I managed to rate Tim Pratt’s previous book (The Wrong Stars) 3.5 stars, despite some serious issues I had with the book. I did not feel that those issues, specifically the unnecessary focus on a homosexual relationship, was as much an issue here.
The Axiom is the name for an ancient alien race that are currently in a deep hibernation. They’ve set some automated systems in place to watch over the galaxy, which humanity has recently had contact with. The desire to meet with and hopefully learn from this ancient race is contrasted with the information that when the Axiom wake, they will kill us all.
In deep space, Captain Callie Machedo and her crew of White Raven discover a unique swarm of nano-particles that are ‘eating’ and converting everything in their path into ‘computronium’ – everything, including human flesh. While investigating this threat and looking for ways to save some colonists, Machedo and crew discover one of the Axiom’s hibernation locations.
An untrustworthy member of the crew, Sebastien, wakes from his medically induced coma and tells Callie that due to his improved brain functions, he could derail the nanoswarm but he would need to be hooked up to the Axiom’s equipment. Sebastien’s already been co-opted by the Axiom, and letting Sebastien into their hibernation facilities could wake the dangerous sleepers. On the other hand, doing nothing is as good as signing the death warrant for billions as the nano-particles continue on a path toward civilizations.
I really appreciated Pratt’s not dwelling on relationships where it wasn’t necessary (clearly some of it is, especially now, given Sebastien’s strong role). And the threat level here, immediate and long-range, is about as high as it gets. When reading space opera, you want elevated stakes. I really liked the tension that was built here.
And yet … something is still missing for me. I wish I could put my finger on it, but I’m just not fully engaged. The book moves just a bit too slow for me. In a space opera I want to be left breathless. My head should be spinning from everything that is going on, and that just isn’t happening here.
There’s a lot of good content here, but it falls just a tad short of being truly exciting fiction.
Looking for a good book? The Dreaming Stars by Tim Pratt is good space opera, but it isn’t yet great space opera.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Dreaming Stars
author: Tim Pratt
series: The Axiom #2
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 400 pages