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Noumenon
Cover of Noumenon
Noumenon

A Publishers Weekly "Best Books of 2017" pick!

A Kirkus Reviews "Best Books of 2017" pick!

A B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasty Blog "Best SFF of 2017" pick!

With nods to Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series and the real science of Neal Stephenson's Seveneves, a touch of Hugh Howey's Wool, and echoes of Octavia Butler's voice, a powerful tale of space travel, adventure, discovery, and humanity that unfolds through a series of generational vignettes.

In 2088, humankind is at last ready to explore beyond Earth's solar system. But one uncertainty remains: Where do we go?

Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer has an idea. He's discovered an anomalous star that appears to defy the laws of physics, and proposes the creation of a deep-space mission to find out whether the star is a weird natural phenomenon, or something manufactured.

The journey will take eons. In order to maintain the genetic talent of the original crew, humankind's greatest ambition—to explore the furthest reaches of the galaxy— is undertaken by clones. But a clone is not a perfect copy, and each new generation has its own quirks, desires, and neuroses. As the centuries fly by, the society living aboard the nine ships (designated Convoy Seven) changes and evolves, but their mission remains the same: to reach Reggie's mysterious star and explore its origins—and implications.

A mosaic novel of discovery, Noumenon—in a series of vignettes—examines the dedication, adventure, growth, and fear of having your entire world consist of nine ships in the vacuum of space. The men and women, and even the AI, must learn to work and live together in harmony, as their original DNA is continuously replicated and they are born again and again into a thousand new lives. With the stars their home and the unknown their destination, they are on a voyage of many lifetimes—an odyssey to understand what lies beyond the limits of human knowledge and imagination.

A Publishers Weekly "Best Books of 2017" pick!

A Kirkus Reviews "Best Books of 2017" pick!

A B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasty Blog "Best SFF of 2017" pick!

With nods to Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series and the real science of Neal Stephenson's Seveneves, a touch of Hugh Howey's Wool, and echoes of Octavia Butler's voice, a powerful tale of space travel, adventure, discovery, and humanity that unfolds through a series of generational vignettes.

In 2088, humankind is at last ready to explore beyond Earth's solar system. But one uncertainty remains: Where do we go?

Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer has an idea. He's discovered an anomalous star that appears to defy the laws of physics, and proposes the creation of a deep-space mission to find out whether the star is a weird natural phenomenon, or something manufactured.

The journey will take eons. In order to maintain the genetic talent of the original crew, humankind's greatest ambition—to explore the furthest reaches of the galaxy— is undertaken by clones. But a clone is not a perfect copy, and each new generation has its own quirks, desires, and neuroses. As the centuries fly by, the society living aboard the nine ships (designated Convoy Seven) changes and evolves, but their mission remains the same: to reach Reggie's mysterious star and explore its origins—and implications.

A mosaic novel of discovery, Noumenon—in a series of vignettes—examines the dedication, adventure, growth, and fear of having your entire world consist of nine ships in the vacuum of space. The men and women, and even the AI, must learn to work and live together in harmony, as their original DNA is continuously replicated and they are born again and again into a thousand new lives. With the stars their home and the unknown their destination, they are on a voyage of many lifetimes—an odyssey to understand what lies beyond the limits of human knowledge and imagination.

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About the Author-
  • Marina J. Lostetter's original short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed's Women Destroy Science Fiction! and InterGalactic Medicine Show, among other publications. Originally from Oregon, the former winner of the Writers of the Future Award now lives in Arkansas with her husband, Alex, and enjoys globe-trotting, board games, and all things art-related.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 26, 2017
    In Lostetter’s ambitious and stunning debut, the Planet United Missions of a near-future Earth send a convoy off to investigate an anomalous star. Astronomical observation shows that LQ Pyxidis is variable in a way that suggests it’s either a unique opportunity to learn about solar system development or something created by intelligent beings. Convoy Seven travels faster than light, but the journey still takes generations, so it is crewed by clones of Reginald Straifer, the star’s discoverer; Akane Nakamura, the principal engineer; and Jamal Kaeden, who creates an artificial intelligence to help maintain the fleet. Given the dizzying timespan of the journey, Convoy Seven itself is in one sense the protagonist. As time passes, grappling with the individuality of different iterations of the various clone lines becomes as vital and necessary to the crew as figuring out what is going on at the star. Lostetter handles a complex and fractured narrative masterfully, never allowing her novel to become confusing or unconvincing. There are no easy answers to the book’s questions, but the lingering sense of wonder and discovery thoroughly justifies its title.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from July 1, 2017
    In Lostetter's ambitious debut, the year is 2088, and humankind is finally ready to explore deep space, preparing to send convoys of clones on eons-long missions to investigate the outskirts of the galaxy.Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer is convinced that something funny is going on with a distant star; there seems to be something surrounding it and obstructing its light. When Straifer convinces the organization building interstellar convoys to send one of its 12 missions to the mysterious LQ Pyxidis, he and hundreds of other brilliant experts are chosen to have their genes replicated into generations of clones who will staff the ships. The clones of idealistic dreamer Straifer, emotional and empathetic computer programmer Jamal Kaeden, kindly resource specialist Diego Santibar, insightful engineer Nakamura Akane, and the other humans with genes deemed optimal for deep space travel live out their lives working jobs assigned to them based on what their DNA says their talents are. They form new bonds and relationships with each other with every passing generation, even raising the next clones instead of muddying up DNA lines with natural reproduction; two versions of the same clone are alive onboard at the same time, the younger training to take over for the older. Every aspect of life in space, including sustainable materials, cultural development, personality quirks, and life and death among the crew members has been painstakingly accounted for to ensure mission success, all with an omnipresent AI assistant to keep the gears running. But algorithms can only predict so much, and the farther the convoy gets from Earth, the higher the stakes; after all, time is passing exponentially faster for the planet than for the ships, and the Earth the first clones knew is changing. So far removed from their home planet, are the clones doomed to repeat the flaws written in their DNA, or will they prove that people really can change, even if it takes a few lifetimes to get there? This spectacular epic examines everything from the nature of civilizations and societies to the tension between nature and nurture. Lostetter expertly balances the thrill of discovery with the interpersonal consequences of an isolated community. The tools of speculative fiction are deployed with heart-rending attention to emotional reality in this enthralling odyssey. A striking adventure story that could hold a galaxy in its scope, this is an expedition that delves as deep into the human thirst for purpose as it does into the wonders of the universe.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    July 1, 2017

    With the invention of subdimensional drive technologies, humanity can finally reach far beyond our solar system. Several manned missions are chosen; one, christened Noumenon, heads for a distant star that appears to be shielded by something, possibly artificial. Since the voyage will take hundreds of years, the ship is crewed by clones. As the centuries go by, the cloned descendents of the original crew discover the many difficulties of maintaining a society in space, not to mention the challenges they face when they reach their destination. The extreme time jumps necessary to tell the story of multiple generations means that this is not a primarily character-driven tale, although that doesn't mean that there are not interesting characters featured, most notably the only constant over the eons--the ship's AI. While readers might be let down by how little we learn about the star the mission discovers, there is apparently a sequel in the works. VERDICT Revolving around a space ship's crew that is cloned and recloned, this first novel explores questions of genetics and identity.--MM

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Yoon Ha Lee, author of Ninefox Gambit "Noumenon is a grand interstellar quest that marries intimate detail with the sweep of social change and discovery across generations. I was enthralled."

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Lostetter expertly balances the thrill of discovery with the interpersonal consequences of an isolated community. The tools of speculative fiction are deployed with heart-rending attention to emotional reality in this enthralling odyssey. A striking adventure story that could hold a galaxy in its scope."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "[An] ambitious and stunning debut...Lostetter handles a complex and fractured narrative masterfully, never allowing her novel to become confusing or unconvincing. There are no easy answers to the book's questions, but the lingering sense of wonder and discovery thoroughly justifies its title."
  • B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog "Soaked in the spirit of classic SF sensawunda, this ambitious debut explores the complexities of such an immense voyage, which pile up in surprising ways as the clones get further from the familiar."
  • Washington Post "Noumenon...offers a dreamlike exploration of evolving societies and the many ways humans can control, fight and love each other."
  • RT Book Reviews "Talk about a stunning debut! Lostetter's first full-length novel is an ambitious feat of worldbuilding that will remind you of classic sci-fi favorites."
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