Book Review: Noumenon

Author: Marina J. Lostetter

Published: August 1st 2017

Publisher: Harper Voyager

This was one of the few science fiction books that I have recently read. I picked this one up because I enjoyed Ms. Lostetter’s story in the Writers of the Future anthology #29, and was looking forward to her longer works. Glad it came.

The story is set in 2088, and follows a convoy sent to explore a faraway star. Given the centuries-long voyage, clones–and their subsequent generations–are chosen to undertake this mission.

The novel brilliantly mixes the charm of old-school science fiction with the depth and richness of more recent authors’ works like Neal Stephenson. Many reviewers have noted similarities to Stephenson’s SEVENEVES, and I do agree to an extent. The themes explored here are close, such as human ambitions and fears, mortality, generational differences, and the future of AI. However, NOUMENON is more focused on the human and characters’ side of the story, and how that relates to the cold, hard facts of science. The book eventually turns out more vibrant and more thought-provoking than many that have touched on such concepts.

You can think of this book as some sort of a family saga, set in denser and deeper Clarke’s or Asimov’s worlds.

The book is fast-paced and reads like a string of shorter stories connected by an intriguing bigger arc. Fans of the genre will immediately recognize many well-known tropes, and how the author manages to show her fresh take on it.

 

Verdict? Five stars for an excellent debut, and a definite preorder of the sequel.