To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

As someone who doesn’t read a plethora of science fiction books, it has been a while since I have read anything like Christopher Paolini’s latest release, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. While I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book while browsing at the library, this title has been on my to-read list since it was announced due to my love of the Inheritance Cycle series, a fantasy tetralogy Paolini began writing at the age of fifteen. For anyone who has read Paolini or enjoys a good space opera, I assure you that this title will not disappoint!

Taking place in a future in which humans have established colonies on planets beyond Earth, this story revolves around Kira Navárez, a xenobiologist who studies new planets to gauge their habitability for human life and future societies. While Kira is truly passionate about studying and discovering new worlds, she and her fiancé, Alan, decide they want to begin a life of their own together in one of the established colonies. They plan to marry and settle down after their last mission on Adrasteia, an Earth-sized moon they had been surveying for a few months. Just before this mission ends, however, Kira stumbles upon an alien relic that quite literally transforms her life and world. Soon afterward, she finds herself in the middle of an intergalactic war in which she becomes humanity’s greatest hope for surviving in the face of a violent extraterrestrial species.

While this book is full of aliens and space travel and warfare, as well as a string of catastrophic events that never seems to end, this book was also full of introspection and camaraderie, capturing the true resiliency and depth of what it means to be human. I will admit that this book was intense – definitely more so than Eragon and the rest of the Inheritance Cycle series, but it truly was out of this world (pun fully intended!). It was both exhilarating and humbling to find myself lost among the stars alongside the unforgettable characters in this story. Another neat aspect of this novel was the obvious research Paolini did to familiarize himself with the scientific background of space travel and space itself. While some of the explanations went right over my head (physics class was a long time ago), it was still interesting and didn’t detract from the story at all.

Additionally, according to Paolini’s website, this book is the first of many in the Fractalverse series and it is slated to become a movie, scripted by Paolini himself. While I find that movies rarely do their respective books justice I am, nevertheless, excited at the prospect of losing myself in this story on the big screen.

Overall, I cannot wait for the rest of the series to be released and would highly recommend this book! Despite its nearly 900 pages in length, I flew through the story and didn’t want it to end upon reaching the last page.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Book on CD

Overdrive eAudiobook

Overdrive eBook

Playaway

Spanish text

Firefly

As a pretty big fan of sci-fi TV and movies, I am embarrassed that it took me this long to watch Joss Whedon’s critically-acclaimed and short-lived TV series Firefly.  For those who are unfamiliar with it, Firefly is a 14-episode sci-fi series documenting the travels and missions of the spaceship Serenity.  It is set about 500 years in the future when humans have relocated to a new star system controlled by a group of central planets called The Alliance.  Though a band of rebels try to overthrow the corrupt Alliance, they are defeated and The Alliance remains in power.  In the pilot episode we meet Serenity’s captain Mal Reynolds and his second-in-command Zoe, who were on the losing side of the war with The Alliance and now take odd jobs (mostly smuggling) to get by.  The rest of the crew is a compelling cast of characters including adorable mechanic Kaylee, professional companion Inara, and pilot Wash.  To make some extra money the crew picks up some folks willing to pay for transport, including a preacher and a doctor with very mysterious cargo.

Being a unique hybrid of sci-fi and western, Firefly is like nothing else I’ve watched before, and that’s one thing I really love about it.  Despite the futuristic technology, the planets on the outer rim of the new star system (where the outlaw crew of Serenity spend most of their time) aren’t as well-off as the core Alliance planets, so they have a very rustic Old West look and feel.  But my favorite thing about this show is probably the characters.  There are nine very different members of the Serenity crew, and I can’t possibly pick a favorite or a least favorite because they’re all compelling and interesting in their own way.  Firefly was unfortunately cancelled before fans could get answers to a lot of the biggest questions of the series, including the full backstory of the show’s most mysterious character: crazy genius River Tam, who was experimented on at the hands of The Alliance.  But luckily for us, fans of the show rallied and a follow-up movie was made called Serenity, which serves as a very satisfying conclusion to an incredible series.