Science and more science

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To Sleep in a Sea of Stars arrived on my doorstep in a poor box nearly bursting through its packing tape. This book is massive, coming in at over 800 pages of seriously impressive hard-scifi exploration.

Xenobiologist Kira Navarez is looking forward to the end of her latest mission. After she and her team have finished scouting the planet of Adrasteia for potential colonization, Kira has plans to explore new corners of space with her team mate and boyfriend Alan. Stumbling across strange ruins, Kira’s world is changed forever and she finds herself at the center of war, and inter-galactic quest, and ancient mysteries lurking in the depths of space.

This book sure puts the science in science fiction. Everything from biohazard containment procedures to different speeds of space travel is described in technical detail, and that’s not even including the appendices with scientific journals on FTL (faster than light travel). The magnitude of detail is beyond impressive. If, like me, you like your sci-fi with more science than you can (probably) understand, this one’s for you.

Personally, I didn’t care much for the overarching plot. I sped through what were probably important plot points because I longed to get back to spaceship life and sharp banter and characters interacting beyond worrying about aliens. My partial disengagement may’ve been due to the sense that there was some part of the story I just wasn’t getting. At face value, some names for locations, creatures, or artifacts struck me as random or cryptically simple. I suspect they’re symbolic in some way that escaped me.

Some scenes I loved, some lines I hope were struck for the final edit, and I can’t wait to read online discussions about that ending.

Will TSIASOS be part of a series?
Paolini has revealed that this is the first of many books he hopes to release in the new Fractalverse. Drafts of a novella and prequel are rumored to be in the works, although there should be a good amount of time for us all to digest TSIASOS before those are released.

Would I recommend for fans of Eragon?
Not necessarily. Outside of sharing the same author, the stories have few similarities. The Inheritance Cycle is very much a character driven story, while TSIASOS focuses on the plot. Also, only one has dragons.

Is TSIASOS appropriate for younger readers?
Kids, no, but maybe teens. There is frequent swearing, violent action, and one or two instances of on-page (but not graphic) sex. Based on that, my knee-jerk reaction is to advise against handing it to non-adult readers, but 1) every reader has different levels of maturity and 2) I read Patrick O’brian’s Master and Commander series as a young teen, and those had enough swearing to shock my grandmother, so I’ll leave it at that.

**Thanks to Tor for the ARC!**