A gripping story in which travelers to a distant world grapple with new people, new ideas, and ancient obsessions.
Saraswati Callicot is a Waster—a scientist who spends her life traveling light-years from home to explore new worlds, leaping across decades in an instant, stepping in and out of the flow of ordinary human time. Her latest mission is her farthest, and strangest, trip yet: she’s traveled 58 light-years to explore a new planet surrounded by dark matter and secretly observe her crewmate Thora Lassiter, a member of the interplanetary elite who was embroiled in a religious uprising on the planet Orem. But when Sara, Thora, and their colleagues arrive in orbit around the planet known as Iris, nothing is as it seems—not the uninhabited, light-filled plane, not the bizarre, bewildering phenomenon they come to call a forest, not even the brutal murder of one of the crew. Like the best science fiction, this book raises cosmic questions about how the human mind grapples with something totally new and how we can be sure we know anything—even, or especially, ourselves. But those questions are woven into a tight, mystery-driven narrative whose pace never flags. Gilman (Ison of the Isles, 2012, etc.) has created a breathtakingly strange new world, and she’s populated it with vivid, compelling characters.
A thoroughly engrossing story with a fast-paced plot, memorable characters, and big ideas, this book is science fiction at its very best.