cover image Meru


S.B. Divya. 47North, $16.99 trade paper (450p) ISBN 978-1-66250-509-6

Empathy convincingly overcomes anxiety in this thoughtful, inventive, and impressively understated space opera from Divya (Machinehood). Having devastated the environments of both Earth and Mars centuries before the start of the book, humanity has confined itself to Earth so as not to wreck any more planets and has accepted guardianship by the alloys, humankind’s post-human, space-faring descendants. Now, Jayanthi, a human raised by alloys, wants to believe that humanity has outgrown its toxic “Aspiration and Avarice Disorder” and is fit to travel the universe again. To prove this, she sets out for the newly discovered planet Meru, hoping to demonstrate her theory that people with sickle cell anemia like her will be particularly well suited to the planet’s environment. She manages to recruit fledgling alloy pilot Vaha, and, despite the limitations of their human and alloy natures, the pair discover first mutual kindness and then love—but both are unaware of the alloy Pushkara’s plot to sabotage the experiment. Divya filters the immensity of outer space through the lens of close personal relationships, crafting compassionate and responsible characters (whatever their physical forms may be) that will surely win over readers. The result is subtle, strange, and immensely satisfying. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary. (Feb.)