cover image Under Strange Suns

Under Strange Suns

Ken Lizzi. Twilight Times (twilighttimes-books.com), $19.99 trade paper (296p) I

With the world in chaos, Aidan Carson signs on to a rescue mission to find a lost aerospace engineer, in this story of interplanetary discovery with some strong points but significant flaws. Aidan hopes to leave his past behind, but he soon learns that conflict is inescapable. Treading dangerously close to Islamophobia in early scenes, Lizzi (Reunion) recovers by moving the story off Earth, only to stumble once more by creating an alien theocracy that hews far too close to fearmongering portrayals of Islam. The aliens look significantly different from humans, but Lizzi suggests that sentient life on other planets would experience the same struggles that we do. There’s a great pulp-like feel to the exploration, theoretical technology, and desperate battles, but generic characters and bloated sentences weigh the story down. Worse, Lizzi keeps all of the female characters on the sidelines, while male humans and aliens play key roles. Brilliant in some ways, broken in others, this work suggests that Lizzi is a writer to watch—but not necessarily one to read just yet. (Dec.)