Recent Reads: Beyond the Hallowed Sky

Recent Reads: BEYOND THE HALLOWED SKY, by Ken MacLeod

I have to confess I’m…’embarrassingly far behind’ on Ken’s books isn’t sufficient; this is the first one I’ve ever read. It is already not the last, as I bought the sequel immediately, and only after the fact realized it had JUST come out. (After I read the first two chapters I was like “KEN I NEED BOOK THREE” and he was like “I HAVE NOT WRITTEN IT YET, GIVE ME SOME TIME” and, oops. O.O)

Like, I mean, he’s Ken MacLeod, so you probably already know he’s got a reputation for writing great space opera. HALLOWED SKY was, in fact, great space opera. It’s set in the comparatively near future, 70 years out or so, and most of Our Heroes have just discovered that the rest of the world has had FTL travel for decades. Things devolve rapidly from there, with the story coming in three main parts: those who are now developing a FTL drive, those who have colonized a planet with Things On It, and those who would like to be fresh new colonizers but in a sensitive way.

It’s full of good characters, good dramatics, an intriguingly-shaped near future, and politics that make my wee little heart happy. If you like space opera, it’s hard to imagine you’d go wrong reading this. The sequel, BEYOND THE REACH OF EARTH, is available; Ken says book 3 should be out next year. :)

Mathematician Lakshmi Nayak receives a letter from her future self about faster-than-light travel. The equations work, and the letter itself seems to prove the possibility will someday be realized. But her paper on the topic is fiercely criticized, and she’s warned away by a sinister Alliance agent. After defecting to the Union, she gets an unexpected offer: “I can build your ship.” Shipbuilder John Grant learns of a secret project, which unknown to the world has been traveling to the stars for decades: Black Horizon.

Biologist Emma Hazeldene works for Black Horizon on an alien world, Apis, whose life has clearly come from Earth, investigating rock formations that are thought to be an alien, crystal-like intelligence. But refugees exiled to a hard life in the wilds of Apis already know more than the scientists have ever suspected. Everything changes when the rocks wake up, with dire results.

As secrets emerge and rival powers seize advantage, three worlds are shaken to their foundations—and all involved have to fight for their lives, and their futures.

Science fiction legend Ken MacLeod begins a new space opera trilogy by imagining humankind on the precipice of discovery—the invention of faster-than-light travel unlocks a universe of new possibilities, and new dangers.

BEYOND THE HALLOWED SKY is available now! (Simon & Schuster landing page)

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