Loki’s Ring (Saga Press, March 28, 2023). Cover by Tomer Hanuka
Stina Leicht’s previous novels include Persephone Station, And Blue Skies From Pain, and Cold Iron. Loki’s Ring is her first space opera, but I strongly suspect it won’t be her last. Publishers Weekly calls it “Thrilling… a riveting cocktail of high-stakes adventure, philosophical musing, complex family dynamics, and cloak-and-dagger intrigue,” and Locus Online proclaims it “really strong and engaging, sciency and full of adventure.”
Loki’s Tale is the story of Gita Chithra, captain of the Search and Rescue ship The Tempest, who receives a frantic distress call from Ri, the AI she raised like a daughter. Ri is trapped on Loki’s Ring, an alien-constructed world, and when Gita and her crew arrive they discover everyone in the vicinity has fallen victim to a highly contagious biomechanical agent from an illegal mining operation. Things quickly degenerate from there as Gita and her team find themselves up against horrors at every turn.
Mysterious contagions, artificial megastructures, competing corporate entities, shadowy government agencies, spunky AIs, and horrors in the dark of space — this one checks all my boxes. I’ve already cleared the weekend and got my snacks ready.
Here’s an excerpt from Caren Gussoff Sumption’s enthusiastic review at Locus Online.
The novel stars a large cast (one thing this reader struggled with), but mainly centers on a Search and Rescue captain, Gita Chithra, as she receives a distress call from one of her two daughters, Ri. Ri, along with her sister, Ezi, are actually artificial humans, sentient intelligences Gita raised from birth… Ri’s distress call is mysterious and evasive, because Ri has volunteered as a field agent for a shadowy agency headed by a family friend. But Ri is in real trouble, and begs her mother, along with Gita’s small, but accomplished crew, to rescue her from the vicinity of Loki’s Ring.
Loki’s Ring is an off-limits, heavily disputed megastructure. It’s theorized to have been built by long-gone alien species, and its purpose is unknown. What is known is that the Ring occasionally, and without warning, seems to “awaken” whenever any outsiders approach or land on it, and are either obliterated by laser-like mechanisms, or fall terribly ill from a strange contagion called GX-3714.
It’s a dangerous mission for a search and rescue vessel with no jurisdiction, but Gita is determined to save Ri. So, of course, nothing goes easily or well, and soon, other parties – mostly, a crew led by the hard-nosed Karter – are called in to assist.
Therein lies some of the family drama. Yes, Gita is saving her daughter, but the onus on family centers on found family. Karter and her crew were once all part of Gita’s crew. The close crew had parted ways after two other members were killed on a mission. There’s a lot of love between the two separate crews, still. But also a pile of pain and hurt that will need to be bridged in order for everyone to get out of this alive, because what started as a complicated, dangerous rescue quickly escalates into a diplomatic nightmare and a near war between competing corporate entities who wish to claim Loki’s Ring and to weaponize GX-3714.
Our previous coverage of Stina Leicht includes:
Loki’s Ring was published by Saga Press on March 28, 2023. It is 512 pages, priced at $18.99 in trade paperback and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Tomer Hanuka. Read a sample chapter at the publisher’s website.
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