Title: Line And Orbit
Author: Sunny Moraine & Lisa Soem
Cover Art: Kanaxa
Amazon Link Buy Link Line and Orbit
Genre: gay alternate worlds
Length: Novel (391 pdf pages)
Rating: 5 out of 5 rating stars
Summary Review: A parable of timeless wisdom and eternal truths, wrapped up in a beautifully written, intriguing tale and painted in pictures so vibrant and colorful, they took me right out of my own time and space.
The Blurb: What he’s been taught to fear could be his destiny…and his only hope.
Adam Yuga, a rising young star in the imperialist Terran Protectorate, is on the verge of a massive promotion…until a routine physical exam reveals something less than perfection. Genetic flaws are taboo, and Adam soon discovers there’s a thin line between rising star and starving outcast.
Stripped of wealth and position, stricken with a mysterious, worsening illness, Adam resorts to stealing credits to survive. Moments from capture by the Protectorate, help arrives in the form of Lochlan, a brash, cocksure Bideshi fighter.
Now the Bideshi, a people long shunned by the Protectorate, are the only ones who will offer him shelter. As Adam learns the truth about the mysterious, nomadic people he was taught to fear, Lochlan offers him not just shelter—but a temptation Adam can only resist for so long.
Struggling to adapt to his new life, Adam discovers his illness hides a terrible secret, one that the Protectorate will stop at nothing to conceal. Time is growing short, and he must find the strength to close a centuries-old rift, accept a new identity—and hold on to a love that could cost him everything.
(publisher’s ) Product Warnings: This title contains brief scenes of explicit violence and mild but potentially triggering homophobia.
The Review: In the dystopian future of the Terran Protectorate, perfection is the norm. Humanity has found a way to fashion anything as desired: skin and eye color, build, looks, mental faculties. And health; above and beyond anything else, health is mandatory, whether you’re destined to be a mid-level, middle-class grunt or an elite high-achiever. But what if a condition, a “flaw”, remains undetectable until manifestation later in life? As anything less than perfect is just plain unthinkable in this world, such taints on the Protectorate’s Brave New World can’t be suffered; they have to disappear as quickly and quietly as possible.
This is what happens to Adam Yuga, one bred for the Protectorate’s elite. On the verge of his biggest success, he’s found flawed and done away with, an outcast, expected to meekly resign to his fate. But Adam wants to live, he fights to live, and since his breeding and training were aiming at making him the best, he perseveres longer than expected. Which makes him pop up on the radar of some Protectorate leaders who want to conceal the reality of the abovementioned flaws at all cost. Eventually, Adam finds refuge with the Bideshi, who are human but the very antithesis to anything the Protectorate values–and vice versa. And what started as the hunt for one weak, ill man turns into a fratricidal war the outcome of which could be the end of the Bideshi–or even, the annihilation of mankind.
This book was a revelation of beauty and a delight to read for me on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start. Working inward from the outside on, the first thing that caught my eye was the creative worldbuilding.[spoiler name=”spoiler”] I couldn’t help thinking someone must’ve told these authors ‘But… but you just can’t have forests and lakes and such on a spaceship!’ and they’d gone like ‘Huh? Why the hell not, now?’ and taken the idea and actually made it work [/spoiler]
As a reader, I felt lead into these worlds rather than having them presented to me. Together with Adam, the main viewpoint character, I walked the glittering, chiseled architectural Protectorate environment with natural familiarity, and explored the earthy, organic, mysterious randomness of the Bideshi ships alongside him. Other characters’ viewpoints provided different mindsets and views so that in the end I had a rounded, complete impression of this universe without once having information dumped on me.
Speaking of characters: As this book is, at least on the surface, mainly about Adam, he’s the best-wrought out character in here. Even though the cast is numerous, most of the secondary players are just as colorful and muti-dimensional as Adam each recognizable and unique. Surprisingly, of all people Lochlan remained somewhat of a mystery to me, a bit distant and difficult to take to, but that might be only me. However, the most interesting character and the one who almost stole the show from the leads was Ixchel, the Bideshi mother-ship’s all-mother, a blind woman who sees deeply into the mysteries of the universe and the human soul.
This story wasn’t quite a romance. The main love interests Adam and Lochlan didn’t have much of a connection until well past the halfway point, and the plot wasn’t really about their relationship at all. If I were to put a genre label on this, I’d call it sci-fi with strong (high) fantasy elements. But actually, at the core this was a visually stunning new rendering of the resurrection myth, the oldest story in the world, interwoven and layered with other familiar, timeless concepts like the bitterness of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, expulsion from Paradise, fratricide… for its tale’s epic proportions, this book was actually quite short. 😉
However, this wasn’t a perfect book, and I’m not blind to its flaws. The plot had inconsistencies, mainly in regard to character’s motives and behavior, which made the narrative flow a bit potholed at times; and while the worldbuilding was extensive, some elements still required a lot of suspension of disbelief (in the “fiction needs to make sense” sense.) With all the meaningful deeper meaning, the actual events of the story paled a bit, which also had the narrative flow lagging in places. Though, while reading, I was so engrossed in the story that those issues didn’t actually bother me much, and only in hindsight, with a bit of distance to the book’s powerful eloquence it occurred to me that this story might’ve tried a bit too hard.
And still, what a ride. Easy fare this book is not, but if you’re willing to let yourself sink into its magic, you’re in for an amazing reading experience.