cover image Ocean’s Echo

Ocean’s Echo

Everina Maxwell. Tor, $27.99 (480p) ISBN 978-1-250-75886-6

Helming this brilliant and decisively modern space opera from Maxwell (Winter’s Orbit) is charming rogue Tennalhin “Tennal” Halkana, who can read minds and makes that everyone else’s problem—until his powerful aunt forces him into the military as punishment for using his powers illegally. The military uses Readers to navigate “chaotic space,” and it has a solution for Readers who rebel: a “sync,” or permanent mental bond with an Architect, people with the power to control others’ minds. Faultlessly dutiful Surit Yeni, the son of a legendary traitor, is handpicked to sync with Tennal and with him take a salvage crew into chaotic space, searching for an abandoned station. But when Surit learns that Tennal is an unwilling civilian, he instead agrees to help Tennal escape—just as soon as they get through the mission. To do so, they must pretend the sync was successful. This is hard enough—but then it turns out that the wreck they’re salvaging is where Surit’s mother blew herself up, and what they discover inside reveals the true, awful source of Reader and Architect powers and plunges the sector into a bloody coup. With this outing, Maxwell incisively challenges military and alien artifact SF and digs into the uncomfortable core of these tropes. The queernorm world and heart-tugging slow-burn romance between the leads only enhances the experience. This earns a space on shelves alongside the very best of the genre. (Nov.)