cover image Fallen


Melissa Scott. Candlemark & Gleam, $22.45 trade paper (302p) ISBN 978-1-952456-20-6

In this middling sapphic space opera, four-time Lambda Literary Award winner Scott returns to the universe of her 2018 novel Finders, where rebel AI trapped in an alternate dimension called “the possible” wage an everlasting war against humanity. Spaceship captain Nic en Doreney accepts a job from her former lover, Rejane Novilis, a scholar of Ancestral technology (human tech from before the AI war) and daughter of an influential family. The women travel to Valenguar, where Rejane tempts Nic into experimenting on a Great Remnant, one of the most powerful Ancestral artifacts, though its purpose has been forgotten. They achieve more explosive results than Rejane had ever dreamed, setting off a series of events that bring Nic face to face with her past and radically change her future. The settings are vivid and immersive, but the worldbuilding is bewildering at times, with names of both AI and god-like humans from before the war dropped in without context. As both the world’s history and its present require considerable explanation, the adventure takes a long time to reach its climax. Sapphic romance lovers will also be frustrated that the rekindling love between the leads largely occurs off-screen. This comes up short. (Dec.)