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G.A. Matiasz
Dusted by Stars
G.A. Matiasz, author

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Create)

Science fiction space opera adventure novel with a touch of fantasy. Starship pilot and freight hauler Stacy Jones takes on a commission to transport a seemingly innocuous object from a mysterious employer to the Perfected World of Kapala. The mythical sangrael from the legendary Medea Aeëtes. With Kryz, a pint-sized Rarj, Stacy battles thieves and hijackers across the galaxy teeming with aliens and danger to protect her precious cargo. The escalating action culminates on Kapala in a transcendental revelation that exposes secrets and lies before new paths forward are uncovered. Set in the far future universe of the author’s previous books, the novel is lavishly illustrated by Jon Hunt.
Matiasz’s bite-sized space opera introduces a new SF world and crew in the classic blue-collar space trucking vein. When Earthling freighter pilot Stacey Jones is contracted by a mysterious woman to transport an ancient object to a holy planet, she's just happy to have a paying gig. But her cargo turns out to be the literal Holy Grail, and plenty of others want to get their hands on it. With a little help from her crew—a bug she met during a bar fight, an anxious AI, and a feline stowaway—the resourceful trucker tries to stay a step ahead of those other interested parties (and, as she puts it, “all that fairy tale crap”) so that she can survive, get paid, and maybe, just maybe, find a new home for the scattered remnants of humanity.

Matiasz hits all the right notes for her subgenre: daring escapes and space battles, weird aliens and wacky robots, a cynical-on-the-outside protagonist with an impossible dream.The setting is at once familiar and fresh, with unique takes on some standard ideas. In this universe, the terraforming of Mars was a complete disaster, and a lonely remnant of an alien hive mind is a charming crew member rather than a frightening foe. And while space has long been the dominion of white men, Stacey Jones makes room for herself as a Black woman with strong ties to her Earth heritage.

The specifics are fascinating, though at times Dusted By Stars wanders into long asides with little bearing on the plot. Still, the action is well paced and exciting, and this novella feels, in the end, the right length for the story it’s telling. Detailed and dynamic illustrations make it an easy world to sink into. Perfect for fans of space opera looking for all their favorite things in one place.

Takeaway: This quick space trucking adventure delivers everything it promises.

Great for fans of: Becky Chambers’s The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward’s Invisible Kingdom.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B