I got an ARC of Neogenesis from a contact over at Baen Books who was looking for reviews. It is written by the husband and wife duo Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.
The book falls somewhere on the Space Opera spectrum with some leanings into hard SF. I enjoyed the book, although it took me a little bit to get into it. Partly that is because the SF universe that they write in is so expansive that some of what they were writing about may have taken me a little extra time to wade in and understand. The first moment that I really connected was late in the first chapter when Ren Zel resisted the temptations of the addiction he knew he’d eventually succumb to—and that’s what space opera is all about: internal character struggle.
The universe is big (even if this particular book deals mostly with the backwater planet of Surebleak. Of course, planets like Tatooine are the perfect sorts of places to do acts and take refuge away from prying eyes.
It does have a certain flair that harkens back to the golden age of SF/Space Opera and has overtures of writing that feels very much like James H Schmitz (Telzey and Trigger stories,) whose name was virtually synonymous with Space Opera in the 50s and 60s. Of course, the stories aren’t trapped in an archaic sense of what future tech would look like, but the same feeling is present.
I’m not too keen on the cover art, but then again, do you remember the godawful covers on anything SF from the 70s through the early 90s. It’s a nonissue for the most part since the series has a very solid following, so don’t let that stop you.
If you’re looking for well-established new space series to delve into, the Liaden Universe might be a great spot. You can learn more about it by checking out the authors online. You can check out the book by clicking here.