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The Wrong Stars (Axiom) Mass Market Paperback – November 7, 2017
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“Fun, funny, pacy, thought-provoking and very clever space opera - a breath of fresh air.”
– Sean Williams, author of Twinmaker
“Through his wit, dialogue, and vast, diverse world, Tim Pratt has created a space opera for today–one filled with diverse characters and cultures that feel nuanced enough to be real–while still delivering the sense of wonder that made you love the genre in the first place. It yanks readers through the wormhole and refuses to let them go. When’s the sequel out?”
– Sam Reader, for Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
“Brilliantly fun space opera that reminds me of Killjoys but with more Weird Alien Cool Shit.”
– Liz Bourke for Locus
“A really good read that was intelligently written and skilfully put together.”
– Two Bald Mages
“Expansive world building, great movement coupled with interesting characterization and a story line that is not only intriguing but brings back the grande space fairing odyssey.”
– Koeur’s Book Reviews
"The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt is everything a Science Fiction novel should be.”
– Tay’s Infinite Thoughts
"I really really loved this book. If you like space opera, give it a read. I’m ready for more, please!"
– Fed on Peaches
“The Wrong Stars is an entertaining sci-fi read in the vein of Firefly.” Five stars - excellent
– Occasionally Random Book Reviews
“I’d thoroughly recommend this book.”
– Ever the Crafter
“Compelling and funny and engrossing to read.”
– The 1000 Year Plan
“An entertaining and accessible sci fi opera/romp featuring imaginative aliens, cyborgs, pirates, and space battles. ”
– Surreal Tavi
“Pratt shows genuine talent. A writer to watch.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Tim Pratt is in the vanguard of the next generation of master American fantasists.”
– Jay Lake, John W Campbell Award-winning author of Into the Gardens of Sweet Night
“Exciting and compulsively readable.”
– Romantic Times
“Tim Pratt lures you in with his writing style and penchant for the dramatic and dangerous.”
– British Fantasy Society
“A gifted and imaginative author.”
“If there is any justice at all in this universe, Tim Pratt will someday be as wealthy and famous as Neil Gaiman.”
– The Green Man Review
“His stories have moved me, enchanted me, frightened me... and always leave me wanting more.”
– Terri Windling, World Fantasy Award-winning editor of Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror
About the Author
Tim Pratt is a Hugo Award-winning SF and fantasy author, and has been a finalist for World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Stoker, Mythopoeic, and Nebula Awards, among others. He is the author of over twenty novels, most recently The Deep Woods and Heirs of Grace, and scores of short stories. His work has been reprinted in The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, and other nice places. Since 2001 he has worked for Locus, the magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field, where he currently serves as senior editor. He lives in Berkeley, CA with his wife and son.
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The Wrong Stars has more plots twists than most novels twice its length, so to reveal much more about what happens would result in one egregious spoiler after another. Of all the things that impressed me about this book, the shear amount of story the author manages to cram into such a compact word count is stupefying. There are no holding patterns anywhere in this book, no asides or digressions that waste a single drop of ink. The climax delivers the goods and then some, and I was particularly impressed with how efficiently the author caught all the balls he had in the air while tossing up a few more for a presumed sequel.
The way Pratt unpacks the culture and background of his future history is remarkable enough; the way he then drops it on its head and blows it out an airlock is even more so. Stories are supposed to be about disruptions to the status quo – it’s a basic requirement. Your protagonist’s world is (A), then (A) is damaged when (B) happens, then the protagonist fights to solve (B), resulting in (C), which is now the new (A). What separates a good writer from a mediocre one is the ability to make that formula feel fresh every time. An exceptional writer can play that formula like a violin. Tim Pratt is an exceptional writer. The Wrong Stars is the kind of novel that keeps fooling you into thinking it’s revealed all its secrets just before it hits you with another stunner. If Mr. Pratt does not already teach a class on how to do this, he should. All of the other writers need to take that class.
If I have any complaints, it’s that the up-tempo pace leads to a few plot maneuvers – particularly in the middle part of the book – that feel rushed, maybe even a little forced. The novel’s central romance suffers the most from this, though “suffer” is a relative term when discussing something as entertaining and imaginative as The Wrong Stars. A few of the supporting characters get shortchanged as well: the story seems to try to plow right through them, barely slowing down enough to let them grab ahold and get pulled along.
It’s easy to swallow a few lumps, though, when you’ve got a novel this compelling and funny and engrossing to read. And if nothing else, it’s worth reading for the Liars. If you are a science fiction fan, you need to have the Liars in your life. Trust me on this.
Callie and the rest of the crew of The White Raven exist far out on the edge of the solar system, doing salvage runs and acting as the closest thing to a police force. Then on a routine salvage mission, they find a centuries old “Goldilocks ship,” with one of the original inhabitants still in cryo-sleep. When Dr. Elena Oh wakes up, she proclaims that she’s made first contact with an alien species and that the rest of her crew is in need of rescue. Humanity’s already made contact with aliens… but is this an entirely new species? And how did Elena get back to our solar system anyway? As the questions pile up, the crew of The White Raven is set to uncover a centuries long conspiracy.
I love science fiction books with good aliens, and The Wrong Stars 100% delivers. The aliens humanity’s made contact with while Elena’s been gone are called the Liars. Because they lie. About everything. Every single group of Liar’s humanity’s met has spun wildly different stories about everything from the origins of their species to what day of the week it is or what their names are. They’ll never admit they’re lying, even when it’s completely obvious, but will instead say another group of Liars is lying, blame it on translation errors, or just insist that they don’t see anything wrong with the piece of technology that’s just exploded. In short, the Liars are an incredibly original alien culture that also manages to be hilarious.
It also means that it’s impossible to get any straight answers out of them. Do they know anything about what happened with Elena? Who can tell! And you definitely can’t trust any answer they give. And man, does the crew of The White Raven start wanting answers.
The pacing is quite snappy, and the narrative never drags. From the get go, there’s plenty of action and excitement to be had. On the whole, The Wrong Stars is more focused on plot shenanigans than character development, but the cast still managed to be surprisingly memorable. Callie and Elena are the clear leads, and the story switches between their POV sections. However, I think my favorite character might be the ship’s mechanic, Ashok, who’s a post-human obsessed with transforming himself into a cyborg. While the romance subplot between Callie and Elena possibly suffers from the focus on plot and the quick pacing, I never found it bothersome. All in all, I found the cast wholly enjoyable.
Also, there’s so many queer characters! Going in, I knew that there was a f/f romance subplot between Callie and Elena (this was part of why I picked it up), but I didn’t know that Callie was demisexual. There’s also a supporting character who’s ace, which made me so happy, and there’s trans and nonbinary supporting characters as well. I haven’t seen The Wrong Stars popping up on any lists for queer sci-fi, and that’s a shame. If you’re looking for a fun, well written space opera with queer characters, The Wrong Stars is right up there with A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.
Anyway, I enjoyed the heck out of The Wrong Stars. It’s a refreshingly fun, hard to put down book. I strongly recommend it, and I can’t wait for a sequel!