Disclaimer: I acquired this novel at a convention through a book trade with the author, whom I consider a friend.
What an incredibly refreshing science fiction novel to find in a market that sometimes feels saturated with overly complex space opera and violence-infused military epics. Though this novel includes complex world-building and plenty of (sometimes violent) action and adventure, the tone and voice were a pleasure to immerse myself into.
Most of this has to do with the point of view character, who’s just a guy dumped into peculiar circumstances and trying to make the best of the situation without any of the extensive scientific or military knowledge that most SF heroes already seem to have. What Jason does have is a infusion of nanites that turn him from an overweight, middle-aged blue-collar worker to a young healthy man with surprise knowledge that he really only partially grasps. He tries to make the best of the situation he finds himself in, even if it means disrupting the galaxy while trying to save the world. He does this with a delightful amount of snark and sarcasm that might not appeal to all readers, but was absolutely hilarious to me.
As an added bonus, it’s awesome to see a gay character in a genre novel that doesn’t turn into a story about the character being gay. He’s gay, it’s part of his personal history, and he has much, much bigger things to deal with (like all the aliens he’s found himself surrounded by). To be honest, I was much more invested in his relationship with his pet cat, which was probably one of the best friendships I’ve seen portrayed in literature.
As an aside, the characterization of the nanite-enhanced cat was also fantastic. Leo doesn’t suddenly become a human intelligence in a cat’s body. He’s still just cat — who happens to know more about technology than pretty much any other character in the book, but approaches everything the same way I see in my own pet cats.
Due to the nature of the plot, this book contains a ton of different alien species and civilization. Though occasionally some description could have been abbreviated, each alien was beautifully brought to life, and I got the sense that the author knew much, much more than he was sharing with the audience rather than just making up enough to get by. I’d be interested to see what else this galaxy has in store for us to experience.
Currently reading: “Ships and Stings and Wedding Rings” (A Chronicles of St. Mary’s Short Story) by Jodi Taylor