Humanity’s super-intelligent AI Gods brutally punish breaches in reality, as one young scientist discovers, in this intense and brilliant space opera.
Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy – if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor. With her homeworld’s fate in the balance, Yasira must choose who to trust: the gods and their ruthless post-human angels, or the rebel scientist whose unorthodox mathematics could turn her world inside out.
File Under: Science Fiction [ False Gods | Angel Inside | Autistic in Space | Here be Monsters ]
Cosmic horror, grad school politics, and neuroatypicality meet in Hoffmann's gripping debut, a 28th-century technotheocratic space thriller that blossoms with hope. The Shien Reactor is autistic physicist Yasira Shien's crowning achievement: power for the first human-built space station in a universe where soul-collecting AI gods hoard any technology more advanced than vacuum tubes. When the reactor's reality-destabilizing failure hints at interference from Yasira's vanished graduate supervisor, Dr. Evianna Talirr, she is forcibly recruited by Akavi Averis, a prickly inquisitor serving Nemesis, god of heretics, to bring Dr. Talirr to justice. But tracking Dr. Talirr into the physics-defying Outside risks Yasira's sanity and forces her to decide for herself which "abnormal" lives are worth living. Hoffmann confidently layers morality and disability rights into a breezily told adventure that bursts with sheer fun. Yasira's autistic qualities benefit her without being treated like superpowers, and her grumpy sincerity convinces readers that, even in the direst circumstances, the gently "hacked-together" future is worth saving. This beautifully smart, uncynical space opera will charm fans of Charles Stross and Lois McMaster Bujold.