2020 VISION: Vision—This book has so much going on, not just in terms of gender but also in terms of race and class, that it’s easy to see why we’ve picked it as our vision of the future. Granted, the future depicted in Solomon’s novel is not really a happy one, with one class of people being totally enslaved to another on a generational ship seeking a home for humanity after our current one becomes inhabitable. Yet, we gain hope through the representation found not only in these characters, who navigate so far outside white cis-het, but also in Solomon’s presence on our shelves who themselves are a queer POC who eschews the gender binary. This book and author gives us the audacity to dream of a genre not limited to pleasing the heteronormative masses, but to continue to “boldly go where no one has gone before”.
Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak.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, as they accuse, she'd be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire.Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the 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, who they consider to be less than human.When the autopsy of Matilda's sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother's suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother's footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sewing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she's willing to fight for it.