cover image Noumenon


Marina J. Lostetter. Harper Voyager, $15.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-249784-0

In Lostetter’s ambitious and stunning debut, the Planet United Missions of a near-future Earth send a convoy off to investigate an anomalous star. Astronomical observation shows that LQ Pyxidis is variable in a way that suggests it’s either a unique opportunity to learn about solar system development or something created by intelligent beings. Convoy Seven travels faster than light, but the journey still takes generations, so it is crewed by clones of Reginald Straifer, the star’s discoverer; Akane Nakamura, the principal engineer; and Jamal Kaeden, who creates an artificial intelligence to help maintain the fleet. Given the dizzying timespan of the journey, Convoy Seven itself is in one sense the protagonist. As time passes, grappling with the individuality of different iterations of the various clone lines becomes as vital and necessary to the crew as figuring out what is going on at the star. Lostetter handles a complex and fractured narrative masterfully, never allowing her novel to become confusing or unconvincing. There are no easy answers to the book’s questions, but the lingering sense of wonder and discovery thoroughly justifies its title. (Aug.)