(Orbit, 2019) by Megan E. O’Keefe
centers on siblings: Biran, a member of an elite cadre that controls the interstellar gates by which humans travel among star systems, and his sister, Sanda, a gunner who finds herself waking 230 years after her last battle on an empty, enemy spaceship, believing she’s the last human alive.
O’Keefe’s characters search for truth in a universe where the secrets are centuries old and where A.I.s depend on humans as much as humans depend on A.I.s.
Among the many themes O’Keefe’s space opera explores are the limits of human perception. In Sanda’s case, her reality is controlled by a spaceship. “They are elements of horror when you can’t trust the environment you live in, when the only thing keeping you alive might be dishonest,” O’Keefe says.
O’Keefe challenges Tolstoy’s claim that “all happy families are alike” by giving Biran and Sanda an upbringing in their two-dad home that is as happy as it is unique.
“I enjoy taking the opportunity to explore a family that is actually united—they have their squabbles, of course—but they love each other and are trying to do the right thing in an impossible situation.”
, which was shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award, is the first book in O’Keefe’s Protectorate trilogy. The second book, Chaos Vector, is scheduled for publication in July.
Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.