Amazon Blurb:

The captain of a family-owned starship arranges a marriage for her son in hopes of achieving faster-than-light travel and maybe, just maybe, marital bliss.

Before Hisako Saski is even born, her parents make a deal on her behalf. In exchange for a first-class education and a boost out of poverty, Hisako will marry Adem Sadiq, a maintenance engineer and self-styled musician who works the trade lanes aboard his family’s sub-light starship, the Hajj.

Hisako is not happy when she finds out about the plan. She has little interest in the broken branch of physics the deal requires her to study, and is not keen on the idea of giving up her home and everything she knows to marry a stranger.

Sparks fly when Adem and Hisako meet, but their personal issues are overshadowed by the discovery of long-held secrets and a chance at faster-than-light travel.

File Under: Science Fiction [ E=mc2 – Happy wife, Happy life – Marital Bliss – Light Years Away ]

The Light Years will be available on February 11, 2020. Preorder now!

Quote:

“It’s not just a word,” she said. “You are not shit. Our daughter is not shit.”
“It takes shit to make flowers,” Joao said, “and my life is a garden full of them.”

Review:

This is not a romance.

Perhaps most of my disappointment in The Light Years was wrapped up in that simple sentence. This is not a romance, and the blurb made it sound that at least some of the book would be devoted to romance. In reality, maybe only 5% was devoted to that concept.

There are two characters that share screen time. Adem Sadiq is a a technician aboard the trade ship, Hajj,and the son of the ship’s captain, Maneera Sadiq. He cares for the others he meets, and has a heart of gold. Just incredibly kind and good natured, and is more willing to help others than help himself. For fun, he likes recording old Earth songs and releasing them into space for others to find, though he would never even think of advertising it. He likes his life, he is very content.

Hisako Saski is the woman that Adem’s mother bought him as a wife before she was even born. Yes, you read that correctly. Hisako starts off a child, and we learn about her world, Gaul, through her. She learns from an early age she is destined to become married to an spaceman and that she will one day have to go away and leave her parents behind and they will grow old and die while she stays the nearly same. Due to this, Hisako grows up to be combative and standoffish. She doesn’t really like authority. And she really, really does not like that some outsiders paid for everything and she still suffers on a world full of people going hungry and dying in poor labor conditions while she is going to a rich school and never has to worry about food.

Gaul is not a thriving place. It is a hard world to live on, and only some of the people live well. Due to the failing of other planets, Gaul and many other planets are full of refugees. Hisako’s parents were refugees and the only reason they were allowed to have her was to sell her in marriage. Refugees camps, not enough food, hard labour, and terrorists. All things Hisako grow up with knowing about, but not really seeing too much of. Her parents protected her as best as they could.

All things the Traders aboard the trading ship and Adem don’t really know anything about. Due to near light speed, while over 20 years pass for Hisako, only a year or so passes for Adem. The Traders feel almost above planetary problems because by the next time they roll around, everything will have changed again. They act like everything is one big game.

And the trade ship the Hajj, and her captain, Maneera Sadiq, have lofty goals above planetary problems. They’re after a lost spaceship full of technology they have long since forgotten how to produce themselves. Even their trade ships are beyond them to make, and repairing it is proving more difficult and getting impossible. Maneera is looking to get ahead of the rest of the other Traders and make a profit. This is why she paid for a wife for Adem and specifically required Hisako to study a branch of math and science that is all but useless.

Until now, that it isn’t useless anymore.

If these bits to the story in my review sound disjointed and that they don’t really come together in the end, well… neither did they in the book, either. There was a lot of setup, and the book never really settled into the story. I wasn’t just disappointed in the lack of romance, or the fact that Adem and Hisako don’t really meet up at all until halfway through the book (really). And that I have no idea what this blurb means by “Sparks fly”, since they mostly ignore each other.

I was disappointed because while there were some cool concepts, especially when it came to the sci-fi, they just never really amounted to anything. Gaul’s problems are never really addressed, except in a possibility. The science fiction and spaceship experiments mostly accomplish the initial goal of warp drive, but none of any of the other implications amount to anything after they were introduced in the story. There was more time spent on the crooked uncle of Adem than there was on exploring the implications of what it would mean for the ship to have warp drive when others wouldn’t, which amounted to about a paragraph worth of material.

Just.. A lot of setup, not a whole lot of story. I have no idea if The Light Years was planned as part one of a series. In a lot of ways it feels like it was. There is just so much left unaccounted for that so much time was spent building up. I liked the concept,the execution just fell flat.

ARC received from Angry Robot on Netgalley. This did not affect my review.