cover image In Our Stars

In Our Stars

Jack Campbell. Ace, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-64063-0

Campbell (the Outlands novels) launches a new series with this energetic human-alien romance wrapped in an inter-planetary thriller. When a mysterious blip appears on the space cruiser Vigilant’s radar, Lt. Kayl Owen is assigned to investigate. The year is 2140, Mars has been colonized, and Kayl, a hot-rod helmsman with an axe to grind, discovers a single survivor in the wreckage of a highly advanced spaceship: Lt. Selene Genji. After Kayl learns that Selene’s DNA is partly extraterrestrial, she reveals that she’s from the future. She witnessed the destruction of Earth by a bomb so powerful it shot her back in time—and now she hopes to prevent this fate from happening. The two join forces to alter the future, which leads to numerous hair-raising chase scenes and crash-landings, as well as some cozy downtime aboard a luxury space liner. All the while, Kayl is falling in love with the beautiful and super-strong Selene, who worries that, because of the time loop, at any moment she might cease to exist. Campbell juggles a lot here, with military cover-ups, alien first encounters, and ruminations on what it means to be human studding the sprawling plot. Though the romance gets gooey, the high-orbit tech is nifty, and there are some fun secondary characters (including Owen’s mother and aunt, who clash over him having an alien girlfriend). This series is off to a good start. (May)