Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Review: Noumenon by Marina J. Lostetter

I found this book...disappointing.

Like too many short story writers making the jump to novel length, Lostetter tells her story in a series of chunks. For the type of story it is that would work well, but she needed to smooth out her transitions. Noumenon is, to be blunt, a little choppy.

That, though, is not the biggest problem. Lostetter has chosen for her plotline something novel - a generation ship built not to colonize but to research a distant solar system and return to Earth with its results. And she crews her ship with carefully chosen and prepared clones.

It's a fascinating idea and she does a decent job of extrapolating the sociological ramifications of, well, crewing your ship with clones. Of determining jobs and aptitudes purely based off of DNA. Spoiler: It doesn't go well.

Then we get close to the end and it all falls apart.

Spoiler: Lostetter handles the changes on the convoy fine. But her extrapolation of events on Earth is...

...poor. Not to mention coming over as an indictment of sociological changes that I believe are not going to be nearly the problem she claims.

I'm not going to say which ones because that would be too much of a spoiler.

It's a shame, because her idea is fascinating, and while she does not do the job of exploring nature vs nurture that Cherryh does in Cyteen (a far more experienced writer), she handles it in a way that reminds us humans will never actually change.

Just that ending.

And no.

I just don't see any plausibility in what she postulates whatsoever. Which means I can't give this book much of a recommendation, I'm afraid.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Reviews are highly subjective and most of the book is just fine. She brilliantly gets around the question of "who narrates a story that lasts two thousand years" and her characters are great.

But a poor ending can ruin an otherwise good book.