Aliens from different worlds meet and fall in love, their interactions leading to a tour of the rich, riotous universe of Lanethros.
Imagine if Dr. Seuss had put down his drawing pen and expressed himself in free-form sci-fi/fantasy prose, the manuscript largely undivided by chapters and even more Seussian than usual. Such is the sensibility of this kickoff to an intended series, defined by author Sills in the introduction as a “cosmic comedy” and puzzle. The title is the name of a universe, created (we are told) in a lover’s spat between two immense transcendent beings. And it’s a smaller-scale (but still planet-hopping) love story that constitutes the nearest thing to a plotline. In Lanethros, a horselike (but with antennae) interstellar traveler named Surooval makes a romance connection with Norma, a multidimensional shellfish-esque native of a new world he is visiting. Their tête-à-tête (assuming these creatures even have tetes) sets off a bumper-car reaction of circular dialogues between all kinds of life-forms—animal and vegetable and digital. Much of their talk is in twee poetry: “A war is a bore, and besides it’s a chore, no war” and “She is the daughter of the trees. She knows the bees. And when she says please, she lives as she sees.” Between that and punny sketches of imaginary flora and fauna and cultures and environments, it’s a challenge for the reader to detect any sort of forward momentum in the narrative, though the author promises some answers (and a cross-species wedding for Surooval and Norma) in the next volume. Sills writes that his intent is to create a sense of a teeming universe where humanity is a paltry bit player and where other intelligent life has every right to look, think and behave differently. The opposite, say, of the Star Trek “infinite diversity in infinite combinations” trope wherein peoplelike ETs just have pointier ears or lumpier foreheads. Fair enough, though this one takes exoticism well past Vulcans and Klingons.
More rhymes than reasons in a quirky sci-fi tour of parts unknown.