Ardulum: First Don by J.S. Fields
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I originally picked this book up because I wanted to study how the author used gender-neutral pronouns. Once I sunk my teeth it, I was so engrossed in the plot that I kept forgetting to pay attention to pronouns. NineStar Press’ editors really have a knack for acquiring good science fiction, as this is the second space opera series that’s really impressed me.
At first, the plot of Ardulum reminded me of Firefly: a ragged crew doing semi-legal transport on an antique ship picks up a stasis chamber that happens to have a strange girl in it. Thankfully, the characters, world, and other aspects of the plot were complex, deep, and unique.
I loved the flawed characters, the pacing, the description, worldbuilding, and the speculative science behind the spaceships. The presence of advanced 3-D printing grounded the world and made it seem like a future that was truly plausible.
My one complaint was that all of the gender neutral pronouns were for alien characters whose race was either somehow gender neutral or had a third gender and I had been hoping to see them used with a non-binary human. Still, that was a minor thing and didn’t stop me from enjoying everything else about this.
One nice touch worth mentioning was that the future Ardulum is set in is optimistic. With all the tragedy and political BS happening right now, I needed to read something that showed a hopeful future.
If you are a fan of space opera, science fiction, or just speculative fiction in general, this is a must read for you!