A long-lost battleship and an arranged marriage may hold the key to faster-than-light travel and humanity’s future in R.W.W. Greene’s debut The Light Years
Hisako Saski was born with her life already mapped out. In exchange for an education, better housing for her family, and a boost out of poverty, she’s been contracted into an arranged marriage to Adem Sadiq, a maintenance engineer and amateur musician who works and lives aboard his family's sub-light freighter, the Hajj.
Hisako is not happy with the deal. The arcane branch of physics it requires her to study broke off a thousand years before, and she is not keen on the idea of giving up everything she knows to marry a stranger and move onto an aging spaceship.
Onboard the Hajj, Hisako soon learns her dilemmas are overshadowed by the discovery of ancient secrets, a derelict warship, and a chance at giving the survivors of Earth a fresh start.
File Under: Science Fiction [ E=mc2 | Happy wife, Happy life | Marital Bliss | Light Years Away ]
The toll difficult moral choices take on families is the core conflict of this clever far-future debut from Greene. In the 33rd century, wealthy Traders travel space while the poor struggle to survive planetside. Trader Adem Sadiq enters an arranged marriage with faster than light worm-drive technology expert Hisako Saski at the urging of his mother, Maneera. Hisako's parents agree to the marriage contract that gives Hisako money in exchange for studying supposedly obsolete worm-drive technology and a two-year stay on her future husband's starship. Life aboard the luxurious starship is intercut with flashbacks to Hisako's early life, as she grows bitter at the realization that her newfound privilege as a Trader comes at the cost of her freedom. Meanwhile, the Saskis struggle with their choice to give up their daughter, and Maneera cooks up larger plans for Hisako than just to be a match for her son; she needs Hisako's knowledge in order to integrate a worm-drive into the starship to make it the fastest in the galaxy. Sophisticated worldbuilding and diverse, emotionally-resonant characters make Greene an author to watch.