Generation Ship (Harper Voyager, October 17, 2023). Cover by Jeff Brown
Even with all the resources at our fingertips, it’s impossible to keep up with the steady drumbeat of new arrivals. That’s one of the reasons I’m always on the lookout for good reviewers, and new review sites.
One of my new favorites is WinterIsComing.net, which has pointed me toward some of the fall’s best new SF and fantasy. It’s how I discovered Michael Mammay’s new SF thriller Generation Ship, which they hail as “a sprawling standalone sci-fi epic with a large cast and intricate sociopolitical intrigue.” Now that’s what I’m talking about.
[Click the images for next generation versions.]
The Planetside Trilogy by Michael Mammay (Harper Voyager, 2018-20). Covers by Sébastien Hue
Michael Mammay is the author of the military SF novel The Misfit Soldier (2022) and The Planetside Trilogy (2018-2020), which we discussed here back in 2021.
His latest is a provocative political thriller that Publishers Weekly calls an “Impressive hard SF epic… Equally entertaining and intelligent,” and Analog labels “An absolute page-turner… compelling, cleverly written, with a well-characterized cast — this is the kind of book to both keep you on the edge of your seat.”
Daniel Roman sits in the the reviewer’s chair at WinterIsComing, and this is a snippet from the piece that sent me scrambling to order a copy.
Science fiction author Michael Mammay is best known for his Planetside series, which follows retired space military officer Carl Butler as he solves various high stakes mysteries. But with his latest book, Mammay is doing something a bit different. Generation Ship is a sprawling standalone sci-fi epic with a large cast and intricate sociopolitical intrigue…
After more than 200 years traveling through space, the generation ship Voyager is finally nearing Promissa, a planet humanity hopes to colonize in order to expand beyond its Earthly borders. But the rub is that humanity brought all its issues with it into space. While the Voyager has a unified goal, everyone has their own opinions about how best to execute it. As the titular generation ship nears its destination, various factions on the ship start pressing their own agendas, and things get very interesting very fast…
A highlight of Generation Ship is how Mammay carefully builds the idea that the generation ship itself has developed an extremely unique and needs-driven culture. This isn’t the sort of sci-fi where people are frozen in cryo and then just conveniently wake up when they get to their destination. Instead, everything about the ship has evolved around the idea of keeping things running, from the way people are assigned jobs to how they are required to get a certain amount of exercise in order to be able to do those jobs, to things like mandatory euthanasia once you hit a certain age in order to free up resources for the next generation…
Generation Ship is a sprawling novel that feels real. Michael Mammay’s previous novels were very tightly focused. The Planetside series is told exclusively through Carl Butler’s point of view, while last year’s standalone The Misfit Soldier focused on a crack team trying to pull off a dangerous heist. Mammay has upped his game with Generation Ship. The book follows five point-of-view characters, each with their own loyalties and distinctive personalities. From a hacker with a prodigious affinity for the generation ship’s systems to a farmer thrust into a complicated union movement to the ship’s governor and its head scientist, the story is told from many different angles…
Generation Ship retains great pacing despite its length… The book’s final leg in particular dials up the sci-fi weirdness in a way that reminded me of the works of David Brin, asking big questions about spacefaring society and sentience… Generation Ship is an excellent science fiction novel that I’m eager to one day revisit. If you’ve been missing The Expanse, you don’t want to sleep on this one.
Read the complete review here.
Generation Ship was published by Harper Voyager on October 17, 2023. It is 589 pages, priced at $19.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Jeff Brown.
See all our coverage of the best new science fiction and fantasy here.