Harper Voyager | 2018 (23 August) | 561p | Bought copy | Buy the book
A few days ago I read, devoured and absolutely adored Noumenon by Marina J Lostetter. I immediately went out and bought its sequel, Noumenon Infinity. Hours of spellbound reading ensued. So I can now report that Infinity is not only every bit as good as Noumenon, it is even better. It takes all of those elements of the first book that I loved so much and gives them that extra twist, that extra push – enhancing its sense of wonder to such a degree that I could not put Infinity down. Having said all that, Infinity completes the two-part story begun with Noumenon and so you most certainly won’t want to read it without having read Noumenon first. This review assumes that you’ve had the pleasure and that you don’t mind hearing a little about what has gone on before. If you haven’t read Noumenon yet then STOP what you’re doing and read it right now!
Noumenon Infinity begins where Noumenon left off, with the start of a new voyage by Convoy Seven, still crewed by our familiar set of clones but now with a few new faces to get to know. As they head back to the Web and the Seed, they will learn more about these enigmatic and immense artifacts. And they will be tested to the very limit of what they can endure as the legacy of the past and their responsibility for the future threaten to overwhelm them.
But now we have a second convoy to follow – the mysterious Convoy Twelve, which, launched around the same time as Convoy Seven on its original voyage, disappeared without trace. Now we will learn the truth about what happened to this crew which was never intended to stray far from Earth. And what they have discovered will change everything.
I’m saying no more than that but how I want to because we are taken here into unknown starry distant space territory that cries out for me to shout about it. Both storylines, which alternate throughout this thankfully praise the stars substantial book, are equally brilliant and brilliantly different from one another. Two perspectives of wondrous things and I couldn’t have been more gripped if I tried.
We know some of these characters very well by now, even though we have met them in their different incarnations. We’re so fond of the AI who now is so ancient she is the repository of almost everything in human history. As the personalities evolve, the significance of their past lives grows more important than ever. This is a novel about legacy and identity. But above all else, in my opinion, it is about being an explorer. What drives people to explore the unknown at immense risk to themselves? What drives humanity on? Where are we all heading? What is the alternative to exploration? And if we do explore, where are we actually going? Does it matter if we don’t get there ourselves if our hundred times removed descendent does instead? And what do we do when we get there? So many questions and they’re the biggest questions.
And then you can throw in all those other things I love about science fiction set among the stars – spaceships, distant planets, alien artefacts, AIs, people adapting to life aboard a generation starship, bloodcurdling terror, love, the unknown. All of it described so beautifully and evocatively, with humour and sensitivity, by Marina J. Lostetter, an author who can do no wrong in my eyes.
So now that this mini-series of two books is complete and on the shop shelves, do yourselves a favour and read it. Just like the best of Peter F. Hamilton, these are novels to which I’ll return and I can’t wait to see where Marina J. Lostetter’s imagination will take her – and us – next.