cover image Persephone Station

Persephone Station

Stina Leicht. Saga, $27 (512p) ISBN 978-1-5344-1458-7

Leicht’s sprawling, frenetic science fiction take on The Seven Samurai founders due to an overcrowded plot and characters that lean heavily on cultural stereotypes. The shape-shifting Emissaries are indigenous to the storm-wracked planet Persephone, colonized 150 years ago by the human Serrao-Orlov Corporation. When rogue Serrao-Orlov executive Vissia Corsini attempts to seize Persephone to co-opt Emissary technology, Corsini’s former friend, burned-out nonbinary crime boss Rosie Ashmore, sends trans, disabled, former marine Angel de la Reza and her crew of skilled mercenaries to protect the planet. Alongside Kennedy Liu, an illegally created clone drawn to Persephone by an online plea for help, martial artist Angel and her crew must destroy Serrao-Orlov’s claim to Persephone, save the Emissaries from the threat of genocide, and solve the mystery behind a rogue AI. Despite fast-paced, no-nonsense prose, this first foray into science fiction from fantasy author Leicht (Blackthorn) is overcrowded with an abundance of low-impact, short-term conflicts, unnecessary twists, and convoluted backstory. And though the gender diversity is well handled, the novel’s anti-colonialist themes are undermined by the depiction of the alien Emissaries, which falls into uncomfortable noble savage tropes. This pop culture amalgam reaches for the sky, but comes up short. Agent: Hannah Bowman, Liza Dawson Assoc. (Jan.)