by Rivers Solomon
Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She's used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she'd be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world.
Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship's leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot -- if she's willing to sow the seeds of civil war.
"Solomon's big, unflinching and poetically detailed sci-fi debut tells the story of Aster Grey, an orphan raised on the slavery deck of a starship called the HSS Matilda as she searches for answers to her mother's death and the mystery of the forces who control the starship. Aster is both neuroatypical and queer, and these elements of her characterization work seamlessly and nonexploitatively into a plot that mirrors so many of our own world's greatest injustices, probing at our ideas about classism, racism, abuse and tyranny. A stunning first novel by a writer I can't wait to see more from." -- Them, included in 10 Books That Stole Our Queer Hearts in 2017
"What Solomon achieves with this debut -- the sharpness, the depth, the precision -- puts me in mind of a syringe full of stars. I want to say about this book, its only imperfection is that it ended. But that might give the wrong impression: that it is a happy book, a book that makes a body feel good. It is not a happy book. I love it like I love food, I love it for what it did to me, I love it for having made me feel stronger and more sure in a nightmare world, but it is not a happy book. It is an antidote to poison. It is inoculation against pervasive, enduring disease. Like a vaccine, it is briefly painful, leaves a lingering soreness, but armors you from the inside out." -- NPR
"In Rivers Solomon's highly imaginative sci-fi novel An Unkindness of Ghosts, eccentric Aster was born into slavery on -- and is trying to escape from -- a brutally segregated spaceship that for generations has been trying to escort the last humans from a dying planet to a Promised Land. When she discovers clues about the circumstances of her mother's death, she also comes closer to disturbing truths about the ship and its journey." -- BuzzFeed
"What Solomon does brilliantly in this novel is in the creation of a society in which dichotomies loom over certain aspects of the narrative, and are eschewed by others... Hearkening back to the past in visions of the future can hold a number of narrative purposes... The past offers us countless nightmares and cautionary tales; so too, I'm afraid, can the array of possible futures lurking up ahead." -- Tor.com
About the Author:
Rivers Solomon graduated from Stanford University with a degree in comparative studies in race and ethnicity and holds an MFA in fiction writing from the Michener Center for Writers. Though originally from the United States, they currently live in Cambridge, England, with their family. An Unkindness of Ghosts is their debut.