by C.A. Higgins
Cover Artist: Woman by Lia Koltyrina / Shutterstock;
Starfield by Clearviewstock / Shutterstock
Review by Mel Jacob
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553394450
Date: 26 July 2016 List Price $27.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Supernova by C.A. Higgins is a sequel to Lightless and features many of the same characters. The Huntress, Constance, returns and continues her war on the System, the controlling government of the solar system. The sentient spaceship Ananke and her caretaker/engineer Althea reappear. The tone is dark and the ending terrifying or depressing, depending on the fate of major characters.
The novel opens with Constance and her crew attacking and destroying System (the controlling government based on Earth) greenhouses on Pallas thus assuring the deaths of those dependent on them. After Pallas, she takes on System posts on Mars. Colonists there join her.
The novel shifts back and forth between Constance and Althea and between the past and the present. Flashbacks reveal more about certain characters and events from Lightless showing the situation before Constance's destruction of Earth and then the aftermath. Interpersonal relationships and competing philosophies take center stage. The big questions are when will Constance stop her path of destruction and whether a sentient spaceship can go mad enough to destroy all those considered enemies including humans.
The focus of Supernova is primarily on emotions and character motivations with technology forming a backdrop, but it is not important in shaping the story except for the evolving nature of Ananke. Even then the focus is on the equivalent of human emotion in a sentient machine. What constitutes betrayal and of whom or what is also important, especially with shifting alliances. It also raises the question of Pyrrhic victories.
Lightless was issued as the first volume of a trilogy. With the ending of Supernova and the deaths of certain characters, the reader may wonder what's left. However, the fate of all characters has not been resolved. So far, Higgins has shown what happens when humans pursue goals with unwavering fanaticism and a self-aware machine has gained the ability to control other machines. The appearance of an explosion as brilliant as a supernova at the end is ambiguous and could be many things. Its meaning may be explained in the next installment.