Outstanding Outer Space Adventures: Promises Stronger than Darkness and The Spare Man

12 Apr

Promises Stronger than Darkness
by Charlie Jane Anders

Promises Stronger than Darkness is the third and final novel in the Unstoppable Trilogy. I had previously blogged about Victories Greater than Death, the first in the series. Although the series is marketed as YA, it also has appeal for adult readers who are looking for Science Fiction with a bit of humor and a lot of heart. There are many plot points from the previous novels to be wrapped up and they are best read in order. The book focuses both on a diverse group of humans who are helping to fight for the survival of the universe including Rachel, a neurodivergent artist from America, and Elza, a transwoman from Brazil, as well as a variety of aliens such as the bug like Wyndgonk, who can produce fire, and Tina, a purple hued, jewel adorned clone of the famed Captain Argentian. Themes about the importance of friendship, taking the time to work through the difficulties of cross cultural communication and not making assumptions about others, and finding ones own identity outside of family and your community’s expectations are all explored. Although sometimes I wished the book lingered a bit more over world building since the brief descriptions of planets and alien cultures were so intriguing, the action packed pace of the novel kept me reading to the satisfying end. We read Anders’s novel, All the Birds in the Sky as part of the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group, which the group and I also enjoyed. I received an advance copy of Promises Stronger than Darkness from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for providing an honest review.

The Spare Man
by Mary Robinette Kowal

I’m a fan of both Science Fiction, Mysteries, and Cruise Ships so when I learned about Mary Robinette’s Kowal’s newest novel, a mystery set on space cruise ship between Earth and Mars, I couldn’t wait to check it out. The Spare Man, of the title, refers to a body found on board which can not be identified, but if the title sounds familiar that is because the novel was partially inspired by the classic Dashiell Hammett novel and film adaptation, The Thin Man, featuring Nick, Nora, and their adorable dog Skippy. Tesla Crane, a famous inventor and heiress, is on her honeymoon in disguise with her husband, a retired detective and her adorable service dog, Gimlet. When her husband is accused of murder they must solve the case before they become the next victims. I appreciated that Tesla’s chronic pain and PTSD from a serious accident in her past are handled in a realistic way which both adds to plot elements, but also should resonate with those who have similar conditions, who might not often see people like them depicted in genre fiction. Each chapter begins with either a classic or original cocktail recipe, including some that are alcohol free. I had previously blogged about Kowal’s novels, Without a Summer, part of her Glamourist Histories series and The Calculating Stars part of her Lady Astronaut’s Society series, which we read as part of the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

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