Dystopia/Utopian tales and Generational ships are a staple of science fiction. And, they tend to follow the same path: After some “bad event” a group of people find out the truth about their “lives” and rebel against the faction in charge. Along the way the event is revealed, several lies are uncovered and depending on the author sets up the book for a sequel.
Across the Universe, written by Beth Revis takes place on a generation ship called the Godsend that is traveling from Earth to closest inhabited star to colonize. The signal from Earth has long since been lost and the ship is split up into sections each with their own task. One day one of the cryotubes is opened by accident and our story begins.
Beth splits the point of view between our two protagonists. One protagonist is named Elder and has been spoon fed the kool aid on board the Godsend. He’s also next in line to lead once Eldest, his predecessor dies or steps down. The other is named Amy and she is our fish out of water, from her bright hair to smarts she is someone Eldest despises the moment she is introduced to him. And, for the most part the split narrative works out quite well when the two are separated from each other so the plot moves along. The chapters are short and the descriptions are easy to read and those not into science fiction can breath a sigh of relief since the techno babble is kept to under Star Trek: TNG levels.
I have a fondness for dystopian/utopian themes like the one presented in Across the Universe, I’m reading Dust by Elizabeth Bear as well and the two books are different enough to be enjoyable. Elizabeth stretches out the world while the plot in Across the Universe never reaches Time Machine/James Bond-ian set pieces because the story is kept small and claustrophobic. Our heroes and their antagonist are stuck together on the ship from the beginning to the end and the action doesn’t stretch on long enough to flip pages. In fact, the only downside I can think of is it might have been too small since the nemesis while revealed never got chance to grow as a character. Unfortunately, giving the antagonist his own chapter(s) would have revealed his identity but I think it could have been pulled off.
Overall, I enjoyed it and recommend it.
The other downside is purely nitpicky on my part: you see that fancy map in the middle of this post? Some form of that map is on the reverse side of the hardcover slip cover.
Guess where it is on the iBook version? If you said nowhere, you would be correct!
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