Ascension

/ posted in: Reading AscensionAscension by Jacqueline Koyanagi
on 2013
Pages: 334
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Action & Adventure
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Outer Space

Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually-advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the" Tangled Axon" proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he's a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego... and Alana can't keep her eyes off her. But there's little time for romance: Nova's in danger and someone will do anything -- even destroying planets -- to get their hands on her!


I heard about this book on a list of science fiction books written by authors of color and featuring POC characters.  This book did have a very different cast of characters than you normally see in space-based science fiction books.

  • Alana Quick – 30s, dark skinned, lesbian, mechanic, living with a chronic degenerative disease
  • Nova Quick – Alana’s sister who is a spirit guide with a life goal of transcending the need to stay in her body
  • Tev – blond, lesbian, captain of the Tangled Axon
  • Slip – female, doctor, polyamorous
  • Marre – female, pilot, studied to be a spirit guide until an accident caused body parts to randomly fade in and out of existence
  • Ovie – male, engineer, may or may not actually be a wolf

Alana works in a ship yard but there isn’t much call for fixing ships anymore.  New technology from beings who came through a dimensional rift makes mechanical engines obsolete.  Alana loves engines though.  She can understand them through the sounds they make.  When the crew of the Tangled Axon lands to try to find her sister for a job, she stows away on board.  She hopes that once they are too far away to be able to easily return her, she will be able to prove her worth and be kept on as crew.

Things don’t go as she plans.  The crew use her as a hostage to get in touch with her sister.  From here things get confusing.  There is a genocide that the crew is going to be blamed for if they can’t clear their names.  There is a romance.  There is fighting between the sisters.  There is so much going on that it doesn’t always flow together into a coherent story.  I think that more world building would have helped.  You are dropped into the story without a lot of explanation, which I usually like, but this needed a little more explanation up front to truly understand what the stakes were.

I did like the way the story of a hero with chronic pain was told.  Alana is too poor to afford the cure for her disease.  She can barely afford to get the medicine that keeps her symptoms at bay and she runs out of meds while on the ship.  She finds out that her sister is able to alleviate her symptoms but it requires her to be so mentally disoriented that she can’t function normally when pain free either.  The cure she was saving up for may even be worse than the disease.  You don’t see many stories written with disabled heroines so this was an interesting point of view.