After years of extensive research, well-known fantasy author of the YA Eragon series, Christopher Paolini, releases his first science fiction novel, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. This sweeping epic is the story of Kira Navárez, a xenobiologist stationed with her small team on a uninhabited planet in a remote galaxy. An unexpected encounter with an unknown organism upends Kira’s whole world after she and the soft blade, as the organism identifies itself, meld together. Their symbiotic relationship opens a whole new realm of understanding for Kira as their combined life form struggles to survive against both humans and alien jellies, who come searching for the ancient and powerful soft blade. As they grow in understanding and trust, their abilities and power become the only thing that stands in the way of the malevolent Maw, a being whose only ambition is the total annihilation of humans, jellies, and the soft-blade.
Christopher Paolini’s research into the cutting age technologies of our day is impressive to say the least. His world building is not only sweeping but intricately detailed. His inclusion of thorough Appendices are extremely helpful in that they are packed with explanations and elaborations on the many scientific applications. They are a fabulous source for inquisitive minds. This is definitely not a one time read book, unless you want to takes weeks to complete as you frequently stop and ponder all the different details. There are so many layers of information that it would be easy to get mired down in all the details, but Paolini keeps the story moving with a totally unexpected plot and many memorable characters.
The personal story of Kira Navárez is an excellent compliment to all the hard science. It is poignant and personal and speaks to the thoughts of many people who are thrust in something totally out of their control. As Kira finds; life is not always easy or kind, but the motivation to keep going and do the right thing will ultimately bring a contentment in knowing that, regardless of the outcome, you tried your best. The supporting characters are an integral part of the story and bring humor to sometimes high-tension events. Especially Gregorovich who is the half-mad, expanded human ship brain for the vessel that is helping Kira. He is snarky and down-right hysterical at times and is actually my favorite part of the book.
There are so many “Wow” moments in To Sleep in a Sea of Stars that the ending was a little anti-climactic for me even though it has profound implications. It’s not at all what I was expecting, but then again I don’t actually know what I was hoping for. I do believe that this book will provide the basis for many philosophical discussions concerning creation, extraterrestrial life, and the list goes on, for future generations of students and Sci Fi aficionados.
**(All images in this post are taken directly from To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini)