Title: The Light Years
Author: R.W.W. Greene
A bit about the author
Rob was born in South Carolina – just down the road from my hometown – but grew up in the northeast where he still makes his own. His vita includes jobs like journalist, teacher (high school & college), and animal crematory operator. Rob collects old typewriters, and keeps bees!
A long-lost battleship and an arranged marriage may hold the key to faster-than-light travel and humanity’s future…
Hisako is not happy with the deal. The arcane branch of physics it requires her to study broke off a thousand years before, and she is not keen on the idea of giving up everything she knows to marry a stranger and move onto an aging spaceship.
Onboard the Hajj, Hisako soon learns her dilemmas are overshadowed by the discovery of ancient secrets, a derelict warship, and a chance at giving the survivors of Earth a fresh start.—from Amazon
Main characters: Adem Sadiq and Hisako Sasaki.
The scene or line that made you laugh out loud
After hours, Adem’s father Dooley runs a pub on their ship, the Hajj. Dooley, Adem, and others have to resort to their onboard stills to create brew when supplies run low, but in this scene Adem remembers that on one trip, “prune juice had been the only mixer to survive until planetfall, and the crew spent the last three weeks of the trip swilling “Moonblasts” and shitting its brains out.”
The place where you wanted to throw the book across the room
Oddly enough, this thought never crossed my mind, except perhaps the idea of landing a punch at the humans who, centuries from now, have allowed corruption and poverty to continue to thrive. Even given the nightmare of 2020, I still have a bit of hope that the human race will do better.
A memorable line (or two)
Conversations between Hisako’s parents:
He gestured around the small living room. “I couldn’t have dreamed of this when I was a boy. There were seven of us in a room this size, with a bathroom shared by eight families.” He helped Hadiya back to her seat.
“And all it cost us was our daughter,” Hadiya said. “The Trader never smiled. Do you remember that? I can’t imagine our daughter loving such a cold man.”
“We didn’t sell her… We gave her a chance.”
A conversation with Dooley & Hisako after the wedding:
“The contract says you have to get married and spend two years with us. That’s it. You don’t have to like us. You don’t even have to talk to Adem except for ship’s business if that’s what you want. But you might be missing out. He’s a good boy.”
The verdict: ***4.5 stars***
As a medieval history buff, I was intrigued by the ‘arranged marriage’ premise of The Light Years, and anxious to see how it would unfold in Greene’s 34th century. Greene’s world-building sucked me into Adem and Hisako’s story immediately. In alternating chapters from the main characters’ point of view, we get depth and the richness of the worlds and very different lives these two lead after Adem’s mother arranges the marriage with the parents of the yet-unborn Hisako.
Adem is an engineer on his family’s freighter. (He is a guitar player, too, like author Greene!) The tech creaks, and Greene’s descriptions of life onboard the Hajj shows the exciting bits as well as the day-to-day, including at Terry’s Place, the pub on the ship. On the planet Gaul, we watch Hisako being raised from birth until she is 24.
Greene’s worlds are believable and detailed, with bits of history of the conflicts that drive the politics, business, and life of individuals in the 34th century. The main characters Adem & Hisako are well drawn, but my favorites scenes in the novel are the interactions of Adem with his family: his father Dooley, mother Maneera, and sister Lucy. One antagonist, his uncle Rakin, is suitably nasty, involved in all types of schemes to undermine the family’s work.
As for the ‘arranged marriage,’ like in medieval times, a 34th century arranged marriage was a business deal. SPOILER ALERT! The romantic in me was hoping for a and-they-lived-happily-ever-after, but Greene’s resolution was good for Adem and Hisako, and fitting for the people they’d become.
Well done, Mr. Greene. 4.5 stars