by Marina J. Lostetter
Cover Artist: Steven Messing
Review by Mel Jacob
Harper Voyager Trade Paperback / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062497840
Date: 01 August 2017 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Noumenon offers a multi-generational space saga of discovery, ingenuity, and return stretching over space and time that leaves many questions unanswered. Difficulties, dissension, and differences pave the way to potential disaster. Can the crew remain focused on its objective, reach the distant object, and return with new knowledge to Earth?
The Earth's governing body decides to fund twelve scientific projects to explore the galaxy or specific aspects of it. One such project consists of seven linked ships intended to provide a human habitat to enable its crew to reach a distant star with a strange anomaly that might signify alien life. The crew will consist of clones of multiple people who are directing the project and have the skills needed.
The clones that will form the initial crew are created and educated in the necessary skills for the voyage. Work on building the linked ships for the journey proceeds apace. Finally, all is ready and the crews board. The designers watch as the monumental voyage begins
On the long journey, they lose one of the ships but are able to adapt and continue the mission. The essential crew members survive. Too soon, they lose the ability to contact Earth and are isolated.
During the multi-generation journey, new clones will be added and old clones of the same type will be retired to keep the population balanced. No more will two of the same clones exist at the same time. This works well for many generations, but eventually, causes a problem and resistance on the part of some crew members. The struggle that ensues threatens to destroy the project.
Lostetter humanizes the crew, their struggles, and the difficulties of the journey. The A.I. remains a guardian and essential to running the ship. It also becomes a friend to some of the crew. Because clones are used, names may differ, but personalities and proclivities remain essential close to the originals.
Others have explored long-distance space travel. However, Lostetter provides a different view from most and focuses on character interactions including the almost human A.I. Her focus is on people oriented interactions and the differences that can occur in the functioning of an isolated society.