My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From time immemorial, humanity has sought the secret to longevity and, ultimately, immortality. But what happens if you find that secret? Who does it belong to?
Sherry D. Ramsay’s novel explores that very subject with a compelling story that blends drama with ethics.
Luta Paixon, Captain of the starship Tane Ikai,is over ninety years old, but doesn’t look a day over thirty. Even with existing rejuvenation technology, this is extraordinary. Luta thinks she’s had a little genetic help along the way and that’s why she’s been looking for her biogeneticist mother, who disappeared when Luta was a teenager, as a source of explanation. Even if she’s been searching for fifty years without success, Luta is convinced her mother is still alive and could provide those answers.
When she hears a rumour that her mother was sighted on a distant planet, it leads Luta across the galaxy in yet another attempt to find her. This time, though, she’s accompanied by her dying husband and her resentful daughter and plagued by PrimeCorp who wants to study her. Her trek through the galaxy leads her to love, family, discovery and the big question: what would be the consequences if everyone lived forever?
Even though the subtext of the novel is weighty, Ramsay succeeds in leading us to the end seemingly without effort, thanks in part to her well-rounded characters. Luta, despite being a tough, no-nonsense ship captain, has the qualities and flaws that make her struggle with being a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a leader. The rest of the cast is interesting and real, each with a distinct personality and his or her own secrets.
The narrative flows smoothly, allowing the reader to focus on the people in the story, even though the technology sometimes seems a bit arcane for someone who knows little about space. The ethical questions she poses makes the reader think and takes this novel beyond space opera: this is speculative fiction at its best.