Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Across the Universe (fiction)

Can the folks in charge really control every bit of what people learn and know? Can history be rewritten so completely that the truth will never be discovered? Take a little trip with this book that moves our fear of the different to a whole 'nother level. And "May the Fourth be with you" - it's Star Wars Day!

Book info: Across the Universe / by Beth Revis. Razorbill (Penguin), 2011. 416 pgs. [author's website] [publisher website] [book website] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Frozen for the 300-year space journey to a new Earth with her scientist parents – what will it really be like, Amy wonders. Centuries pass on the spaceship Godspeed for the placid farmers on the Feeder level and stolid techs on the Shipper level, all 20 or 40 or 60 years old, each "gen" all born the same year following the Season of mating, same color skin, same color hair, same color eyes.

Elder was born a dozen years earlier than his gen, so that his training as their leader will be complete when he becomes Eldest. Because the Elder before him died early, he is trained by crotchety Eldest who should have already retired and dislikes the teenager’s questions. Life aboard ship requires harmony and working together and strong leadership and no individuality, says Eldest.

Why didn’t he tell Elder about the lower level below the Feeder farm blocks, a level filled with frozen people waiting to be reanimated when they reach Centauri-Earth? That level’s alarms sound as a Frozen’s cryo is turned off, and a pale-skinned, red-haired teenage girl wakes up. Amy is stunned to find that her parents aren’t awake, that the ship is decades away from landing, that she’s trapped in this tiny world with people who know only a sanitized version of Earth’s history, one that reinforces uniformity and follows a strong leader without questions.

Suddenly other cryos are turned off with no alarms sounding, and experts from the past are dead, sent through the hatch into the vacuum of space by Eldest like any other dead bodies.

Who is killing the cryos? Are the crazy people in the hospital the only sane ones on Godspeed? Will Amy ever talk to her parents again?

A great space thriller, with plenty of questions about ethics, leadership, and humanity. Will the ship ever reach its destination? (one of 5,000 books recommended on

1 comment:

  1. I usually don't read science fiction/fantasy, but this review has me curious. I also love that you review non-US authors on this blog. I'll be checking out your archives definitely :)


    P.S. Love that you spent so much time in China, though 13 round trips -- that's a lot of flying!


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