Starglass – sci fi for beginners.

September 14, 2013 § 2 Comments

Starglass Cover Art

Phoebe North’s Starglass

Imagine that you have never set foot on a planet. Imagine that your entire world is a human construct, designed as a long-lived but ultimately temporary means of transportation to a new life. Imagine that the world of your ancestors is long-dead, and that you, and everyone you ever knew, were cast into space, one of humanity’s few opportunities to survive the end of Earth.

Try and get your head around the requirements and qualities of a society which is completely and utterly contained within a ship. Consider what it would take to keep such a huge piece of spacecraft running. What sort of jobs would be required of its inhabitants? How would you get allocated to a role? What happens if you’re no good at it, or you hate it? Where does food come from? Where do you live? How does this affect your mentality?

Perusing the stacks and stacks of unread books in my mini-library, I picked up my copy of Starglass on a whim, shucked its dust jacket and cracked the first page. Within ten minutes, I was suspended in space, along with the passengers of Asherah.

For the next twelve hours, I could not put this book down. I mean this in a very literal sense. I was wandering around my house with the book in front of my face, a cup of tea sloshing precariously around in my other hand, in a vain attempt to get something productive done. Alas, all I really succeeded in doing was getting lost in the pages of this surprising novel.

To Zaheva and beyond...

To Zaheva and beyond…

Terra is a part of the standard family unit, the female child of an allocated pair of boy and girl. Her father is a clock-keeper and her mother died when she was twelve. With her brother now living in his own quarters with his wife, Terra is left alone with her alcoholic father. She’s been separated from her friends and allocated a profession she never expected to have. She’s content to find herself betrothed to her father’s apprentice, but she’s not ecstatic about it. She expected her engagement to be a source of happiness, but it’s mediocrity at best. She’s been miserable for a while, but the impending arrival of the Asherah on the planet Zeheva gets her through every day. That is, until the day that she witnesses the brutal murder of the ship’s librarian.
This changes everything for Terra. She finds herself embroiled within a revolution, and she’s not sure which side has her true loyalty. Meanwhile, the Asherah is hurtling toward Zehava – time is running out for the revolution to take action, and time is running out for Terra to choose a side.

If you’re a sci-fi novice like me, Starglass might be an excellent way to ease yourself into the genre. Although I’m fine with fantasy, I feel as though there’s something inherently intimidating about sci-fi. I’ve tried a few sci-fi novels, and even enjoyed a couple, but there’s been some kind of block stopping me from properly becoming a fan of the genre in general. So, broaching it from a YA perspective allowed me to immerse myself in a sci-fi setting without worrying that it would be overly complex.

Up until recently, this was about the extent of my SF exposure...

Up until recently, this was about the extent of my SF exposure…

If you’re a YA snob, unlike me, don’t be put off by the fact that this book has a teenage protagonist. And don’t go thinking that you don’t need to read this because you’ve read other current YA stuff. Starglass is different; it’s a genre-buster.  Until I was about halfway through Starglass, I figured I knew exactly where it was going. Don’t get me wrong, I was thoroughly enjoying it. I just didn’t think it would stray from the traditional love-triangle, girl-revolutionary sort of storyline. Boy, was I wrong. The second half of the book explodes with action, and just about every chapter contains an unexpected twist.

Last night, I headed into Pulp Fiction in Brisbane City to (once again) harass the trustworthy staff for a recommendation. I walked out with John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, to which I am dedicating the majority of my Saturday. So we’ll see, readers. Maybe my love for Starglass is the beginning of a beautiful relationship with the sci-fi genre. Watch this space, I may become a Trekkie yet.

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