technology to pilot an abandoned spaceship. Caiden soon joins a team of scavengers who guide him to Emporia, an interstellar marketplace where he learns more about the Casthens, who orchestrated the slaughter of his people, and undergoes genetic manipulation to accelerate the development of his body and mind. He emerges a 20-year-old determined to bring down the Casthen—but the Casthen leaders have their own plans for Caiden’s future. Hansen packs a lot of novelty and a fair number of ethical dilemmas into Caiden’s adventures, as he realizes that killing the Casthens will create a devastating ripple effect. Caiden’s ability to control technology also extends to sentient beings, making him wary of his heritage and uncertain of his relationships. But in the end, his essential decency prevails. Space opera fans will be eager for the next installment. Agent: Naomi Davis, Bookends Literary. (Nov.)