I found this book refreshingly different and very enjoyable. It is a short tale that follows the explorations of Felix, a galactic traveler who is not a robot. He is extremely curious, intensely appreciative of the wonders of the universe, kindly but detached. He is an explorer, a scout for the Solar Neighborhood, a Zorannic man, and while he may be non-biological, he is most certainly not a robot. I saw his personality as that of the quintessential scientist. He is a very charming fellow.
There is a surprising amount crammed into this little novel. It’s like a space faring Gulliver’s Travels. Felix roams the galaxy, hopping from one planet to another using his ‘gatehouse,’ which seems more like a TARDIS than a spaceship. His mission is to scout, to discover new life and new civilizations, and to assess the potential of the places he explores for colonies for the Solar Neighborhood. But just when it seems that this is all the story is, a plot happens. The Solar Neighborhood is not the only civilization looking to colonize the galaxy. And the others may not be going about it as nicely as they are.
So how is this book different? Well, it’s written in third person present tense, which is common for a synopsis but not for a novel. The prose and vocabulary are precise, the punctuation is stylistically correct, and the voice is unique. Let me give an example.
‘This is when he is eaten. It is sudden, vicious, and bewildering. Felix has the vaguest impression of being rent asunder and then is cast into the rudest kind of soundless, sightless, darkness…’
See? Well, maybe not, so I’ll just say I liked how it was done.
What else did I especially like? I mentioned the main character already. He is quite enjoyable. The style and prose, yeah, got that. I haven’t mentioned the tech yet. It’s interesting. The gatehouse isn’t a spaceship, although Felix can build one if needed for short planetary hops. The gatehouse swaps bits of space-time to get him where he needs to go. How it does this, we don’t know, but it makes sense. The robotic ants are quite cool. These are little constructor robots, not a new idea but a very logical one. They, too, make sense.
So, what didn’t I like? Nothing, really. The story seems not to have a real plot at first, other than following Felix explore the universe. I was okay with that, although some might see this as a slow start. When more of a plot did develop, it started and then ended rather abruptly, and the story concludes with something of a cliffhanger. I admit this is mildly annoying when the sequel is not immediately available.
Overall, though, I found this an exceptional book, different from most. I highly recommend it.