Ancestral Night: White Space, Book 1

Elizabeth Bear. Saga, $25.99 (512p) ISBN 978-1-5344-0298-0
Anyone who enjoys space opera, exploration of characters, and political speculation will love this outstanding novel, Bear’s welcome return to hard SF after several years of writing well-received steampunk (Karen Memory) and epic fantasy (the Eternal Sky trilogy). As an engineer on a scrappy space salvage tug, narrator Haimey Dz has a comfortable, relatively low-stress existence, chumming with pilot Connla Kuruscz and AI shipmind Singer. Then, while aboard a booby-trapped derelict ship, she is infected with a not-quite-parasitic alien device that gives her insights into the universe’s structure. This makes her valuable not only to the apparently benevolent interstellar government, the Synarche, but also to the vicious association of space pirates, represented by charismatic and utterly untrustworthy Zanya Farweather. While fleeing Zanya, Haimey and her crew discover a gigantic, ancient alien space ship hidden at the bottom of a black hole at the center of the galaxy, and at that point, things start getting complicated. This exciting story set in a richly detailed milieu is successful on many levels, digging into the nature of truth and reality, self-definition vs. predestination, and the calibration of moral compasses. Amid a space opera resurgence, Bear’s novel sets the bar high. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 03/05/2019
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Downloadable Audio - 512 pages - 978-1-5082-8153-5
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