Book Title: Forgotten Stars & Distant Seas
Author: J. B. Rockwell
The Nitty Gritty: Aliens, men, and machines create complications … and not always in equal measure.
Ideal Audience: Fans of sci-fi and sci-fi horror.
Strengths: Rockwell pairs up two strong lead characters with a couple of distinct AIs to create a compelling story.
Hot Take: This was my first time reading something by Rockwell, and it won’t be my last. Sometimes, I need time to orient myself with the characters and world the author’s introducing me to, but stepping into this world was effortless. Rockwell doesn’t hold back on the action, either, or the development of her characters. Motives and influences are established early on, and the plot is affected by the characters in believable ways.
One of the other things I really enjoyed about this work was that it starts out with a storyline about how the past affects the present and transforms into something else. Rockwell also avoids simple tropes. While the AIs have personality and create issues, they aren’t simply rogue AIs bent on destroying mankind. I thought it was interesting to see a story with machines that—despite all their sophisticated programming and depth of knowledge—made critical mistakes. Rockwell deftly demonstrates that even machines that intend to make good choices can’t account for factors that would affect people.
There was a great balance between personal relationships and long-term desires, along with the changing reality facing Faraday and the others in Forgotten Stars & Distant Seas. I definitely don’t want to give the resolution away, but I will say there’s a growing sense of dread as you read, and begin to suspect things aren’t going to go smoothly for the characters we’ve come to know and love. Rockwell embraces the potential horror of space exploration and colonization, and doesn’t shy away from the reality that the universe isn’t always a safe and welcoming place.
Book Score: 5 stars
Cover Score: 4 stars