Review: Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon (with footnotes)
I’ve been wanting to check out this series since I heard Kay Kenyon interviewed on Adventures in SciFi Publishing, so when I got off my butt and started reading again, Bright of the Sky was the first book I picked up. Physically (1) the book is gorgeous. Particularly the cover by Stephan Martiniere. This is the first book in a
trilogy tetralogy, the 3rd of which, City without End was just released in hardcover in February.
Starting from the first sentence (which could have been pulled straight out of Star Trek), Kenyon gives us a whirlwind tour of science fiction. We have a space station, with a quantum computer, near a black hole, which is part of a galaxy spanning network of tunnels owned by a giant corporation. We’re introduced to our main character, a star ship pilot that could have been much more, now a crazy hermit playing with model trains. Kenyon artfully uses the standards of science fiction to quickly establish a space faring human empire. This is then used as the foundation for the premise (2), an exploration of a landlocked universe traveling through ours. One with no flowers. bummer. I’m highly impressed by how well I can visualize the Entire after reading Bright of the Sky
Most of the novel is dedicated to following Titus Quinn (our crazy pilot) as he returns to an impossible land that he can barely remember. Short shifts of PoV to his daughter, the executives that financed his trip, and some of the power players in the Entire help flesh out the world. The flow of the narrative and the interplay between the characters feels very much like an epic fantasy set in a variation of Confucian China, but the underlying science fiction is only ever a few pages away.
The story is driven by strong and well developed characters, but the ideas are big and hit pretty close to home. There’s an overarching theme of transportation. The blackholes that are currently used to cross immense distances quickly are only barely stable. The Entire, this “other place” where time flows differently and which randomly intersect our universe, seems like a viable detour. In the Entire, we experience travel by pack animal, magical trains and boats, blimps, blimp-like creatures, multi-dimensional enslaved entities, and foot. But themes of transportation (as they do in the news) quickly lead to themes of energy, and the mysteries of the “Entire” will provide much thought in that direction. The book wraps up nicely, but is unquestionably the first in a series, introducing universe changing dilemmas as the only answers to the big mysteries. I’m kinda glad I picked this up when I did, so that I can dive right into A World Too Near.
The footnotes (3):
- I find myself marveling again and again at how well put together this trade paperback from Pyr is. I got a stack of books from my parents for my 30th birthday. All of them were trade paperbacks, but construction of each was drastically different. The paper in this one is acid free and perfectly weighted. The smell, the size, pretty much everything about this make it one of the best trade paperbacks I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding.
- I loved Farscape. I’m a Jim Henson fan-boy, so this should come as no surprise. The story of an astronaut from basically our time getting thrown across the universe into a VERY alien environment offered a rich canvas to paint many wonderful stories. In the case of the Entire and the Rose, it looks like we’ll have a Space Opera standard, the super smart pilot, get thrown into an equally alien environment and I have high hopes.
- What’s with the footnotes? I tend to have thoughts as I read a book before I’m ready to write a review that don’t REALLY fit into the final review, and instead of just telling them to my fiancee over and over, I decided to record some for posterity. I wrote the footnotes, except for this one, multiple days before the rest of the review. Feel free to let me know if it adds or detracts from the review.