Title: The Stars That Beckon
Author: Kevin J. Simington
Publication date: December 18, 2019
Genre: Science Fiction
One Sentence Summary: Earth has been destroyed by religious zealots and the last of humanity takes to the stars, only to discover their battle for survival has only just begun.
Some months ago, I was fortunate to be able to review Someone Else’s Life by Kevin J. Simington. I adored it, and the author was kind enough to offer The Stars That Beckon, so I’m thrilled to be able to provide a review of the first in his sci-fi StarPath Series. Even though science fiction hardly ever agrees with me, something about it keeps calling me. Usually, the science is completely over my head, but it was actually incredibly accessible to me in this novel, and it really helped me enjoy it.
Easy to Digest Science
It’s an ordinary day on future Earth for Zac Perryman, a history professor, when he’s unceremoniously escorted to a research and leisure facility, Luna City, on the moon. There, he learns his wife is missing, not long before explosions rock the Kepler Station above Earth and Earth itself.
With Earth nearly destroyed and the population decimated and in even graver danger, the survivors on the moon turn to Genesis, an incredibly advanced starship, to take them to a new home. But a power struggle between the head of the research facility, Dr.Wisecroft, and the captain of the ship begins,and promises to have long lasting effects.
Their new home, finally reached after spending over 3000 years unable to escape the pull of a rogue black hole, though, has them full of questions. Devoid of life, but appearing perfectly untouched and technologically advanced, the survivors end up in two camps, one who follows Zac and his friends and one that follows Dr. Wisecroft, who also hates Zac. But it’s just the beginning as they learn about their new home that holds more than food and shelter.
I too often lament that science fiction is too far over my head for me to properly enjoy it, though I’ll go to it over and over again. But The Stars That Beckon was such a delightful sci-fi read because it actually made sense! Well, it made more sense that all the other sci-fi I’ve read. Some of it was still a little too far afield for me, but the science actually made sense and felt completely plausible to me. It was explained in easy enough terms without feeling like it was dumbed down. I loved being able to sit back and enjoy the story.
The story wasn’t quite as exceptional and polished as Someone Else’s Life as it was more tell than show and the beginning was definitely more action-packed and exciting that the rest of the book, but it was still enjoyable. I also felt myself forgiving the quick gloss over events in between larger plot points and all the tell to make up for it since this is one massive story and reading a thousand pages just to get through the first book isn’t really something many readers want to invest in. I loved that the story was so massive and held so many things to find and figure out. There were so many threads all woven around a group of survivors learning how to re-create a functioning society. A little disappointing in execution, but the story is brilliant and the end leaves off with more questions and more adventures. There’s a tantalizing pull to the story that the tell parts actually help with as they often provide tidbits of information I desperately want to know more about. Like the end. I was completely not expecting the end.
A Rather Unique Group
The main characters of The Stars That Beckon were incredibly fun with unique personalities that somehow meshed really well. I loved that they were all given their own histories and let the circumstances they found themselves in and the relationships they ended up forming guide their development.
Zac, Kit, Martinez, Keo, Jasmine, and Melody form the bedrock of both the book and the survivors as a whole. The story focuses on them and the various important roles they fulfill as they make the new world their home. It was lovely to see them come together in the face of disaster and loss and form a really tight-knit group. They felt like a family, and I loved how they all rallied around orphaned Melody, creating a home, warmth, and love for her to thrive in. They were all so much fun, serious and humorous in turns, though I adored Keo’s perpetual laidbackness and loved watching Martinez’s serious exterior crack. I also loved the emotional depth between them. Being some of the only human survivors, they are inherently dependent on each other, especially to perpetuate the human race. I did feel some of the relationships came out of the blue and others felt a little too rushed, but I also understood it and their necessity.
A New World
Earth of the future as portrayed in The Stars That Beckon is one I hope never to have to see. It’s feels toxic and tainted and the zealous religious group, the Caliphate, at the heart of the destruction doesn’t help matters. It was fascinating to read how society had evolved between now and then, and also maybe hit a little too close to reality at times, but I’d really rather not be alive if that happens.
I was a little disappointed at not being able to explore Genesis more. It’s construction was fascinating and I really enjoyed the ships’s AI, but the characters spent most of their time either in cryogenic sleep or disembarked on their new planet. I always fear I’ll never understand how, exactly, starships might function, but Simington did an amazing job of not overwhelming the reader with needless details and instead just putting it into action.
The new world was fascinating. Similar to Earth, it felt familiar and alien at the same time. There’s a history to it and still more to be uncovered about it, but what is presented makes me think of a barren paradise. It seems perfect, almost too perfect, but it becomes home. I liked that there was plenty to explore as well as untold dangers lurking around. Watching the survivors learn to survive and make it home was fascinating. Sometimes I did wish it would be a little more action-packed, a little more like the beginning of the book, but I also liked how idyllic it felt and really enjoyed reading about how the survivors made it habitable for them. I also loved the pinpricks of something sinister I got the further I read and the more I learned.
A Well-Balanced Sci-Fi Novel
The Stars That Beckon is a fun science fiction read that manages to make the science understandable and seem perfectly logical. After an action-packed beginning, the rest almosts feels lackluster, but learning how the survivors survive and thrive was fascinating in it’s own way. The characters were fun and humorous in turns with streaks of seriousness that helped move things along. The settings were fresh and varied. Overall, a well-balanced book that presents an intriguing story, and start to the series, alongside fun characters, The Stars That Beckon is an accessible sci-fi book that perfectly balances the science and the fun.
How many cups of tea will you need?
4 cups should do
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Great if you enjoy: science fiction, destruction of Earth, life on other planets, a bit of mystery, adventure, light romance
Not great if you’re looking for: heavy science fiction, complex plots, action-packed novels, complex scientific ideas and principles
Thank you to the author, Kevin J. Simington, for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.