“To Sleep in a Sea of Stars” by Christopher Paolini, New York : Tor, 2020. 878 pp.
Kira Navárez loved her life as a xenobiologist on advanced research teams dedicated to determining if planets are suitable for terraforming and habitation. On the last day of their current project, Kira is sent to investigate a last minute problem with one of the exploration drones. What should have been an insignificant, broken drone leads Kira to discovering an unnatural formation that bodes further exploration.
Awakening from cryo-status at least a month later, Kira cannot remember what happened after she fell into a hole around the alien formation. Finding out that her discovery has made the planet and the whole system off limits for colonization is a blow, as it negates the past months of work and the team’s chances of getting their bonuses. But when one of Kira’s teammates begins to show symptoms after getting an all clear health assessment from their testing, Kira’s fear spikes and causes a physical reaction of her own. Once again waking up in a new location, this time Kira is faced with the memories of an alien biological element erupting from her body and attacking her teammates.
Her new reality is looking like forced imprisonment as the property of the UMC for further experimentation, as she is now the unwilling host to what appears to be an alien bodysuit that coats her from head to foot with the exclusion of her face. But when the ship she’s being held on is attacked, with the help of her new alien companion, she is able to escape her captivity and the attacking aliens. Are these aliens the creators of the suit she finds herself inside? Have they come to claim it back? What will that mean for her?
“To Sleep in a Sea of Stars” follows Kira on her journey as the instrument of first contact with aliens hundreds of years after humanity has expanded beyond their planetary restrictions and capitalized on the colonization of the stars. The established history of space exploration and colonization was an interesting and integral part of the plot, combined with Kira’s quest to utilize her new alien bio-suit to help in a galaxy-wide war. The characters Kira encounters and the intricacies of the alien bio-suit make for a wonderful story that captures the imagination. A wonderful re-introduction to the author of the Inheritance series (Eragon) that is very much a science fiction space odyssey of epic proportions. This is one world that could very easily become the bases for many novels throughout the star systems and populated colonies.
Susana Goldman is the Director of the Alamance County Public Libraries. She can be reached at (336) 513-4753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.