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3.5 

The Vela: A Novel

By Yoon Ha Lee & Becky Chambers
The Vela: A Novel by Yoon Ha Lee & Becky Chambers digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

In the fading light of a dying star, a soldier for hire searches for a missing refugee ship and uncovers a universe-shattering secret.

Orphan, refugee, and soldier-for-hire Asala Sikou doesn't think too much about the end of civilization. Her system's star is dying, and the only person she can afford to look out for is herself.
When a ship called The Vela vanishes during what was supposed to be a flashy rescue mission, a reluctant Asala is hired to team up with Niko, the child of a wealthy inner planet's president, to find it and the outer system refugees on board.
But this is no ordinary rescue mission; The Vela holds a secret that places the fate of the universe in the balance, and forces Asala to decide?Çöin a dying world where good and evil are far from black and white, who deserves to survive?
From award-winning science fiction authors Becky Chambers (The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few), Yoon Ha Lee (Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem, Revenant Gun, Dragon Pearl), Rivers Solomon (An Unkindness of Ghosts), SL Huang (Zero Sum Game.)

Don't miss the sequel to the Vela, coming in 2020 from Serial Box (serialbox.com)

9 Reviews

3.5
“This story has both an interesting premise and a novel structure. It’s a serial novel where each chapter is written by a different author. And it’s a classic sci-fi space opera setting used to tell a very modern story in a thought-provoking manner. The theme is refugees: what they go through, what it means to be one, how they are perceived and treated. And true to most sci-fi explorations of current topics of political commentary it has a multi-faceted and much more nuanced approach than either news pundits or many novels dealing with the subject. Transposing the subject matter into deep space in an alien solar system populated by cultures unrecognizable to us has a way of both cutting to the heart of matter and permitting a more in-depth analysis without any of the pitfalls of speaking about recognizable cultures, countries or even people. It’s also eminently a story about family bonds and how they evolve over time. Both the main characters have an uneasy relationship with their families and are struggling to reconcile their daily duties with their understanding of what it means to be a part of their respective families. It’s also surprisingly versatile in style. It starts of as a classic buddy cop story with the eager newcomer and the world-weary mentor and then it adds in the space opera and a cyberpunk flavor with a strong sprinkling of dystopia. It helps that I loved the characters. It may be my own damn fault for continuing to read them but I’m a bit over-saturated with ‘young’ stories. This isn’t just a matter of age though, but mostly of how characters behave and what their goals in life are. While Niko is young and eager to prove themselves, they’re definitely not stupid and they aren’t a love-sick puppy mooning over someone or on a typical ‘chosen one’ path. On the contrary, that trope is lambasted in all its ridiculousness here. There’s none of that idealistic streak - this is a ruthlessly pragmatic story both in how the events unfold and in how they affect the characters and their relationships. It’s not bleak and misanthropic but there’s a distinct lack of faith in the general goodness of humanity. Only the realistic recognition that many people do come through for others when it matters - as best they know how and to the best of their abilities (which means their efforts may often be counter-productive); also: there’s a bunch of egotistical assholes around as well that will go out of their way to ruin things for others. And they’re not monsters either. They’re the good ones in their own mind. On this note: kudos for one of the absolut best villains - the general is absolutely blood-curdling in a very believable way. Basically, this is a 5 star story as far as it goes. The transitions between authors are surprisingly smooth. The characterization is consistent and subtle throughout. There’s really nothing to fault. My issue is that I’m a ‘completionist’ and firstly it’s uncertain whether the story will ever be completed. Secondly, I’ve heard the second book is measurable worse (and it’s not written by the same authors as the first but by less famous ones). So my enjoyment is somewhat dimmed by the fact that we don’t get a real conclusion, we don’t get full character arcs and damn it all to hell but I was really hoping for a facile Katharsis having the villain basically burn in hell. She’s awesomely hateable!”
“I did not love this one as much as I hoped to. Perhaps having so many authors writing one story just did it work as well as they I thought it might. As a Becky Chambers fangirl, I have to say that her chapters stood out. She really knows how to evoke an emotional reaction/connection. A big thank you to the authors, the publisher, and NetGalley for a copy of this ARC.”

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