Mass Effect: Annihilation by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was worried about this novel. I really was. Despite the fact that I love the Mass Effect games and despite the fact that I love Cat Valente's writing, I still felt anxious, wondering if this could never as good as another novel that is wholly original.
You know, the same complaint some of us always have against franchise SF. Name any of them. Star Wars, Star Trek. Some really are good, of course, but expectations rarely live up to execution.
So why do I love this one, then? Is it because of the author or the series or both together?
Actually... neither. Oddly enough. Oh, I love Valente's quirky characters and dialogue. The Elkor doctor constantly quoting Shakespeare? Hell yeah! The Volus interactions were great, too. So snappily thuggish for little tree hugging bears. :) And I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Quarians so that always gets a pass for me.
As a regular SF, this is a locked-room mystery/medical drama on a generation spaceship (genre, not actual, although being en-route for 600 years makes it feel that way). What really got me going, however, was the intense focus on THE REST OF THE RACES in the ME universe. They have a big point, you know. Why do the Humans or the Solarians or the Asari, et al, get the whole manifest destiny thing going on while all the other aliens get left in the dust? Why throw the leftovers into their own Ark?
The whole ME series addresses this question poorly. And, indeed, so do the rest of us. What about all the leftovers? Aren't they worthy of their own stories?
The answer is definitely yes. :) And it doesn't hurt that the worldbuilding is divine, the aliens delightful, and the story solid. Thriller all the way, baby. :)
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