In the author’s debut sci-fi novel, inhabiting another planet with intelligent life may be the solution for saving humanity, if a small group of university students can survive.
Thirteen-year-old Evelyn Feelds is sent to university for five years and may be included in an expedition to Elpída. The Earth is dying and Elpída might be fit for human habitation. Evelyn is a prime candidate since the voices she’s been hearing in her head belong to Elpída-dwelling beings known as the Multitude. The teenager and a small group of children awaken from a 20-year-long voyage to Elpída hoping the Multitude can save humanity. But the situation grows dire almost immediately when one of the human passengers goes rogue and tries to incite a revolution. Huntington’s book is more often abstract than visual; for example, the Multitude are bodiless and exist primarily as voices. The Multitude, however, can be made tangible. Though they are collective and refer to one another as “We” or “Us,” single beings telepathically communicate with one chosen individual. Many opportunities for physical descriptions are neglected—Elpída’s “peach-streaked sky” is one of its few detailed images—but the characters are largely isolated at an underground school without much opportunity for scenic description. There’s surprisingly little story considering the novel’s length of more than 600 pages, but there’s also no doubting Huntington’s chops as a wordsmith: “pinpricks of stars fade with stoic solemnity, as do the faint curvatures of rings.” Certain story elements, which fire the imagination, aren’t given enough time to develop. The L. Ron Hubbard–esque William Hersenen, for example, who’s convinced humans that Elpída is ideal for starting over, has little back story. And the narrative notes that Evelyn’s brother, Mark, is blamed for instigating a devastating war on Earth, but it reveals little about Mark’s fate after the students travel to the other planet. Huntington, though, lays just enough groundwork for readers to develop their own theories about the characters’ pasts and wonder about their futures.
Steers clear of the traditional visually rich sci-fi style, but is so strong in concept that it’s bound to linger in readers’ minds.