The Moons of Barsk by Lawrence M. Schoen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley for getting this early.
I remember having a few issues with the first novel because of the feeling of aimlessness during the large opening. A hero's journey? Sure, but it wasn't until much later that the "abomination" started getting proactive and interesting in his own right. The end was particularly great. I love all the things that Speakers do: quantum stuff and memory stuff and speaking to the dead stuff all mixed into a heavy SF foam.
My other concern was about the REASONS for the total hate-on for the Fants, the humanoid elephants, by the rest of the other "humans" of different species. Some old wrong, the need to quarantine the whole race based on some kind of evil that even the ghosts of old grandmothers can't quite pin down. And yet, the Fants are still vilified.
Fast forward to this new novel. Our young elephant has gone from a 12-year-old to a 14-year-old and he has rockin powers, being able to split his consciousness, speak to the dead, have telepathy across space, unlimited by lightspeed. Coolness. And even his status as an "abomination" is mitigated by a ton of new friends he made during the first book. Excellent. And we continue on with a number of additional PoVs as well, including the Speakers, the ruling class, and some others, all of which add dimensions to the tale which I thought were pretty good. We're dealing with the issue of the Fants, the technology they developed on the sly, and their place in the greater galactic society.
Yes, the big driver is still a whole race's destiny, the prejudice surrounding them, and the possible "feel good" solution of mixing up the greater peoples with those of the Fants.
For the MOST part, I really enjoyed the drive, the meat of this whole novel, and the conclusion. We really had to make some sort of conflict and resolution with the ruling class of Speakers. And so we did, along with a drop-down, a kick-ass awesome scene full of quantum-memory goodness.
And here's where I reduce this book from a total 5-star rating to a 4. Even though we were introduced to the possibility of the "big solution" that eventually comes at the end, how it is actually pulled off kinda leaves a lot to be desired. It's not officially a deus-ex-machina, but it seriously skirts the edges of one.
Other than that!? I think it's superior to the first. There are more hints as to the deep dark past for the Fants, there are great and interesting developments for the race, and our little abomination is getting kinda beast. :)
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