Monday, July 28, 2014

Surfing the Human Wave: Sabrina Chase's The Long Way Home

After a week and change on a monster kick, I shall now return to straight space opera with Sabrina Chase's The Long Way Home. The first novel of the Sequoyah series, The Long Way Home stars an explorer, Moire Cameron, who is wrenched eighty years out of time by "Einstein's revenge" and plunked into a universe in which humanity is locked in a long war of attrition with a neighboring alien race and NASA has been supplanted by a scheming megacorp that, by the way, really, really wants to capture Moire and silence her before she reveals the secret behind her last mission. Throughout the novel, Moire is forced to jump from post to post in order to evade her pursuers; along the way, she picks up a mysterious child-like companion and, eventually, a loyal crew.

Some of the tropes employed here are fairly well-worn for the genre. We have, for example, the villainous corporation with designs on the rest of the galaxy -- and the broken-down tramp freighter that still manages to survive disasters that would conquer other ships. In this story, however, said tropes work reasonably well mainly because Sabrina's characters are solid enough to keep things fresh and interesting. I especially appreciate the journey Moire takes throughout the novel as she goes from feeling out-of-place and distrustful to becoming a legitimate leader who finds new strength and purpose in caring for others. That is in fact what the Human Wave is about (at least in part): The nobility of overcoming fear for the sake of something other than yourself.

The only major complaint I have in re: The Long Way Home is that it just -- ends. We don't find out what Alan is precisely (although I can basically guess he's been genetically engineered and trained to be a super soldier). We don't find out why Sequoyah is important and why Moire is so determined to keep it secret. And we don't really learn all that much about Toren's "Long Range Plan" other than the fact that it exists (though, once again, the narrative suggests that galactic domination is probably one of the plan's key features). All of the central questions are essentially left unanswered -- which, in my view, is mildly unsporting.

That being said, Sabrina has definitely grabbed my attention. If she noticed a bump in her sales the other day, that was me -- buying the second and third books in the series.

Final Verdict: Recommended. 

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